Building a Successful Insurance Business

November 01, 2021 0 Comments

    Have you ever thought about building your own business? Did you stray away from the idea because you did not know where to start? It is no secret that building a business is a challenging endeavor. However, with the right attitude and ample motivation, you can accomplish this daunting venture. In a recent interview with Gary Kaplan, President of Construction at AXA XL, he shares insights on how he helped grow the insurance business essentially from scratch into the 100+-person team it is today – achieving an unprecedented 40% YOY growth. Gary touches on three important steps to building a successful business:

·         Setting the Vision

·         Assembling a High-Caliber Team

·         Implementing Rapid Results Initiatives (RRI)

Setting the Vision

            The first step a person should take when creating a business is setting the vision; what does the enterprise aim to accomplish? Think about what your business wants out of its customers and what the customers want out of your business. Training your employees to ask the right questions can help you and your business truly understand the customers' needs. This also allows your team to build relationships with its clients, putting your business at a competitive advantage. Setting a goal for your enterprise creates a foundation for the endeavor and fuels motivation among team members. Once you create an elaborate work plan with a valuable vision, the next step you should focus on is hiring teammates.

Assembling a High-Caliber Team

            Assembling a high-caliber team takes strategic diligence. Gary Kaplan suggests using resources such as LinkedIn and conference attendee lists to create a database of the top talent in the industry. In his case, Gary created and continues to create a spreadsheet of everyone he knows in the construction and insurance industries. By creating this database, you will pick out knowledgeable and motivated individuals who make for great employees. When hiring an employee, evaluate the individual's roots – where did the person learn the business? You want teammates who genuinely understand the trick of the trade as they will help push the enterprise forward. Gary also advises employers to analyze if a potential hire will fit in with the rest of the team as "a core part of the vertical is to get the teams to work together and [work] holistically instead of separately." By creating a high-caliber team full of people with the proper knowledge and attitude, you will have the ability to grow your business rapidly.

Implementing Rapid Results Initiatives (RRI)

            Once you have taken the time to establish a valuable vision and assemble a high-caliber team, you need to think of ways to allow your business to grow. Gary Kaplan suggests using Rapid Results Initiatives (RRI). This process is goal-oriented and revolves around projects that take 90 to 100 days to work out. With Rapid Results Initiatives, you must establish a goal, set out a challenge, and empower coworkers to help solve the problem. Through implementation across your enterprise, you can push individuals to think innovatively, creatively, and collaboratively. The process also allows for more inclusive and diverse teams, opening employees to new perspectives, opinions, and experiences. RRI drives continuous improvement as it challenges an enterprise to develop through various growth opportunities positively. 

            Gary shares that a person must take risks to move up the career ladder and hold more responsibilities. He states that "the more risk you take, the more success you can have, and you get recognized for it." Nevertheless, many younger workers hold back from taking risks as they fear the potential for negative ramifications. The Rapid Results Initiative process is a great space for taking risks because it gives employees the chance to think innovatively with a sense of freedom. Through this process, a company can implement change in a very low-risk way.

You can grow a successful business by putting extensive thought into decision-making. More importantly, thinking about the people involved in your enterprise. When establishing the construction business unit at AXA XL, Gary thought about the type of people he wanted to hire and how he would provide opportunities to grow. He realized the criticality of collaboration and the importance of seeing problems from various perspectives. You can do the same if you set your mind to it. To learn more about Gary's leadership legacy and starting a business, listen to our podcast, Building a Successful Insurance Business.


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