So I have to tell you, the November EBA really got me fired up. In a good way.

It all started off with the cover story Rising stars in advising. Here is a group of under-42 go-getters who are excited about our industry and going gung-ho with fresh approaches and modern technology. I remember when I was 25 and got my first job in employee benefits. The world was my oyster and I wanted to learn all I could and get out there. These 10 producers are doing the same thing. And they all had one thing in common: enthusiasm and excitement for the future. They found areas where technology would give them an edge - iPhone apps, enrollment and service models. But you know what else? They weren't sitting around the office making excuses that PPACA will kill our business. They were fired up and going for it.


Long-term outlook

Have you entered into planned long-term engagement with your clients? The importance of this was talked about in Planning to drive the benefits strategy. The three-to-five-year plan is an important step to take. If you've done this, and a competitor tries to take your client away, your client will think twice about it. If you work with smaller clients, with less than 100 employees, Kwicien makes a good point that there is not much you can do to plan for and prevent large rate increases. So a contingency plan makes good sense - I call it "Plan B" with my clients. For my larger clients with more than 150 employees and/or self-funded, we employ data analysis tools that allow us to make detailed decisions almost on a monthly basis. This allows us to find problem areas with communication, plan utilization, or benefit design that need to be addressed. We can run mid-year renewal calculations and hit the problem early to avoid surprises. Either way, large or small group, you need to plan for the years coming.


Where to go from here

So, now, you've done a great job with the three-to-five-year plan, you are fired up and writing a lot of business for your employer. Life is good, but you think it can be better. Time to think about your Do you have a career goal line?. This article gave us great information about becoming a business owner. But whether you start your own shop, like I did, or buy out your current company, there are many things to think about. One of the biggest is going to be your transition from an employee to business owner. If you're the owner, you no longer are just the producer - you have to work on the business and in the business. So when you are planning your new goal line, think about what it takes to run a business. You'll need good systems, good accountants, good attorneys, and a good head for business. If you enjoy selling, keep doing that and work out a deal where you can hit your personal numbers and be happy.

And thank you to Mel Schlesinger for his article this month, Become a stand-out. If you are going to go for it, you've got to take this article to heart. Send letters, follow up, get out and see people. Ask for the opportunity. I've found that even your best friends and clients typically don't give you a referral unless you ask for it. Take "massive action." Don't do the "same old, same old" and most of all; it's a new year so GO FOR IT.

Reach Bryant, founder of SB&K Benefits, at

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