5 New Year’s resolutions for a growing agency

As the owner of a relatively new employee benefits agency, I am always looking at ways to improve and grow all aspects of myself and my business. The start of a new year is a natural time for me to reflect and strategize, and I will be finalizing my 2017 business plan over the next few weeks. While my business plan focuses on concrete actions I can take to move my agency forward, I am also aware of certain attitudes and habits that I can implement (or remove) that will also have a positive impact. A resolution is defined as a “firm decision to do or not to do something.” Here are five New Year’s resolutions I have made for 2017.

1) Get more involved in the legislative aspect of my industry.
Although I have been in the health insurance industry for almost 14 years, I have never involved myself in lawmaking or lobbying. It’s clear that the new president will be making a lot of changes when he takes office, and I feel strongly that it is time for me to have a voice and get more involved. My clients and strategic partners look to me for information, and I want to be able to tell them when and how these changes will impact them. I also want to understand how changes will impact my agency. I am resolved to read industry publications daily, to engage with thought leaders, to discuss developments with my peers, and to get more involved with the National Association of Health Underwriters, including attending their Capitol Conference in Washington, D.C., in February 2017.

2) Get even more involved with social media.
I have previously written about using social media to build my agency, and I am engaged daily on LinkedIn and Twitter. While I haven’t been on Facebook in years, I understand that it is a valuable platform to engage with people I know, and I can use it to position myself as an expert in my field, and to be a resource for prospective clients. I am resolved to re-engage with Facebook and set up a business page for my agency, while continuing to use LinkedIn and Twitter as professional marketing tools.

3) Make compliance for my clients a top priority.
Regulations may change fast under a new administration, but there are some basic compliance rules that aren’t likely to change, and it can be costly for clients when they aren’t followed. Many of those issues can be easily addressed with three documents — a POP plan, a wrap document, and a package of notices that employers are required to distribute to employees annually. I spent a few months this year searching for a vendor who could provide those documents at a reasonable price, even for employers who just have a few employees on a group plan. I am resolved to help my clients create these documents so they have the confidence that they are protecting themselves from fees and penalties if they are ever audited.

4) Develop additional revenue streams.
With all of the uncertainty in the health insurance industry, I want an exit strategy from the product selling/commission-based compensation model. This year, I had the opportunity to work on a fee-based consulting project, helping a large employer design and implement a very thorough broker selection strategy. That project created another consulting project, working with one of the brokers who didn’t win the business and wanted to improve their proposal process. I am resolved to spend time developing those additional revenue streams, so that my income is not solely in the hands of the health insurance carriers.

5) Formalize my mindfulness practice.
I have practiced mindfulness off and on for years, but I have never done it consistently, which for me involves setting a time and place to sit down each morning and meditate for 20 minutes. When I do practice, I feel more clear-headed, creative, balanced and better able to solve problems, which has an immediate and positive impact on my business. I am resolved to add meditation to my daily morning routine so that I can enjoy more clarity in business and in life.

I truly believe that failing to plan means planning to fail. While it can be difficult for me to remove myself from the daily operations of my agency to see the big picture, setting these intentions now will help to ensure that I’ll be moving in the right direction when the new year begins. What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2017?

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