As an employee benefits consultant, I am constantly reminded that I need to diversify my revenue sources in order to survive and thrive in my industry. It’s no longer enough to be a broker; I need to be a trusted adviser and consultant.

As a new agency owner, figuring out how to add revenue streams — particularly fee-based revenue streams — in addition to commissions on insurance sales has been difficult. Do I have an area of expertise that I can turn into something needed, valuable, marketable and worthy of charging a fee?

I was very fortunate that a friend and former client helped me with this question when she contacted me recently. I was her employee benefits broker when I worked for a national agency and she worked for a small entertainment company. We had a great working relationship and remained friends after she took an opportunity to become a senior level human resources professional at a much larger

entertainment company. Because of the size and sophistication of her new company, I did not consider her a prospective client for my agency. But she still considered me a resource, and asked if she could hire me as a consultant to help her manage a search for a new employee benefits broker. I am now working as a consultant for this prestigious entertainment company on a four-month project to help them with their selection process for a new employee benefits broker.

When we started discussing this project, I knew immediately that this was something I could develop into an additional revenue stream for my agency. Here are some of the key factors I considered:

  • Broker search management is something that suits my skill set and fits my professional reputation — I am organized, methodical and capable of managing large projects with lots of moving parts.
  • It’s easy to explain the value of this service and create a marketing strategy to target prospective clients.
  • It generates a sizeable amount of revenue in a short period of time.
  • It widens my list of prospective clients.
  • It gives me an opportunity to work with C-suite executives, which can generate referrals.
  • It requires no additional overhead.
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"I am constantly reminded that I need to diversify my revenue sources in order to survive and thrive in my industry. It’s no longer enough to be a broker; I need to be a trusted adviser and consultant."

While I didn’t come up with the original idea, I was able to see the long-term potential this had as an additional revenue stream, and I have approached this consulting project as a template for future projects, noting what’s working and what’s not, refining the marketing messages, and improving on the process as I go.

Consider requests you’ve had from clients, prospective clients or strategic partners. Perhaps you’ve been given an opportunity — to write a handbook, design a website, teach a class or speak at an event. If one person or organization found value in your expertise, it’s likely that others will, too. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you been able to take an unexpected opportunity and turn it into a revenue stream for your agency?

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