The fall of 2016 marked the 10-year anniversary for my company, Penn Rise Benefits, Inc., an accomplishment of which I am very proud.  While reflecting over the last decade, I realize that there have been modifications to my business model, personnel challenges and governmental regulations that have all presented their own trials and stress.  There are some overarching themes that come to mind while looking back that will also be relevant while I focus on the future. 

 

I find that most businesses have all experienced or share these similar traits. Let’s explore a few of them here.

I believe that persistence is the most important trait in running any business.  The clock doesn’t stop just because you are the owner, in fact it arguably runs faster.  Having the energy and persistence to wake up every day motivated to do all the jobs necessary to build the business and keep it running is a monumental task. As my grandfather says, “you must be the chief cook and bottle washer.” This concept also spills over to sales, a key component in operating and growing any business.  Without sales, you have no income, but you also don’t make a sale by hearing “no”.  An owner must have the persistence to continue until they hear the sweet sound of “yes”.

The second most important theme is service.  This might be an easy concept, considering that my business is based on service, but this is more difficult to actually perform well than people realize.  Service is the key difference in having a client buy once, keep coming back, and ultimately referring their friends and family.  Service is not just having a smile and saying yes to your customers, but it involves being honest with them, explaining challenges and roadblocks that may occur (and they do occur!). How the business owner deals with these encounters will dictate how your clients perceive you and your business. Service is showing the value that your business brings to the table and doing it better than your competition.

The third concept I want to share is business planning.  Many business owners have never formally written a business plan or taken much time to step away from the day-to-day activities with a critical eye towards the future.  There are many factors that can impact a business: economical, familial, environmental, technological, regulatory, etc. Observations of these factors and periodic planning can have a profoundly positive impact on your business.  Here is a personal example from my business: In 2010, The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) law was passed, bringing vast changes and new rules into the health insurance market. What I could see coming was a major shift to my business model to accommodate these changes, which would impact not only types of products I could offer but also my commissions and business earnings. Six years later, I could transition my business to take these changes in stride while still growing my bottom line.  

Part of that transition is reflected in our name change this year to Penn Rise Advisors, which better reflects the services we provide to our clients.

Managing and operating a small business is not an easy task, with many small businesses failing in the first several years of operation, however, utilizing some of these key themes, a business has a better chance to survive and even thrive.  Taking advantage of your resources and network, such as that provided by the WCCCC offers many opportunities to gain knowledge and experience which can positively influence your business.  Be sure to make the most of them.