February 13, 2018

Success Insurance

By CEO Jim Annis

As a business owner, how do you ensure (and insure) your business will work and be successful? Put your risk management hat on. Identify each risk and decide what to do about each. There are four main strategies: avoid it, reduce it, transfer it and/or accept it. Buying commercial business insurance is obvious. The tricky part is how to ensure that your business decisions are the right ones. Start working on your business versus in it.

Participate in Peer Groups – Mastermind groups, advisory boards, industry roundtables and mentors are effective resources. They act as a sounding board for decisions, allow for brainstorming and provide an outsider’s view. At The Applied Companies, we have participated in Vistage for the last nine years. The annual price tag (think new Tesla base Roadster MSRP total for our nine-year investment) is worth every penny. Balk that you cannot afford it? How can you afford not to do it? Every person knows me well. They won’t let me fail. Renewing our corporate insurance policies is equal to three times the annual cost and we never give it a second thought. Instead of a budget issue, we ask, “What is the risk of going alone and making a wrong decision?” The confidence, validation and ideas process are priceless.

Ask the right questions – It’s easy to ask easy questions. You must ask courageous questions. In a peer group, you will not be laughed at or get an eye roll like friend or colleague may offer. Benchmarking studies are a great objective way to assess you are asking the right questions strategically. One of the most telling is, “Do we have the right to win our chosen market?” That is a sobering question that deserves your honest answer.

Be teachable and coachable – As business owners, there is a blurred line between personal and professional development. Investing in ourselves brings everything together. In terms of staff, when I mention, “Hey it would be great if that person could get some training or coaching,” the reply is often, “What are they doing wrong?” Nothing at all. There is a misconception that seeking resources means you do not know enough. Nothing can be further from the truth. It means I trust them enough to develop their skills further to grow as an individual and enhance my company for the benefit of our customers.

How do you organize your Success Insurance policy? Have a plan. Adjust it. Gather competitive intel. Get focused. Enlist an advisory board. For the record, my best advisory board is my wife. She has a knack for reducing things down to an easy decision. She is really smart and 100% objective. When you get emotion involved, well, you cancel that Success Insurance, and there is no 10-day grace period. When will you put yours in place?

Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, The Applied Companies’ COO, contributed to this article.

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