We are celebrating! On June 1st, 2005, Sandbrook Benefits Group was launched.
Was it scary? Heck yah!
I was a W-2 employee of a large publicly traded benefits firm here in Tucson. In addition, I had a two year “non-compete” – I couldn’t take any of my current clients with me! That meant starting all over at -0-, in my early 50’s. Not exactly what I had planned…
Well fast forward, now it’s 15 years later and we’ve been through a lot—just like you! After my 2 year non-compete expired, we were growing at a rate of about 20% per year- a good clip. That was 2005; we all know what happened in 2008 – yup, economic turn down. Clients downsized or even ceased to exist—sound familiar?
As we climbed out of that, we started to gain momentum again. Mind you, we never did any outbound marketing outside of networking in business groups like chambers and other organizations. Most of it was referral from current clients, strategic partners, and other business contacts. We hired an assistant and bookkeeper (more about that later), and data entry person. My husband, Joe, ran three departments – HR, Marketing, and I/T, basically ran the back office. I was the “golden goose” bringing in the business.
Just as we were hitting our stride, BOOM! Along comes Obamacare (Affordable Care Act or ACA) in 2014. Our industry started scrambling-new laws with so many shades of gray- huge websites being built to enroll the masses. Carriers working to participate, new calculations and regulations.
By January 2016, we had lost around 60% of our revenue, an entire market segment and let all our employees go, hunkered down and went into “survival mode”. Some of you might be there right now! After going to a large national conference of entrepreneurs, run by business coach and mentor, Allison Maslan, we were able to shift our business model to include business succession and exit planning. So many of our clients, largely small businesses, neglected to plan. We saw a big opportunity to bring a consolidated planning service to our clients, increase our value and our revenue too. Little did I know how that was going to shape the future of our business…
Well, then the other shoe dropped. My beloved husband, Joe Kelley, fell ill and passed away in November 2017. Remember I said he ran the back office? Well aside from losing my partner, and all that entails, I also had to find and hire folks to do all the roles he provided for our company. Big shoes to fill, for sure. I used to tell him he was worth his weight in gold – and he was a big guy!
So, after restructuring and investing a lot of money, we started moving ahead again. Through all of this, I’ve been blessed with an incredible team who provided support, emotional and business, and took over when I hit the wall. We added two new brokers to help with Medicare and business sales.
And then- PANDEMIC! Which is where we are now.
So, what have I learned?
1) S_ _t happens
2) We always find a way to recover
3) Don’t panic and don’t give into fear
4) Always look for the silver lining
5) We are created beings with unlimited resources of the universe
6) You are not alone
7) We need each other
8) Ask for help (can’t emphasize that enough!)
9) Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who are like-minded
10) Invest in yourself and your company – now is NOT the time to shrink back!
My business coach always tells us to do what only we can do- delegate everything else to employees or outsource. You have special talents – put them to the best possible use and let someone else do what you are not an expert in. Which brings me back to the bookkeeper – to try to save money, my loving husband, who did not have the financial gene (other than to spend it!), took on the role of bookkeeper. Let me tell you, don’t do that unless you are a bookkeeper! Got us in hot water with Uncle Sam and years to dig out.
In conclusion, I am blessed to have a great team and many resources in my Mastermind group, Pinnacle Global Network. We are poised for a banner year, despite the current crisis. Why? Because it is “non-negotiable”, another nugget from a trusted mentor.
So, we are celebrating- the successes and yes, the hurdles too. Without the hurdles, many brilliant inventions, advancements, and creations would not exist. Here is to our team, our clients, past and present, and strategic partners. We appreciate all of you and tribute our success to all of you.
To your health – stay well!