After launching in April 2022, Mikayla Cooper’s decision to go solo is already proving to be profitable. “Now my goal has shifted to expanding my business,” she says. “It’s going to take time and hard work, but as long as you keep pushing, it’ll work.”
Mikayla Cooper Insurance Agency
Despite a global pandemic and all manner of disruptions to the domestic and global economy, the 2022 Agency Universe Study revealed the independent agency channel had grown to 40,000 agencies, up from 36,000 in 2020. Against a backdrop of record mergers & acquisitions and economic uncertainty, these new agencies represent the essence of being independent.
Cooper is one of these agents. She was offered the opportunity to follow in her mother’s footsteps and own an American Family agency but “I’ve noticed the lack of options that we had to give our clients,” she says. After launching an independent agency in April 2022, Cooper’s decision to go solo is already proving to be profitable. “Now my goal has shifted to expanding my business,” she says. “It’s going to take time and hard work, but as long as you keep pushing, it’ll work.”
Why start an independent agency?
Insurance is something that everybody has to have, so the clientele is there. It’s just a matter of having a competitive product to offer at the right price. Going independent was one of the best decisions that I’ve made because I’ve been able to help a wide variety of clients and give them options.
First thing you ticked off your to-do list?
The very first thing I did as a new agency owner was network. I met with many different captive agents who are frustrated with certain products. A lot of those captive agents don’t have a product to offer all their clients, so my goal was to be the person those consumers think of.
Advantages of being your own boss?
I love it because I’m able to make my own schedule. I have set hours and 95% of the time I stick to them. I have four little kids, so when things come up it’s nice to not have to call into work. Also, I’m a millennial. I do things untraditionally. I don’t have an office storefront and I do everything virtually. A lot of people just want to talk over the phone or email, which makes it easy for me to be flexible.
What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced?
Learning about the different policies. I was working with my mom for seven years and we were captive agents, so I was truly an expert on what I sold. Coming into this new agency where I have all these different markets, it's overwhelming. I have to be able to figure out what's best for each person, so it's a huge learning curve.
What are your goals?
Initially, my goal was to be able to sell enough policies to just cover my monthly expenses. I knew that would not be easy but I'm actually surprised and overwhelmed that I have been able to crush that goal each month. I want to become more visible to the general public because right now, 95% of my business is referrals and it's mostly from captive agents. I want to come up with more efficient processes, along with expanding my knowledge of the different products. I am a one-person show and I'm being pulled in multiple directions at once, so being able to take care of each task efficiently and accurately is important.
Why did you get involved with PIIAC?
I ultimately decided to join Professional Insurance Agents of Colorado (PIIAC) because of all the different resources that they offer: business services, electronic signature, leads, hiring—the list is endless. When you're starting out, there's so much to do that you just don't know where to start. I also have access to different carriers that I wouldn't be able to have otherwise.
I really like all the different networking events too. And I've also noticed that if I need something and I don't know what to do or where to start, I reach out. My representative is Erin. Everyone is always super friendly and very resourceful, so that's awesome.
Advice for other one-person agency entrepreneurs?
My advice would be to build lots of relationships—that truly is the key when going independent. When you're a captive agent, you have a big company name and you get referred people. But as an independent agent, that's not really the case. Also, don't give up. This is a learning curve, whether it's someone like me who's been in the industry for many years or someone that's brand new.
Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.