At some point, agenices will hit a wall. However, agency entrepreneurs can structure an equity partnership to meet their goals, continue to grow and remain autonomous.
Sooner or later, insurance agency founders, like any entrepreneur, will find themselves at an inflection point. Whether driven by age, the desire to take on a new challenge or because the agency has reached its full potential given its resources, a founder has or will have a difficult choice to make: Cash out and walk away or remain at the agency while ceding control to an owner who has their own vision to install.
But what if there is a third option? One that allows the founder to remain in control and increase resources to scale and monetize their life's work—and delivers a win-win for those looking for new opportunities or who know their business has hit the wall and they need help to break it down.
Enter the strategic equity partnership. Agency entrepreneurs have an option to structure partnerships in a way to meet their goals. This acquisition approach is simultaneously connected and autonomous. It lets an insurance agency leader maintain their identity and growth objectives, bolstered by the capital investment and consultative resources of an equity partner.
The strategic equity partnership aligns with the concept of insurance entrepreneurship. While insurance hedges risk, guards against uncertainty and denotes caution, an entrepreneur is risky and speculative. An equity partnership is both.
Most insurance agency entrepreneurs have an initial aversion toward partnerships. They have been masters of their destiny for so long that the thought of anything different is distasteful. However, partnerships can provide founders with the resources and talent to grow. In fact, independent insurance agency leaders listed strategic partnerships among the top items they feel will help them grow and compete in today's market, according to a recent survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Keystone Agency Partners (KAP).
How can agency founders know what's right for them? Start with self-reflection and self-determination:
- As a founder, do you still desire to grow what you've built?
- Can the business realistically scale beyond its current state with more resources?
- Are you able to partner with another firm?
- Are there achievable opportunities for growth?
- Are there specific areas of your business where a strategic partnership can further your quest for growth?
If the answer to all these questions is “yes," then agency founders can set themselves up for success. This includes hiring the right advisers—bankers and lawyers—who know the industry and how to structure insurance industry transactions appropriately.
With the right partner, the goals that founders have never thought achievable can be accomplished. If an entrepreneur can combine with a company that embraces their vision and commits resources to that path, then the sky truly is the limit.
Dan Girardi is chief acquisitions officer of Keystone Agency Partners (KAP), a rapidly growing insurance brokerage platform that acquires and partners with independent insurance agencies throughout the United States.