No matter their strengths, insurance businesses, like people, are always at risk.
Some dangers to your business are so blatant, they dare being ignored.
Others are far less obvious but can cause untold — and even fatal — damage by eating away at and undermining a company’s best efforts. These issues can be insidious and relentless, going unnoticed until it’s too late.
And it can all happen without anyone ever breaking a sweat.
Even so, there are clear indicators that a business is in trouble. Here are nine to consider:
9. Burying your head in the sand
Business people don’t like bad news. They reject it as they would an unwanted solicitor. And then they quickly add: “I want to be around positive people.”
New York Times writer Jim Holt comes close to the truth in his review of Chuck Kloserman’s book, “But What If We’re Wrong: Thinking About the Present as if It Were the Past” (Blue Rider Press). “Most of what we believe is likely to be wrong,” Holt writes when characgterizing the book’s premise.
If that’s true, then doubt, not certainty, is the only positive action.
8. Ignoring details
A lack of productivity imperils businesses, caused by the extraordinary amount of time that’s lost by following up on what’s being ignored. We assume that someone will come along and clean up our mess.
That, however, is not the way at Apple, as Michael Gartenberg discovered on his first day there. He sent someone an email. “I got it back, and at the end of it, It said, ‘P.S. spelling counts here.’”
Gartenberg’s fatal typo: using “hte” instead of “the.”
The way we manage details reveals how we regard others and what we view as important.
Managers who fail to encourage a free exchange of ideas may be slowly strangling their business. (Photo: iStock)
7. Small thinking
Many business owners and managers believe it’s their role to be Decider-in-Chief. They have firm — cast in concrete — opinions on everything. Research, surveys, studies, facts, knowledge, and the experience of others don’t count. They proudly trust their gut.
Employees learn quickly that discussion is useless, and new ideas are on an “Unwanted List.” It’s a perfect way to strangle a business.
6. Poor planning
Sure, it’s fun to talk about big-picture ideas. They can create excitement and energy. But sometimes these conversations result in little or no action, even though that’s what makes a difference. Everyone goes away and nothing happens. It’s the same the next time.
To keep a business on track and growing, there’s only one question that gets the wheels moving, that generates fire, not smoke. There’s only one question that gets results: “Who’s going to do what, why, and when?” Nothing else matters. It’s nailed down. No loose ends. Some call it taking responsibility, while for others it’s accountability. It’s all the same; it’s about getting things done.
5. Data blindness
When asked why his insurance agency couldn’t launch an eNewsletter for its clients and prospects, the principal, a smart client-oriented and capable underwriter, said, “We can’t do it until we get our database straightened out.”
He’s not alone. Good businesses fall behind and others die or merge because they’re gridlocked, unable to develop and implement an effective plan to gather the information they need.