Ryan Clegg did what most people would find daunting – branching out from an established company with a steady income flowing in every month. But he dove head first into the deep end and established Clegg Insurance, an agency that focuses on property and casualty coverage.
Clegg was working as a wholesaler for Brown and Brown Insurance before he decided to take the plunge and set up his independent firm in Florida’s Clearwater.
“I saw my flaws when working with corporate America,” says the 31-year-old. “I wanted to work with businesses with all sizes, whereas it only wants you to work with people that bring in a certain amount of revenue. I branched out because I wanted to have control over who I work with.”
He sat on the idea of opening his own firm for a year before he implemented the seeds of his idea in January 2010. He initially took a loan of about $15,000 from his parents to get him started, and officially opened the doors of his company 11 months later in November.
Clegg, a marketing graduate from Ohio University, says he’s faced many hurdles since.
“The biggest hurdle yet, though, has been finding insurance carriers to represent. Just because you put on a nice suit and tie, doesn’t mean people want to do business with you,” he says.
“And I also faced the hurdle of trying to find markets.” He got around this by teaming up with a group in Florida’s St Petersburg – a wholesaler that gave him markets, which allowed him to be competitive with both small and large agencies from day one.
There are also day-to-day challenges that come with opening up your own firm, especially since, “the market is extremely soft so people are really shopping for their insurance.
“We’ve been really busy and seen an extreme influx of business so finding the right people to work with, I wouldn’t say has been difficult, but something we’ve had to do pretty quickly,” he says.
Currently Clegg has about seven people working for him, and in the next five years he hopes to expand Clegg Insurance a bit further – he’d like to be “somewhere in between US$15-20 million in premium and maybe with another location on Florida’s Gulf coast”
To those of you who are sitting on an idea, not sure whether you should take a chance, Clegg says that it’s “110%, an achievable goal.”
“It will take a lot of hard work for very little return in the short run, but somewhere between three to five years you’ll be very glad to go out on your own,” he offers. “Oh, and make sure to have an office outside of the house to have somewhere to go every day!”