November 14, 2010


Taxevity branding by Fritz Lyons
This time last year, I left the corporate world to became an entrepreneur. Scary? Not really. Exciting? Yes.  I wanted to make the switch earlier but was procrastinating. Since I got pushed out after 18 years, I got a nice severance package to cushion the landing.

The transition wasn't very risky because of advance planning. Here's why:
  • Viable business plan (understood the clients and the competitors)
  • Low start-up costs (less than $10,000)
  • Low fixed expenses (business and personal)
The biggest asset is a supportive family since you'll have more challenges than revenue in the beginning.

The Steps

I've devoted my life to life insurance: designing products, helping top advisors with their key clients and harnessing social media to explain the benefits. So switching to selling life insurance wasn't a huge step — though nontraditional for an actuary. I already knew how to do the deep technical work, create effective marketing material, make presentations and network.

If you're lacking essential skills, why not start building them now? Find others who are strong where you're weak. If you can't, perhaps your ideas aren't compelling or you aren't persuasive. The sooner you  find out, the sooner you can improve.


To start, I focused on building a brand that instils confidence. That's important when you're selling a service. For example, you're at a disadvantage if you use a generic email address (e.g., Gmail or Hotmail) and don't build a website. Here are the basics
  1. Company Name: my wife, Sharmila, created the short, intriguing name TaxevityTM
  2. Design: Fritz Lyons did wonders with the logo, business card and PowerPoint template (see the screenshot at the top of this blog post)
  3. Online presence: Laszlo Elo of developed the PS Network, a cohesive structure that incorporates my blogs, newsletter, websites and Twitter feeds
Once Fritz did the basic branding, I created mock-ups and started introducing Taxevity to others. By now, I'd created PowerPoint presentations to explain my vision. The content and online presence weren't finalized but why work sequentially? That's too slow and delays your revenue opportunities.

I needed a distributor since insurers don't deal directly with advisors (see three keys to getting your claim paid). To my pleasant surprise, PPI Advisory agreed. They are the leaders in the high net-worth market. Their support team includes accountants, lawyers and actuaries. That's ideal.


A successful business needs clients. Write that down. For safety, my approach uses multiple channels, each with different  characteristics.

Channel 1: Insurance-licensed Advisors

For immediate revenue, I agreed to split cases with selected advisors I'd supported in the past. They had clients and I had know-how. This no-fail model flopped. There's a huge gap between what these advisors would say and do.  Big hat, no cattle.  Maybe you've had the same experience I didn't have the foolproof measure of trust then. Without trust, working with potential competitors is very risky. Your reputation can also suffer since you're judged by the company you keep.

Channel 2: Collaborators

For near-term revenue, I focused on collaborators with complementary services:  accountants, lawyers, investment advisors and employee benefit specialists.  They already have clients for me. As thanks, collaborators get help with their marketing and may get added to the external team section of the Taxevity website. Building relationships takes time but has lead to opportunities I would not otherwise have found. This channel is a key for growth.

Channel 3: Direct

Going direct has been the most successful approach. Who knew? No intermediaries. No compromises. No delays. I can work to my own standards and timeframe. This channel also takes the most work. My most popular service is an Actuarial Insurance Review (currently free). I didn't know there was a demand but the say-do gap in Channel 1 gnaws at clients' peace of mind. As Yogi Berra said, you'll observe lots just by watching. When I saw the need, I offered a solution.

Going direct is also a way to find more clients for my collaborators.

Lessons For You

This has been a year of major learning. What I'm doing works but the results are taking longer than I'd like.  Impatience is part of being an entrepreneur too.


Podcast Episode 92 (6:06)

direct download | Internet Archive page

PS There's plenty you can do to improve whether or not entrepreneurship is in your planning. Start now.


Paul Nazareth said...

Although I have met professionals in transition who have the same years of experience as yourself I have met few to none with the entrepreneurial drive and creativity.

Most of all I have met virtually none who have kept up the spark for learning their entire career, who have rejected the natural entitlement and arrogance that comes with success and who are willing to mentor others using the considerable wisdom they have gathered along the way.

This is a post of great value to others. Thank you for sharing Promod.

Impatience is indeed a pillar of the entrepreneurial lifestyle. The other three are integrity, pro-activity and knowing your stuff. You possess all three in spades.

Promod said...

Thanks Paul. I won't argue when you're right :)

Humility and learning are keys to success and a happy life.

I saw this on a mug: I quit working the day I got a job. That's funny ... until they try to get another job.

Thicken My Wallet said...

Thanks for the link. Hope your adventure continues well!

Promod said...

Thanks TMW. Your real-life blog posts were very helpful when I was contemplating my switch to entrepreneurship.

I haven't visited regularly in the last 12 months and have probably missed some other gems.

nancy (aka moneycoach) said...

Hey, a belated Happy Anniversary! Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur. You likely know I'm currently working for the GNWT but man, I have business in my blood now and look forward to re-jump-starting YMbD in January. Every good wish for a great Year 2 for you :)

Promod said...

Thanks Nancy. Yes it would be difficult to return to working in a corporate factory again.

All the best in "re-jump-starting" Your Money by Design :)