Eleven years ago, I started a consulting business with one client. In the timespan of just over three years, I expanded into an office with partners and employees, laid everyone off when the economy turned ugly, and ended up working out of my living room before finally calling it quits. During that time, my New Year’s resolutions were always work-related.
The goals and resolutions I made during those years included:
- Year One: Do more outbound marketing.
- Year Two: Sign on three new clients.
- Year Three: Give the business one more year.
There was no fourth year.
All in all, the handful of years provided invaluable work experience, in spite of the eventual failure of my business. However, if I could do it all over again, I would make and keep other resolutions to safeguard my well-being and the success of my company. If someone had talked to me about insurance when I started my business, things might have turned out differently.
Insurance Tips for Small Business Owners
1. Stay Fit
Millions of Americans create New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and quit smoking. These health-related decisions have financial benefits, too. A report eHealthInsurance published in December 2011 found that on average, smokers pay 14% more for health insurance, while obese people pay 22.6% more per month than people with a healthy body mass index (BMI). Losing weight and giving up tobacco can make a huge difference in your overall health and wealth.
2. Don’t Neglect Your Health
When I had my business, I tried to stay in shape. But a healthy lifestyle involves more than just staying physically fit. I was without health insurance for 18 months, and during that time my health impacted my business on two separate occasions: A snowboarding accident and severe food poisoning on my way to Las Vegas cost me two weeks of billable hours and face time with important clients.
I felt that I could not afford to seek medical treatment, but a couple of trips to the doctor for painkillers and antibiotics could have saved me time and money.
3. Expect the Best, But Plan for the Worst
In 2003, a colleague and friend of mine died in a car accident. He was a freelance writer and video editor with a wife and two kids. The tragic loss was compounded because he had no life insurance and the family had little savings. Our community rallied to help his wife pay for the funeral and to move back in with her parents, but money was very, very tight.
If you have a business, your employees and clients could also be at risk if the worst should happen and you don’t have a safety net in place.
4. Expand Your Definition of Insurance
When considering health insurance, most people think of “major medical,” a comprehensive insurance that covers everything from colds to cancer. Everyone should have major medical health insurance, but sometimes it’s just not an option.
If you cannot afford major medical insurance, or if you have a pre-existing condition, you may still secure your business from accidents or injuries with products such as accident insurance and critical illness insurance. These plans pay you – not the doctor or hospital – when you have an insurance claim, which means you can use the money to pay for expenses including health insurance deductibles, unpaid medical bills, rent, and groceries.
It is advisable to couple accident insurance with a health insurance policy for optimum protection, but if money is a real issue, accident coverage is fairly inexpensive. For example, as of December 2011, an accident insurance quote for a 35-year-old male in northern California is less than $25 per month.
5. Always Do Your Research
When you look for office space, you don’t immediately take the first office you see. You shop around to find the best space available in your price range. Also, you don’t just assume you can’t afford the space without investigating first. The same thing goes for insurance. To get the best deal, you need to compare multiple policies from different carriers. And don’t ever assume you simply can’t afford a policy until you find out how much it costs.
Case in point: Many people between the ages of 18 and 30 believe they must pay more than $225 a month for an out-of-pocket health insurance plan. But in reality, the average person in the 18 to 34 age range only pays between $110 and $139 per month for a major medical health insurance plan. Of course, prices vary and policies can cost more depending on different factors, such as personal health and your medical history. But if you shop around for the best price, you can likely find an insurance policy to fit your budget.
When you’re trying to grow a business, you can sometimes lose sight of the big picture, but it’s important to always keep it mind. Heading into the new year, take a step back and consider the people depending on you, and the risks you, your family, and your business must face if something unexpected happens.
Then, be proactive and find an expert who can help you get the coverage you need to ensure your continued well-being and the success of your business.
What are your New Year’s resolutions for your business?
This is a guest article by Nate Purpura, Director of Communications at eHealthInsurance.
(photo credit: Shutterstock)