We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Fletcher Roberts a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Fletcher, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Often outsiders look at a successful business and think it became a success overnight. Even media and especially movies love to gloss over nitty, gritty details that went into that middle phase of your business – after you started but before you got to where you are today. In our experience, overnight success is usually the result of years of hard work laying the foundation for success, but unfortunately, it’s exactly this part of the story that most of the media ignores. Can you talk to us about your scaling up story – what are some of the nitty, gritty details folks should know about?
Scaling up as an entrepreneur can be very difficult. Most people think of scaling up from the position of an employee, taking part in their company’s mission to reach more clients through cold calling and advertisements in attempts to sell more of their products or services. Doing this on your own as a small business owner or independent contractor can be very time consuming and extremely challenging. When I started my business in 2016, I had very little experience in my industry and even less experience leading others. What I did have at the time was good mentorship, a desire to grow, and a platform that allowed me to build a network of likeminded business professionals. Increasing my business IQ and leadership capabilities gave me the confidence to work with higher identity clients and build relationships with ambitious businesspeople. However, it was the ability I had to bring on key people and duplicate my skills into them that was the determining factor between working 12 hours a day for myself or having a business that continuously generated new leads and created opportunities to bring value to the marketplace. Over the last 6 years I have found several key individuals who have become invaluable to my business and future goals. Based on what they have contributed, I have had the ability to serve several military, law enforcement, and first responder groups around Southern California. Multiple businesses and their employees now have someone they can trust will be there to serve them, and countless families are now in a better position going into the future. To sum it up, people are my greatest asset, and I make it a point to publicly appreciate them because my business could not function without them.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
For those readers who haven’t seen my previous article, I come from a background of military science and aviation. Growing up with a Navy Commander and combat pilot for a father tends to lead you down the path of having some big shoes to fill. On my 18th birthday I enrolled in flight school, earning my airman’s certificate in 8 months, and the year following I joined the US Army ROTC program at San Diego State University. My plan at the time was to complete college with 4 years of military service under my belt, commission as an officer, and ultimately become an Army aviator similar to my father’s career path. However, things don’t always go according to plan, and in 2012 I was informed that I would not qualify for my intended military occupation in aviation. This was a huge blow to my ego, and it taught me that nothing is guaranteed in life. Uncertain of what to do next, I enrolled in the graduate program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University under the assumption that in order to be competitive in the job market I would need another degree. During this time, I worked at a local diner and went to school at night while I searched for what my next career would be.
Then one day in 2016, I was introduced to the senior broker of a local financial firm, and from that point on I knew what I wanted to do. The day I interviewed, I met several seasoned insurance and investment advisors who had made their way to owning successful agencies. They explained that the company’s platformed was designed for me to learn the ins and outs of the industry during my first few weeks, and once I became fully licensed I would have the ability to build a business that would eventually outlive me. Six years later I have an agency that serves thousands of clients, in 12 different languages, and can be found in all 50 states. My company’s mission is to serve anyone, regardless of their race, religion, or financial situation, with the best products and solutions from the providers they know and trust. Based on the current growth of my company and the success of our clients, it is a very real possibility that we will see expansion into international markets withing the decade.
If you have multiple revenue streams in your business, would you mind opening up about what those streams are and how they fit together?
One of the biggest things that stood out to me when first entering the financial industry was the amount of opportunity that exists in the world surrounding money and finance. Most people don’t realize how much of the US economy consists of financial transitions and services. Moreover, it’s often overlooked how much influence major financial institutions have on our global economy. Have you ever looked at a city skyline and noticed how many banks, insurance companies, and real estate firms own the majority of buildings and stadiums? I immediately understood how great the need was, and how much money was being left on the table by these big companies. In my line of work, most people who reside in the middle- and lower-income classes are being overlooked. My company’s mission however, is to work with any type of client no matter their circumstances, thus allowing for far more business to take place and creates a more level playing field for our agents.
Serving our clients is priority one, and whenever my team or I help a client, we are directly compensated by the provider we use for that particular plan. This translates to our clients receiving the best prices and products on the market, and no fear of a bill or additional fees showing up after the fact. Because I am an agency owner, when an agent on my team helps a client, I receive agency income known as override. When factoring the total production of my team and I’s production, the company may also pay incentive bonuses and offer trips paid for by our executives or product providers. However, what stood out to me the most was the residual income stream that is created by building a book of clientele and continuing to maintain the relationship decades into the future. Cultivating great client relationships pays the biggest dividends and has allowed countless people ahead of me to retire with an income that truly allows them to live the rest of their lives on their terms.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
Resilience is an important topic when I speak to fellow business owners. If you want to go into business for yourself, or start a business with other people, you have to be mentally tough and prepared to take on any challenge. Ask anyone who’s owned a business and they’ll tell you that you’re going to encounter tough times similar to what we saw during the 2008 recession, the recent pandemic, or the current state of our economy. You’re going to have bad clients, unreliable employees, and business partners who cost you money and ruin what took you years to build. You might even be in an industry that is heavily affected by laws and regulations, forcing you to constantly adapt and change your processes. Just know that tough times don’t last, tough people do!
Along my self-improvement journey, I have read several books about mindset and mental toughness, and the one thing that they all have in common is you have to come back to your vision and goals if you want to make it through. Over the last 6 years in business, I have been through my share of hard times, people, clients, and world events have tested me constantly. The one thing that got me through it is the belief in myself and the saying that “I made it through the last thing, I’ll make it through this thing.” If you’re contemplating starting a business or have already done so, stay positive always! Remember why you started. Who are you doing it for and what will your life look like if you don’t give up? If you know someone who’s starting a business, support their ideas, buy from them, or share them on social media, it means a lot more than you think.
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