Kristin Marquet, of Femfounder recently interviewed me for their author interview series. If you’d like to learn more about my story and philosophy, please read on:
"People are interested in products and services when they feel a positive attitude," with Tony Steuer
Tony’s books, including GET READY!, Insurance Made Easy and Questions and Answers on Life Insurance have won numerous awards. Tony is regularly featured in media including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Fast Company, and other media and has appeared as a guest on shows like ABC’s Seven on Your Side. Learn more at tonysteuer.com.
What is your background?
In 1987, I started as a life insurance agent. In 1995, I became a Life and Disability Insurance Analyst. This license from the California Department of Insurance allows you to charge either a fee for consulting-based engagements or receive a commission for selling an insurance policy. Having this license and the ability to receive a fee, changed the nature of my client relationships.
Over the years, I’ve also done improvisational comedy, teaching wilderness first aid, being a whitewater guide, and managing my son’s little league teams. These experiences have provided skills that were helpful in growing as an educator and speaker.
What inspired you to start your business?
The freedom to set my schedule, select my projects, and choose my clients. Starting my own business allowed me to serve clients with integrity and to create educational resources.
Where is your business based?
A major cost of running a business is maintaining office space. Many years ago, I made the decision that I could save a lot of money by working at home. And that when it was time to meet with clients that I could meet them at their office or take them out for coffee or a meal.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
The most important step was coming up with a business plan/strategy. Once I had a plan, I went deeper into each of the components of the plan. This included a marketing plan and a budget.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
Connecting to people who have similar values. I’m dedicated to education and best practices. Being consistent is key, as this has allowed me to develop a reputation. Knowing what to expect is important to earning trust and referrals.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
A challenge is having more ideas than time to see them through. Learning how to prioritize projects to work on has been a valuable skill. And this increased my ability to focus on one or two projects a day. I’ve also started to break up projects into smaller steps that are easier to accomplish.
How do you stay focused?
Great question. Staying focused is always a challenge. It’s important to know what you need to be focused on. I have a daily list of tasks. Each morning, I choose the tasks that either need to be completed or that I want to complete that day. I try to have an open block of time each day for working on creating content, and another block of time for marketing. I tend to do my best writing in the morning, so I concentrate on writing-based projects in the morning and other types of projects in the afternoon.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
By sticking to who I am. I’ve established my reputation as a subject matter expert, who acts with a consistent set of standards. Basically, people know what to expect and that I will always act in the best interests of my clients.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
Connecting with people has been a great way to grow my business. Reaching out and finding like-minded people. When you share a common interest, it is easier to have something to discuss and to be able to work together.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
To find something that is interesting to you where you can provide value. If you find something interesting, you are going to have a positive attitude about what you are doing. People are interested in products and services when they feel a positive attitude.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
Feedly is one of my favorite apps. Feedly allows me to scan headlines from a wide variety of blogs so that I can always stay up to date on the latest news both personally and professionally.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why
Apple Notes is quickly becoming my favorite tool. It allows you to create notes that include information, make checklists and tables. I use Notes to sketch out blog posts, article ideas, and website content.
Who is your business role model? Why?
Warren Buffett. Warren Buffett is willing to share his lessons learned, both positive and negative. Each year, he releases his annual letter where he discusses how his business performed and the challenges that came up. Warren Buffett follows a consistent, principled philosophy.
How do you balance work and life?
By setting priorities. My first priority is to my family. After that are my clients and others to whom I’ve made commitments. Balance is always challenging, so you have to be flexible and determine what you should eliminate from your life.
What’s your favorite way to decompress?
Reading mysteries is one of my favorite ways to decompress. Reading allows you to focus on the story. Also, going for walks with my wife is a great way to clear my mind along with getting some exercise.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
Continuing to grow the Get Ready Initiative. My mission is to help people be prepared for any financial emergency and advocating for best practices in the financial services industry. I’m excited to be releasing The Get Ready Financial First Aid Kit at the end of the year. The Get Ready Financial First Aid Kit provides all of the resources for people to create and maintain their financial first aid kit. I’ll also be spotlighting leading financial literacy advocates and their content on my website.
How can our readers connect with you?
This interview originally appeared on Femfounder.com.