The narrative for entrepreneurship that has built up over the years is one of acquisition; of wealth, market share and funding. Actually entrepreneurship is about letting go; of legacies, power and perks.
Letting go takes place at a personal and professional level. Personally, being an entrepreneur means little salary and uncertain cash flows for many years. For people, like me, who have worked in large companies it means letting go of the big office, fancy car and coveted Belvedere membership. It’s not just the entrepreneur who has to let go – the entire family shares the load. Children often use conspicuous wealth as an indicator of success and worry that other parents are ahead in some mythical race to success. Holidays and expenditures are carefully planned. Frugality is a virtue that all entrepreneurs value but it is a difficult path.
Building a business is also about letting go. At SecureNow, we let go of many legacy concepts on how an insurance distribution business should be built. Notably, we junked the classical views that insurance must be sold not bought; the quickest way to scale is by acquiring talent from within the industry; the role of technology and the internet in B2B selling is minimal; businesses are always looking for rebates that squeeze margins. All these world views arise from the fundamental belief that commercial insurance is a relationship-based business that will not change in a hurry. That overall belief is wrong.
We’ve successfully let go of these beliefs and built a business that is different – enquiries come in rather than us calling out, technology is deployed across every aspect of our business and our team of about 100 people is primarily from outside the insurance industry. In fact most are fresh out of college and doing an excellent job. Our business earns a healthy margin because businesses value the services and technology that we provide them.
SecureNow has completed five years. In the past 3 years the commercial insurance we have sold has increased 9 fold. For most of our five years we were bootstrapped and profitable, and it is only very recently that we raised external funding. Indian business will not be able to scale unless the commercial insurance industry keeps pace in helping SMEs mitigate the risks they face. B2B sales are best done through intermediaries who keep suppliers on their toes. The fact that less than a quarter of commercial insurance sales in India take place through insurance brokers is an anomaly that we will correct. Over the next 4 to 5 years there have to be a handful of scaled-up insurance intermediaries who develop the market. We intend to be one of them. Letting go will help us get there.