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Small Business Week – Business Growth Advice from Advisors

By: Benefits by Design | Tuesday October 18, 2022

Updated : Friday October 21, 2022

Small business growth and innovation can be challenging, especially when you don’t have the funds to compete with the larger corporations. October 16th to 22nd is small business week, and the theme this year is “Dare to do things differently: Power up your growth.”   

The pandemic has provided new avenues for business growth. It has also brought new concepts and ways of doing business that were previously unexplored. No matter the industry, there are always pioneers leading the charge.  

Small Business Growth Advice from Advisors 

Benefits by Design asked our advisor partners about best practices on how they stay motivated and inspired. And how they’ve continued to grow their business in these unprecedented times.

How to Choose An Insurance Advisor for Your Employee Benefits Plan

“What inspires or motivates you towards the future growth of your business?”

“I am inspired to build a business that I would be proud to leave as a legacy to my granddaughters or other young, female advisors. Having pursued previous male-dominated roles, in banking and in the construction sector, I am excited to be amongst the minority of female advisors who have chosen to pursue a career as an Employee Benefits Specialist. I feel that women offer a very different perspective in the benefits space and one that is very much needed in the world, today.”

“I am inspired to build a business that I would be proud to leave as a legacy to my granddaughters or other young, female advisors. Having pursued previous male-dominated roles, in banking and in the construction sector, I am excited to be amongst the minority of female advisors who have chosen to pursue a career as an Employee Benefits Specialist. I feel that women offer a very different perspective in the benefits space and one that is very much needed in the world, today.” — Wendy Martin 

"What inspires or motivates you towards the future growth of your business?"  “Knowing that many groups don’t receive the full scope of service and knowledge they deserve from their advisors. Regardless of size, all employers deserve to be presented with a robust and transparent offering from the advisors they choose to work with. Understanding that there is a shortfall in the benefits industry, I am motivated to find and educate as many clients as possible.”   Image of Wil Pointon, Account Executive – Hub International Limited

“Knowing that many groups don’t receive the full scope of service and knowledge they deserve from their advisors. Regardless of size, all employers deserve to be presented with a robust and transparent offering from the advisors they choose to work with. Understanding that there is a shortfall in the benefits industry, I am motivated to find and educate as many clients as possible.”  — Wil Pointon 

“What are some non-traditional or innovative ideas/processes/ changes you have made in the past to help grow your business?” 

"What are some non-traditional or innovative ideas/processes/changes you have made in the past to help grow your business?"  "We have always been focused on supporting mental health needs and promoting mental health resources. Last year, we started partnering with suppliers to add Registered Clinical Counsellors to the combined modality of Psychologist / Social Worker AND to increase the annual maximum (for that combined modality only) without impacting the Healthcare rates. We had a nearly 100% uptake in this offer, which illustrated that employers also want to support the mental health of their employees. Plus, it was a great news story to share this additional of this valuable coverage—at a time when so many people need this type of care—at no extra cost.” - Nicole Ardiel, Employee Benefits Specialist – McVagh Cunningham Group

“We have always been focused on supporting mental health needs and promoting mental health resources. Last year, we started partnering with suppliers to add Registered Clinical Counsellors to the combined modality of Psychologist / Social Worker AND to increase the annual maximum (for that combined modality only) without impacting the Healthcare rates. We had a nearly 100% uptake in this offer, which illustrated that employers also want to support the mental health of their employees. Plus, it was a great news story to share this additional of this valuable coverage—at a time when so many people need this type of care—at no extra cost.” – Nicole Ardiel 

"What are some non-traditional or innovative ideas/processes/changes you have made in the past to help grow your business?"  “I have been a big adaptor of Health and Wellness Spending Accounts and Catastrophic Hybrid Plans, as ways of providing the employer/plan sponsor with cost certainty while, at the same time, providing the employee/plan member with flexibility and choice.” - Wendy Martin  GBA, CHS, BA - President and Independent Financial Advisor - Wendy Martin Financial

“I have been a big adaptor of Health and Wellness Spending Accounts and Catastrophic Hybrid Plans, as ways of providing the employer/plan sponsor with cost certainty while, at the same time, providing the employee/plan member with flexibility and choice.” – Wendy Martin 

“What is something fun or different you have done for a client or given to a client to help build your relationship?” 

"What is something fun or different you have done for a client or given to a client to help build your relationship?"  “I’m an artistic sort and I paint. I turn these paintings into birthday post cards and send them to clients as a custom-made birthday painting gift just for them.” Alt text: Image of Lori Power, Founder and Group Benefits Consultant – MP Benefits Inc.

“I’m an artistic sort and I paint. I turn these paintings into birthday post cards and send them to clients as a custom-made birthday painting gift just for them.” – Lori Power 

"What is something fun or different you have done for a client or given to a client to help build your relationship?"  “Golf balls are a great gift to provide clients with. It allows the employers you work with to remember your name on a Saturday before hitting it into the trees. It's also great marketing for the next person that finds it.”  Image of Wil Pointon, Account Executive – Hub International Limited

“Golf balls are a great gift to provide clients with. It allows the employers you work with to remember your name on a Saturday before hitting it into the trees. It’s also great marketing for the next person that finds it.” -Wil Pointon 

"What is something fun or different you have done for a client or given to a client to help build your relationship?"  "In February of this year, right before Valentine’s Day, we sent gratitude cards to each of our clients, along with two chocolate hearts and four gold star stickers. In the card, we wrote about how much we appreciated them (the chocolate hearts as evidence of our “love”) and how tough these last few years have been. We encouraged our clients to give themselves a gold star and to hand one to whomever on their team deserved one. In our culture, we don’t often acknowledge what we’ve been through and how far we’ve come. The gold stars were meant to be a light and whimsical way of giving people permission to pat themselves on the back for their resilience, and to share that pat on the back with others.” Image of Nicole Ardiel, Employee Benefits Specialist – McVagh Cunningham Group

“In February of this year, right before Valentine’s Day, we sent gratitude cards to each of our clients, along with two chocolate hearts and four gold star stickers. In the card, we wrote about how much we appreciated them (the chocolate hearts as evidence of our “love”) and how tough these last few years have been. We encouraged our clients to give themselves a gold star and to hand one to whomever on their team deserved one. In our culture, we don’t often acknowledge what we’ve been through and how far we’ve come. The gold stars were meant to be a light and whimsical way of giving people permission to pat themselves on the back for their resilience, and to share that pat on the back with others.” – Nicole Ardiel 

“How did you adapt during the pandemic? Did you see growth in your business as a result of adopting different business practices? Have you kept them in place?” 

"How did you adapt during the pandemic? Did you see growth in your business as a result of adopting different business practices? Have you kept them in place?" “I transitioned to the broker side of the industry in the middle of the pandemic which was certainly a tough learning curve. After countless days and hours at the computer, I learned the hard way that I could not be the best broker I could be if I was always burnt out and as a result, realized that I needed to have a better work-life balance. This has drastically changed the way I organize my days and I think I am a better broker because of it. A home workout is a great way to take 30 minutes out of your day to refresh yourself and reset for the afternoon.” Image of Wil Pointon, Account Executive – Hub International Limited

“I transitioned to the broker side of the industry in the middle of the pandemic which was certainly a tough learning curve. After countless days and hours at the computer, I learned the hard way that I could not be the best broker I could be if I was always burnt out and as a result, realized that I needed to have a better work-life balance. This has drastically changed the way I organize my days and I think I am a better broker because of it. A home workout is a great way to take 30 minutes out of your day to refresh yourself and reset for the afternoon.” – Wil Pointon 

"How did you adapt during the pandemic? Did you see growth in your business as a result of adopting different business practices? Have you kept them in place?"  “I decided to launch my business, during the pandemic, and have adopted my own, unique business practices and processes. Instead of focusing strictly on sales, I put my focus on building or strengthening relationships. People need to trust you and have faith in you before they will ever do business with you. My business has been on a steady growth trajectory, mostly due to word-of-mouth referrals and introductions. As live events have resumed, it has enabled me to connect with more people and continue to grow my business.” Image of Wendy Martin, GBA, CHS, BA - President and Independent Financial Advisor - Wendy Martin Financial

“I decided to launch my business, during the pandemic, and have adopted my own, unique business practices and processes. Instead of focusing strictly on sales, I put my focus on building or strengthening relationships. People need to trust you and have faith in you before they will ever do business with you. My business has been on a steady growth trajectory, mostly due to word-of-mouth referrals and introductions. As live events have resumed, it has enabled me to connect with more people and continue to grow my business.” – Wendy Martin

"How did you adapt during the pandemic? Did you see growth in your business as a result of adopting different business practices? Have you kept them in place?"  “Consistency and flow … what we did prior became the building blocks to what we built on top of those things. More touch points, creative ways to connect, striving to understand their plight through their eyes and not ours. Building to their terms, not ours. Understanding and continuing the message that we are NOT rate brokers—we are benefit consultants.” Image of Lori Power, Founder and Group Benefits Consultant – MP Benefits Inc.

“Consistency and flow … what we did prior became the building blocks to what we built on top of those things. More touch points, creative ways to connect, striving to understand their plight through their eyes and not ours. Building to their terms, not ours. Understanding and continuing the message that we are NOT rate brokers—we are benefit consultants.” – Lori Power 

“Are you doing something different than the norm? A new twist on an old way of doing business?” 

"Are you doing something different than the norm? A new twist on an old way of doing business?"    Image of“This is a funny question, because I feel that I do EVERYTHING differently from the norm! One thing I’ve chosen to focus on lately is raising awareness about weight stigma and fat shaming. Through my virtual connections and all my learnings since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve had the opportunity to bring this very sensitive and prevalent topic forward and start to make steps towards change in the benefits world. Treatment and tools for those who are living in bigger bodies is not always included on a benefit plan, and I am hoping we can all work together to change that.” Nicole Ardiel, Employee Benefits Specialist – McVagh Cunningham Group

“This is a funny question, because I feel that I do EVERYTHING differently from the norm! One thing I’ve chosen to focus on lately is raising awareness about weight stigma and fat shaming. Through my virtual connections and all my learnings since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve had the opportunity to bring this very sensitive and prevalent topic forward and start to make steps towards change in the benefits world. Treatment and tools for those who are living in bigger bodies is not always included on a benefit plan, and I am hoping we can all work together to change that.” – Nicole Ardiel 

"Are you doing something different than the norm? A new twist on an old way of doing business?" “We’ve always been about providing choice and control—choice of coverage and control over the pricing, but we have stepped this up to align benefits with the productivity and can actively show ROI—now it’s all about “investing” in people because no matter the industry, the technology, there’s a person on the other side.” Image of Nicole Ardiel, Employee Benefits Specialist – McVagh Cunningham Group

“We’ve always been about providing choice and control—choice of coverage and control over the pricing, but we have stepped this up to align benefits with the productivity and can actively show ROI—now it’s all about “investing” in people because no matter the industry, the technology, there’s a person on the other side.” – Lori Power

"Are you doing something different than the norm? A new twist on an old way of doing business?"  “Working in the small group space, I find my clients often do not have a full scope of the risks that they may face as business owners. Utilizing the size and scale of HUB, I am not only talking to my clients about benefits but also about other risks that are present in their industry. Providing clients with knowledge goes far beyond simply benefits.”  Image of Wil Pointon, Account Executive – Hub International Limited

“Working in the small group space, I find my clients often do not have a full scope of the risks that they may face as business owners. Utilizing the size and scale of HUB, I am not only talking to my clients about benefits but also about other risks that are present in their industry. Providing clients with knowledge goes far beyond simply benefits.”  – Wil Pointon 

Want to learn more about what it takes to be a top-notch benefits advisor?

The Career Path of a Benefits Advisor