In my line of work as a Risk Manager, I often run into people who are thinking of opening up their own business or have just started one. Many haven’t done their Business 101 homework and end up struggling or in the end failing.
The other day I was fortunate to hear Jamie Clarke speak at a conference to 500 insurance professionals on risk management and entrepreneurship. If you aren’t familiar with Jamie Clarke, check him out online. He has climbed Everest three times, only making to the summit on his last climb. Talk about being familiar with risk!
I took a lot out of his presentation because I identified with not only what he said, but with his experiences. I’m not only a Risk Manager at the Keating Agency, but I’m also a glorified home chef, entrepreneur, and I am the proud owner of a failed business startup.
Six years ago, one February day in New England, I decided to flip a coin between going back to Tampa, where I knew many friends from college, or taking a risk and going West, since you know, it’s California and San Diego is about the same as Tampa on the map geographically. How different could it be?
I took the little money I had in the bank. Sold my car for a couple hundred bucks. Cashed my savings bonds, a decision I would much later regret, and booked a one-way ticket West with no job and no contacts. I was going with the flow—from mullet wigs and snow cones in San Diego, to World Series Championships and startups in the Bay, to washing dishes at a ski lodge in Utah and then a private chef at a cherry orchard in Montana.
I have been able to learn and grow in each experience I have endeavored. Finally, the insurance in my blood got to me and off to Dallas I went. Right in the thick of Obama Care, wellness plans, and corporate employee benefit plans.
My entrepreneurial spirit eventually got the best of me after seeing a need for transportation to Dallas Cowboy games and an opportunity to pair that with an all-inclusive tailgate. BUS 2 GATE was born and my first “real” business startup ensued. Sometimes you can do all the planning you want but there are always things you can’t control, in this case it was the Cowboys going 4-12.
Maybe it was my grandfather rolling in his grave as a New York Giants fan secretly telling me to come back East and build the Keating Agency into its third generation as we are faced with a changing insurance industry. From each experience, I have gained valuable insight and now use that to my advantage at the Keating Agency.
About the Author
Ryan Keating is a Risk Manager at the Keating Agency and founder of the young professionals group Future Leaders of West Hartford (FLOW).
Learn more about FLOW in our story Entrepreneur Creates West Hartford-Based Young Professionals Group.