What do you do? 

I am a licensed Accident, Health, and Life insurance agent in Minnesota. My specialties include working with individuals eligible for Medicare, as well as individuals, families, and small groups with two to ten employees. I am also a certified MNSure broker. 

What inspired you to start your business? 

I was a Medicare Specialist with Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN from 2010-2014. They reorganized my department and I was impacted. I decided that I was going to call the shots going forward, and the inspiration for Guidance Insurance Solutions was born!  

What's special about your business? 

Spectacular service is key for me. I have worked in the service industry my entire career, so always answering my phone and responding quickly and accurately to my clients' questions is extremely important to me. The reward for my service-centric approach is a steady stream of referrals.  

What have been the high and low points of being a business owner? 

The high point is that I control my own hours and schedule. It allows flexibility for me to work from wherever I am. I can meet my clients in a coffee shop or at their house or business. I can take client calls while I am on vacation in Mexico. The downside to that flexibility is that there is a lack of camaraderie that you get in a regular business environment. 

What have you learned from your experiences as a business owner? 

I have learned that I don't know everything, and can’t know it all. As a small business owner, you have to realize there are a lot of resources out there that can help you along the way. You have to be willing to reach out to other experts to get advice, and be open to other perspectives that may help to improve your business. 

What is your relationship with SCORE? 
SCORE client
What influenced you to seek help from SCORE? 

I started Guidance Insurance Solutions in 2014. After I went through a few busy enrollment seasons, I wanted to take advantage of some down time to find a mentor. In January 2018, I reached out to SCORE to be connected with a mentor and a few weeks later Bob Swygman reached out to me. 

How SCORE helped. 

I struggled with which business activities to focus on. I met with Bob and decompartmentalized everything. He steered me in the direction of writing a successful business plan, establishing my legal business entity, and referred me to tax accountants. The best part about working with Bob was he knew the industry and understood the insurance agent sales process and how agents are compensated, for example. 

What's great about my mentor? 

Bob is supportive. He’s a great listener, low-key, and is easy to talk to. He listens to what I have to say. He then offers his advice, and if my question is outside his realm of expertise, he will find the resources for me. Bob reminded me that I need to do what is best for me and my business. Focus on specific goals. We usually met or spoke 3-4 times a year.

I also love having someone to bounce ideas off of. I found that individuals were coming to me after retirement and experiencing sticker shock. I had the idea a few years ago to hold pre-retirement community education classes, so individuals who were nearing retirement could start preparing for the time when retirement came. Bob thought the idea was great and it was just nice to know that I had the support of someone who I trusted.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a small business? 

Do some research. Make sure that you focus your business on your strengths, skillsets, and what you are passionate about. Just running the business is hard enough, but if you already have the experience and knowledge, it will help you through that first hurdle of starting your business. Lastly, don't be afraid to ask for advice from other experts. 

What would you tell a fellow business owner about SCORE? 

Great organization for any small business that needs support. SCORE is a great resource for new or existing businesses who need guidance to take their business to the next level. 

Pictured below: Top photo: Theresa with the Guidance Insurance Solutions banner display at the 2019 Burnsville Senior Expo. 

Bottom photo: Theresa at the 2019 Eagan Senior Expo with two visitors.

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Medicare health insurance expo retiree
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My Mentors