In 2007, Jeff Pitta started Continental Health Alliance (CHA) in Nashville, TN. Under his leadership as CEO, CHA has doubled in business every year for the past five years and is on course to continue that growth. Follow him @health_tn.
Who’s your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
One of my biggest heroes is a great businessman, author, and personal friend Randall Baskin. He’s such an inspiration. This man grew up very poor in the middle of the Great Depression in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and made himself into a millionaire.
Mr. Baskin taught me everything I know about being a top-notch insurance agent and he helped me launch my own insurance business. I don’t know where I’d be in business or in life without his guidance. I would recommend his book, “Growing Rich: Success in Business, Success in Life,” to everyone reading this article.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Do what’s best for your customer.
What’s important is that you care and you act. The one thing I miss the most about sales is that feeling I got when I was able to help someone qualify for a benefit that they couldn’t previously afford. There aren’t many jobs where you can go to work and help people qualify for free dentures. Most of us take these things in life for granted. After these moments, I always thought to myself, “I can’t believe I am getting paid to do this.”
Never force a sale. There will be plenty of people you can help. I learned from the very beginning that putting a client in the wrong product has much larger consequences on them than it has on my paycheck. Walking away from a sale actually increased my paycheck. The member would be so impressed that I didn’t pressure them into a product that they would refer their friends and family to me.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
One of my biggest mistakes in business was trying to diversify too soon. After the first two years of running my core business, I had some money to reinvest. I decided to purchase a P&C (property and casualty insurance) business instead of reinvesting in my core business.
Initially, the P&C company was not profitable and I was spending more money to keep it afloat. I believe it put my core business behind a couple years. Looking back on it now, I would have grown the core business out first and waited to diversify our business.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
The first hour of my business day is usually checking in with my team and returning phone calls.
I have a great team working for me. They strive to be a step ahead and they work really hard. I’m proud to have a strong, smart and fun group. One of my daily goals is making sure that they have what they need. If they don’t I make sure I get the right people or resources in front of them to help them achieve their goals or complete a task.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Focus on service, not finances. To give real service you must add something that cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity. Money is important, but if you commit to offering a high level of service day in and day out, the money will come.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Set goals. Think of something you want to do or work towards and write it down. Tell someone. Telling someone you know about our goals increases the likelihood that you will stick with them. Break your goal down and plan your first step. Don’t stop until you’ve hit it, and don’t forget to celebrate.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
As insurance agents, we have a responsibility to help everyone get the best healthcare possible. If we’ve helped one person or 1,000 get the health coverage or benefits they need, I call it a success.