Taking a break from a 20-year career in IT to raise children and then attempt to reenter the workforce years later can be a daunting task. For Uni Yost, it was a decision of not only going back to work, but did she want to go back to her position in the tech industry, or attempt something new, possibly a line of work which relied more on her degree in accounting and previous business consulting experience?
With a burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit, she decided it was time to make a change and take a chance. Uni opened her own AllState insurance agency startup. She found out quickly, however, that she did not enjoy selling only one insurance company’s products. She left and founded an independent insurance agency start-up so she was not limited and could offer an array of insurance products.
It quickly became clear that acquiring funding for insurance agencies would be a big issue for her. In order to fund her startup agency, she ended up using her own capital at first and then borrowed from family and friends. The banks were wary about giving her business operating loans because she didn’t have high revenue in her agency, length of time in business, and prior insurance experience, even though she had an extensive background in IT and a degree in accounting.
On top of funding her business, Uni found that she had three other problems to face: getting new customers for her businesses, marketing her company, and gaining new growth capital. She knows these problems are not exclusive to woman business owners, but she believes it did play a part in why she had been struggling to make headway. She says insurance reps always come in “assuming the agency owner is a man” and are visibly surprised at times when they meet her. Still, she doesn’t get discouraged and instead explains, “I’m always up for challenges and continue to keep pushing forward.”
To quickly grow her insurance company, she focused on acquiring other agencies. It took many stressful months trying to find a bank that would offer a loan for the insurance market as well as find an insurance agency to purchase that also met the criteria of the bank and SBA. Luckily, since she had already focused on establishing a solid business and personal credit history, she was able to obtain a line of credit, and received additional funding through online lending. Through these ventures, she was able to secure just the right amount of funding to push her businesses to the next level and toward success, and is in a position today that is allowing her to pursue other entrepreneurial endeavors, such as launching a new software company, Currvi and InsurCompare.
Uni’s solid business acumen, previous work experience, education, support from family and friends, and her own resilience helped her finally get her company on the right path of strategic growth. She didn’t give up when faced with what seemed at the time as insurmountable odds, and along the way she learned the value of selling herself to people who didn’t believe in her at first. To prove them wrong was to secure funding that enabled her to pursue her passion, and prove that a woman business owner can succeed in a market primarily dominated by men.
Today, Uni’s company is steadily growing, and she’s excited about the current launch of her software companies. She’s hoping this will better help her match consumers’ needs, and grow her business even more.