Myth Busted: Entrepreneurs are NOT actually risk takers

Entrepreneurs are often mislabeled as “risk takers,” while in reality the most successful ones make calculated and mindful decisions. This sense of purpose and deliberation comprise a few of the qualities that differentiate successful entrepreneurs from the average risk taker.

A risk takers’ biggest mistake is depending too much on chance. Too often, they lay everything on the line, and thus significantly fail, sometimes without the means to pick themselves back up.    

In our experience, the difference between a risk taker and an entrepreneur is that the latter create innovative ways to reduce risk. In fact, they actively avoid risk and are dedicated to planning every small step to achieve their goals.

Tell-Tale Qualities of a Successful Entrepreneur

Here’s a cohesive list of characteristics that make an entrepreneur successful:

  1. Ambition. They are always on the lookout for the next inspiration
  2. Effective manager of time. Many entrepreneurs are juggling multiple projects at once
  3. Delegation is key. They know that success doesn’t come alone
  4. Confident and self-assured. You’re taking a chance on yourself, so you better believe you can accomplish your goals.
  5. Socialable and well-liked. It’s a truth of the trade. You have to be the person other people want to work with.
  6. Thick-skinned. You will fail many times before you hit the jackpot.
  7. Creative thinker. Not every idea is original. Many entrepreneurs leverage an existing service or product, and make it better.
  8. Solid communicator. Wasting time because of poor communication is not a luxury an entrepreneur can afford.
  9. Knows when to step away. From the computer, from a project … a smart entrepreneur knows when to take a break and recharge.
  10. Proactive. No one will seek your service or product out in the beginning and it’s up to you to make your voice heard.

It’s important for any business owner to take these aspects into consideration—no matter what type of business you run. Keeping these tidbits in mind may help you become a better owner, leader and entrepreneur along the way.

3 Important Tips for Filing your Commercial Insurance Claim

Whether the damage is small or large, tangible or not, any business owner in the process of filing a commercial insurance claim faces a good deal of stress. More time and effort is needed to maintain the business while repairs are negotiated with the insurance policy provider.

We encourage small businesses to take a look at policies every 2-3 years to ensure they’re properly covered. Prevention is also key: owners should evaluate possible threats to the business, develop recovery plans, and test those plans all in advance.

Scott Lacourse, a contributing writer for the Boston Business Journal, makes a crucial note in relation to small businesses:

“Many small businesses skip insurance altogether, or fail to get the coverage they need to cope with incidents like major flooding. Almost 40 percent of small businesses never reopen following a disaster, according to FEMA.”

The strength of this data demonstrates the importance of analyzing acquired insurance policies and minimizing the effects of destructive events. However, should an occurrence arise, we’ve put together three tips to help with your next (or current) commercial insurance claim:

Be attentive to coverage policy time periods

If a claim must be made, owners should take considerable care in filing the claim within the temporal parameters set by the insurance provider. Otherwise, extra costs and impediments may extend the amount of time for recuperation.

Below is a chart that outlines the time-based functions of certain insurance policies as they handle declared claims and actual occurrences.

If you have questions specific to your policy, contact your agent. However, rest assured that, as shown above, real occurrences (during the policy period) will most always be covered, “no matter how much later they are reported.”

Take inventory, record documents, and stay organized 

The evidence for a claim to be submitted needs to be kept together and controlled. Keeping track of all damage is crucial if these problems are to be resolved efficiently.

Some ways to organize include taking inventory of all materials affected, protecting all documents and copies that may be related to the incident, and even taking pictures or procuring a claim from the police (if the situation is applicable).

It also wouldn’t hurt to stay in touch and follow up with the people involved, especially your insurance adjuster.

Hire a loss management team

In the case of large claims, owners might consider hiring a loss management team.

A loss management team could consist of a professional loss specialist, legal expert, or forensic accountant who would help file the claim. Commercial insurance claims are of a legal nature, after all, and if business owners are not experts in this field, it could help to have someone who is on their side.

This decision, again, would depend upon the severity of the incident that caused the claim and if the owner would find such a support group financially feasible—as it would involve added costs.

Liability Insurance: What is NOT Covered

Most corporations opt for some form of liability insurance, and small businesses are no exception. But if you’re new to the world of risk management, the first question to ask yourself is: what exactly is liability insurance?

General liability insurance – often referred to as commercial insurance – is best described as coverage for damages that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay due to bodily injury, property damage or personal and advertising injury arising from the insured’s premises, operations, completed operations and products. Essentially, for both personal injury and property damage claims, you are covered for related legal fees, costs and expenses.

Important aspects of running a business that is covered by this type of insurance include:

  1. The cost of legal defense and any settlement or award should an owner be successfully sued;
  2. Protection against any liability an owner would face as a tenant of damaged rented property.

Some policies can also cover misleading advertising claims, including libel, slander, and copyright infringement.

So what is not covered in your liability insurance plan? Below is a general list of items that are not included in this type of insurance, but will vary by policy.

Employee medical expenses

  • Damage to property owned by the business
  • Vehicles or employees injured in a company vehicle
  • Any damage or injury that involves a person in the company

To summarize, damages to anything owned by the business are not covered; that’s why liability insurance is called a “third party” insurance.

Tips for Selecting the Best General Liability Insurance for Your Business

Understanding the potential risks to your business is a fundamental way to begin this process, because the plan you might need really depends on the type of business you own.

For example, a building contractor faces much higher risks of injury and actual damage to his or her business than, say, a web designer’s business—simply due to the kind of work involved.

Once you have recognized your own business needs, the next step is to fully read the coverage policies. It may seem obvious, but it’s crucial to understand what certain agencies are offering in order to choose the best policy for you.

Something else to consider is the Business Owner’s Policy (BOP), a package deal that most often includes property, general liability, vehicular, and business interruption protection. This option streamlines the process and may cost less than purchasing multiple coverages from different insurers. Again, however, if your business has unique demands that are not covered by an umbrella policy such as the BOP, you may need to invest in additional plans.

If you have any questions regarding liability insurance policies, don’t hesitate to contact a Cleary representative. We’re here to help you protect your business and narrow down the coverages that your company truly needs.

3 Risks that Keep Small Business Owners Up at Night

It’s not easy to run a small business. Business owners face a diverse range of risks-some business-related, but also personal jeopardies such as debt and income loss if things go really wrong. This is understandably stressful as it can leave an air of uncertainty over the future. Technology can also be confusing and might leave a business owner with plenty of questions, such as, what is edge computing? Or which software should I be using for my business? Understandably this can be a difficult field to navigate for any business owner who is not tech savy. Some entrepreneurs might potentially turn to a company similar to Syte Consulting Group or their own trusted advisor to potentially help with managing and planning enterprise resources, to hopefully lessen any future issues.

So what are the highest risks that commonly keep small business owners up at night? An article from Forbes provides some insight; it includes the results from a NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) “Small Business Problems and Priorities Survey” conducted in 2016.

The top three concerns of small business owners, as derived from this survey, were as follows:

  1. The cost of healthcare
  2. Oppressive government regulations
  3. Federal income tax on businesses

You might notice a theme here. Interestingly, according to this study, nine of the top ten small business challenges are associated with government.

What’s the outlier that’s not government related, you ask? Finding qualified employees.

The cost of hiring new employees

Deciding who to hire is an important process for small business owners, but finding the right people is no easy feat. This is where making bad decisions comes into play. However, nowadays small businesses can make wise decisions in the employment process by taking the advantage of employee background check companies (you can take a look at these guys for more information) and hiring the right talent for their company. Background checks can help small businesses from the probability of hiring an unfit person.

According to a “Small Business, Big Hire” survey conducted in 2016 by Monster Worldwide, “nine-in-ten small business owners (89 percent) identify hiring the wrong person for a job as a risk to the company, with half (51 percent) saying it is a major risk.” Many issues can arise when an employee is not fit for a particular job, including product use errors or customer service mishaps, all leading to a negative impact on company productivity and reputation.

To make matters worse, when you hire the wrong person, you waste the organization’s time and money. One-third or more of these owners estimate wasting over 50 hours of their time and over $1,000 due to their most recent wrong hire. This can eventually lead to providing bad services to clients and in the process losing them.

Often times, wrong hires are really an extension of overlooking historical data points from employee lifecycle, training and on-boarding. Typically, these indicators have served a way forward for employee retention. But when these data-points are retroactively applied to hiring strategies, they can yield the desired outcome. As for collecting said data-points, this can be achieved through customized surveys offered by third-parties (have a peek here for better understanding). That is not to say that existing mechanisms such as assessments, interviews etc don’t matter, rather the infusion of data (both historical and new) can certainly reduce the chances of getting bad hires.

The takeaway? You do have some power over who you choose to work with, which has a larger impact on how the business runs than some might think.

And even if you feel powerless against government regulations, there are a variety of support networks specifically designed for small business owners. Here’s a few of them that you should check out:

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

Small Business United (SBU)

National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)

National Small Business Association (NSBA)

At Cleary, we believe life is worth the risk. If you’d like to chat with someone about how to better manage your small business, email us here.

3 Types of Insurance Your Business May Not Need

Let’s face it; insurance agents aren’t normally in the business to tell you what types of a commercial insurance policy you don’t need.  In fact, many of our clients tell us that they often felt uncomfortable talking with former agents for fear they’d over sell them on coverage.

At Cleary Insurance, we’re all about risk management: determining where your risks are, and how to best mitigate them through several methods, one of which is carrying insurance.

So in this spirit, we’ve taken a look at some coverages that you should examine closely before jumping in. And if you ever need advice, just give us a call.

Cyber Liability Insurance

In the digital age, information has never been so accessible—and vulnerable. Online hackers threaten many businesses and companies, and Cyber Liability Insurance may provide protection against these types of attacks.

Commercial Insurance Policy_Keyboard

Heinan Landa, a contributing writer for the Boston Business Journal, highlights some alarming facts in one of his articles:

“According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, one-in five-small businesses falls victim to cybercrime each year, and of those businesses 60-percent will fold within six months of an attack.”

This threat and its detrimental effects are formidable, and certain precautions should definitely be pursued. However, is the danger sizeable enough to necessitate the investment of an entirely new insurance policy?

It all depends on the type of business in question (and the exact nature of information stored). For instance, if a business handles sensitive and private information, then owners might consider one of these cyber liability coverages.

Commercial Insurance Policy_Lock and Key

On the other hand, consider if your existing insurance can be formatted to cover your needs. If you do not handle customer data, then your Errors and Omissions policy may cover certain company claims.

It is crucial to double check obtained insurances to verify if further coverage is truly required. And as always, it is imperative to remain proactive: invest in secure servers, establish standard processes for passwords and file sharing, and educate employees about cyber-safety.

Employee Dishonesty Insurance

As much as business owners like to trust their employees, there’s always the chance of theft or other crimes. Employee Dishonesty Insurance serves to support owners against such occurrences.

Commercial Insurance Policy_Boardroom

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce provides some startling statistics on crime resulting from employee dishonesty:

“The median loss is around $140,000, and small businesses, those with less than 500 employees, suffer as much as $100,000 more in losses than larger companies. Employers only discover these losses an average of 10 percent of the time, and the losses that are discovered result in the employer regrouping nothing more than 40 percent of the time.”

It’s no wonder why small businesses in particular see a need for this type of insurance.

However, employee dishonesty is not offered in most commercial insurance policies and would be considered a secondary coverage. It’s all up to the owner; are there already measures put in place to monitor the activity of employees? Does the size of the business necessitate this extra insurance? If you are at all unsure, don’t hesitate to contact a Cleary agent to discuss the matter further.

Product Liability Insurance and other Industry-Specific Policies

Business owners who do not require Product Liability Insurance can easily avoid it. Product Liability Insurance applies to businesses that make, distribute, or sell a product, protecting you from any losses related to a product defect. Therefore, if an owner’s business does not function in this way, there’s no need to invest in this type of insurance.

There are other industry-specific policies that could be thrown in front of you, but easily avoided, such as Boiler and Machinery, Commercial Auto, and so on. It may seem simple enough, but contact one of our representatives if you feel like you’re signed up for more than you need.

ACA Repeal and Replace Efforts Unsuccessful in U.S. Senate

In the early hours of July 28, Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ended when the Senate fell short of the 51 votes required to pass the Health Care Freedom Act (HCFA). Called the “skinny repeal bill,” it would have eliminated the individual mandate penalty and temporarily repealed the employer mandate penalty and medical device tax along with providing states flexibility on certain ACA requirements. Earlier in the week, separate votes on the Better Care Reconciliation Act (the Senate’s alternative to the American Health Care Act) and the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act (the “repeal and delay” option) also failed. Both parties have indicated next steps may include bipartisan efforts to fix the ACA and stabilize the market. Specific plans and a timeline have not been discussed yet.

Republican leadership in Congress or the Administration may also pursue other ways to dismantle, replace or reform the ACA including regulatory action, regulatory non-enforcement or other options, as outlined in our March 30 Update.
ACA Remains the Law of the Land

The ACA remains the law of the land. Ongoing compliance with the law is required unless and until official guidance to the contrary is issued. We encourage employers and broker partners to use Your ACA Roadmap to receive a personalized snapshot of annual responsibilities. Visit for more information.

To stay up to date on the evolving state of health care reform, we encourage you to bookmark, including the Repeal and Replace Update webpage, where we continuously update information as it becomes available.

Brought to you by Cigna Health Care Reform Consulting and Communications

Massachusetts Construction Classification Premium Adjustment Program (MCCPAP)!

Presented by Michael Regan

The Massachusetts Construction Classification Premium Adjustment Program (MCCPAP) applies to employers who are eligible for workers compensation experience rating and have exposure in any of the enumerated construction classifications. The MCCPAP may reduce an employer’s workers compensation premium. The calculated credit is applied to all of the employer’s workers compensation classifications.

The basic premise for the credit is that contractors who pay “prevailing” or union wages are at a workers compensation premium disadvantage to those that don’t; even though the work is the same and the exposure the same.

For example, a carpenter in North Adams has the same work exposure as a carpenter in Boston. But, the wages are higher in Boston then in North Adams. The MCCPAP helps to level this variance for Workers Compensation premium purposes.  In fact, I have seen credits of over 20% applied to some of our account which is a major cost savings.

A contractor may apply for the MCCPAP at the Massachusetts Workers Compensation Rating bureau website,   If a credit is calculated the Bureau will notify the insurance carrier on behalf of the employer and the credit would be automatically applied.

Interest Rates and Their Effect on Investing

As a result of the prolonged Federal Reserve’s involvement in stimulating the economy, interest rates are and have been at extreme lows. Over the course of the next five to ten years, the Fed is expected to pull back its control in a way which will allow rates to increase, having an inevitable effect on the markets as a whole.  As a result, portfolios heavy in bonds may experience poor performance in the market during periods of rising interest rates. When rates in the open market are offering higher credited rates to lenders, investors tend to sell their existing debt, resulting in falling prices. Longer term debt is particularly more sensitive to interest rate risk, and this, as well as debt quality, will all want to be considerations when discussing with clients and/or prospective clients

Likewise, rising rates can have a negative effect on the Consumer Cyclical sector, as the fact that the general public will tend to have less discretionary spending money due to more expensive borrowing and potential price hikes. However, investing in bank equities can be attractive in anticipation of these times, as they are able to finance out at more profitable margins.

Four Reasons to Love Your Mortgage

1.     It’s probably the cheapest way to borrow  –  The interest incurred is tax-deductible and the rate should be low as the loan is secured by your home.

2.     It creates leverage – A mortgage can be compared to opening a margin account at a brokerage because it can increase your assets with borrowed money.  The difference is your mortgage lender can’t demand it’s money back if your home price drops.

3.     It’s a back-up source of funds for emergencies – If you have some equity built up, consider setting up a home-equity line of credit.  Large medical bills or repairs can be funded by borrowing against the equity you have built up.

4.     It makes inflation your friend – Like other hard assets, real estate tends to hold its value when inflation picks up. With a mortgage, you get double the protection.  The payments on a fixed rate mortgage stay constant even with rising inflation, which means in the future you are paying with less valuable dollars while the value of your home could be increasing.