Passion, Balance and Motivation: Tips and Tricks for Business Owners

Sponsored by American Family Insurance

Photos of Kendra Wright, Adrena Bacon, Christina Smith-Gallagher, Keri Jones and Leticia Guzman

Image courtesy of American Family Insurance.

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April 21, 2024 at 10:41AM UTC

Starting or taking over a new business can be intimidating and stressful. What’s the best way to motivate yourself and your team? How do you balance work and your personal life? How can you best push past challenges? Well, American Family Insurance talked to five American Family Insurance agency owners, who shared their best tips for success. Here, we at Fairygodboss have highlighted a few of the ways that these women have turned their hard work and motivation into success.

Passion + Perseverance.

Leticia Guzman was young and relatively inexperienced when she first applied to work at an American Family Insurance agency. “I had nothing to lose, but everything to gain”, Guzman states. And gain she did, getting the job as a customer service rep and eventually the opportunity to own an agency. Throughout her journey, Guzman has kept her mentality of not letting anything get in her way. “I happen to love a challenge and use it as motivation,” she says. Guzman credits her support system for helping her conquer challenges with being a business owner. When asked about how gender or race affect her as a business owner, she states that “I don’t pay attention to the facts that don’t matter. I am no different. If anything, I’m going to utilize it somehow in my benefit.” She says her success as a business owner comes from resilience and confidence, while also having a driving passion. 

Kendra Wright, another featured business owner, shares more advice on overcoming the challenges in her field, especially when just starting out. “Even though everyone has some type of fear when embarking on adventures, fear is a sign that you’re challenging yourself to get after new things,” Wright explains. Acknowledging your fear and still moving forward are important leadership traits that help you take care of customers and your employees. For Wright, this is imperative, since she notes that one of the most rewarding aspects of owning her business is helping her employees succeed. 

For Wright, maintaining a “we before me” mindset is key to forming a workplace full of passionate people. “There is nothing solo about success,” Wright says. 

Finding the balance between professional and personal.

Determining how to balance her professional ambitions and growing family was at the forefront of Christina Smith-Gallagher’s mind when she opened her agency while pregnant. Now, Smith-Gallagher has had a great deal of experience in how to maintain work-life balance at her agency. At the heart of this, is having a team that she can rely on. “I rely heavily on my team,” 

Smith-Gallagher says. “We support each other both professionally and personally.” Her team's adaptability helps the agency overcome many challenges. 

Smith-Gallagher emphasizes the importance of prioritizing work-life balance by focusing on prioritization — identifying the most impactful and valuable aspects of your workday and focusing on those while remaining agile when obstacles come your way, she notes. 

Motivating yourself and your team.

Keri Jones, agency owner, takes pride in her ability to inspire customers to start their own business. This is not surprising for Jones, since motivating herself and others is a key strength of Jones’. Previously, she had the motivation and drive to take a career leap from owning a salon and commercial bakery to becoming an agent-in-training. 

This turned out to be a great decision, as Jones’ agency is now not only successful, but inspirational to others. One key to her success is flexibility, with Jones stating that it’s “really about being able to be flexible and learn from as many different resources as you possibly can.” 

Another featured entrepreneur, Adrena Bacon, shares another key skill for staying motivated as a business owner: finding silver linings in bad situations, which is a skill that she and her team used when adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bacon’s view is that conquering a challenge comes down to your perspective. She credits this attitude to watching her father succeed as a fearless entrepreneur. “He owned his own business, went to school and raised a family — instilling in his children a mentality of working hard toward the things you want in life,” Bacon states.

Bacon keeps her motivation high by reading and listening to motivational speakers, collaborating with colleagues and motivating herself and her employees to learn new skills and grow. 

10 top tips for women entrepreneurs.

  1. Create goals with your team and fight for them. If you need to change the plan, do so. Just don’t change the goal. When you reach your goal... Celebrate! (Guzman) 
  2. Asking for help and perspective is ok! Some of my greatest growth has come from learning from people that are better than me. (Guzman) 
  3. Be a risk taker — don’t worry, eventually your risks will be more calculated. (Wright) 
  4. Create a diverse team. Don’t hire people just like you! Hire team members that have skills and experiences that you don’t have. (Wright) 
  5. Make sure your team is all working toward the same vision and definition of success for your company. (Smith-Gallagher)
  6. Have a good support system in place, like your team, fellow small business owners, financial advisors and family. (Smith-Gallagher) 
  7. Plans can change in the blink of an eye — be flexible. (Jones) 
  8. Be confident! Even when you don’t feel like you have self-confidence, put yourself out there and good things will come. (Jones) 
  9. Write your goals down and review them daily — stick them on post-it notes on your bathroom mirror! (Bacon) 
  10. Listen to something positive before you start your day. (Bacon) 


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