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Show Notes:

Tony O’Brien has spent the past 39 years working with all sizes of business to assess their risks and help insure them. He has seen it all and has some great stories to tell to illustrate his points as well! In this episode, learn:

  • 3 areas where small business owners are most often blindsided, and how to avoid it
  • What factors impact your insurability
  • 3 ways to position your business for success, based on Tony’s observations over decades working with thousands of businesses
  • The “cut in half and take 10%” rule of forecasting the market share a startup business can take
  • 5 things to double-check right now to make sure you and your business are properly protected

And of course, you can visit to get a free quote on insurance based on all this new knowledge, and even purchase your insurance directly online today!

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Get a free chapter from Elaine’s book, Sell Your Passion:

This episode sponsored by TruShield Insurance, get a free and easy online quote to protect your business at

Announcer: 00:00

Welcome to Elaine's Kitchen Table. This is where we share tips about business and parenting. Being a mom of three CEO of the award winning company Easy Daysies, speaker and educator, you're going to learn the tips and secrets of successful and incredible people. Elaine wants you to be inspired, challenged and motivated and that person you want your kids to grow up to be. This is real talk for real life.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 00:25

Hey, welcome to Elaine's Kitchen Table where we talk about how to create better family, better health, better business and better self. Now many of you are just like me, a small business owner and entrepreneur. Some of you are a sole proprietorship or incorporated and some of you are consultants, home based businesses, some are product inventors. And what is similar about all of us is that we work really hard to build our businesses to where it is today and we need to protect what we have built. And this is why I'm so excited and honored to have my guest on today. Our guest is Tony O'Brien. He is the Vice President of Risk Solutions at Northbridge financial, and for over 30 years, he has been helping individuals and businesses protect themselves. And this is what I am just so excited for all of us to learn as he is going to share with us three ways to watch our backs and small business, as well as strategies for positioning our business for success. I am just thrilled and honored to have Tony O'Brien and here we go.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 01:38

Tony O'Brien, I am so honored to have you on my podcast Elaine's Kitchen Table, where we talk about how to create better, a better family, better business, better health and better self and I am just so honored to have you. Welcome.

Tony O'Brien: 01:56

My pleasure to be here with you right now. Absolutely.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 01:59

Tony, I know No, I just shared a little bit about you from your bio. But please fill in the blanks Tell, tell our listeners more about you right now.

Tony O'Brien: 02:09

Um, so I think most importantly, a great family, you know, great. My wife Leslie, we've got three great kids. And more importantly than three great kids is I have three grandchildren, which I gotta tell you raising grandchildren is a lot better than raising your own kids.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 02:31

I love that in your bio you said that you enjoy spoiling those three grandchildren and I think they're very lucky to have you.

Tony O'Brien: 02:38

Yeah, absolutely.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 02:40

How old are the grandkids?

Tony O'Brien: 02:42

So they are nine, six and two months. Oh, my. Yeah, we've got a we've got a new one edition. Actually our first granddaughter who's next name is Lennon. So my turns out my son, I didn't realize, I never knew this. He's a Beatles fan and yeah, and John Lennon so.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 03:05

Yeah. Wow. Well congratulations. Congrats. Thank you, Lennon and that is a beautiful name. I will say as I was a former school teacher and I taught for 14 years I've never ever ever once taught a Lennon. So beautiful and original. Now why I am just thrilled and honored to have you on our podcast is you represent the protector of small business and I am honored to say that my small business Easy Daysies has been protected by TruShield Insurance for over the last five years. And one thing that as Canadians I mean 150,000 new small businesses are formed every year. And I'm honored and so delighted that I came across this one stat that Canada is the home to over 950,000 self employed women. Wow, that is huge. That's one third of the self employed people in Canada. Yeah. And you know, we, we all work hard we work hard and we're learning as we go. And we don't always have eyes on around our back to see what's coming at us, or we don't even know sometimes something that's coming at us. And that's why I appreciate having a good partner and a good partnership with someone who could take care of that, because that's not my expertise. And so I'm honored to know you, Tony, and I'm honored for what you represent. And I know I could talk forever. So I want to ask you a question. Why do you do what you do, Tony?

Tony O'Brien: 04:46

Why do I do what I do? Great question. You know, I so I've been in the insurance business, believe it or not for 39 years. And yeah, you know what, it's been a great career, I've been exposed to so many different businesses and people, but with what we've done with TruShield, which was really a startup for our organization, you know, I'm part of a much bigger organization, you know, $2 billion, and all that good stuff. But with TruShield, what we've really focused on, is supporting Canadian entrepreneurs. That, you know, that's why we launched it. And while we love to sell people insurance policies, we really want to bring that educational component to the table, you know, especially for those people just starting out, you know, guiding them as to things that he should be thinking about when it comes to protecting their business. And, you know, I feel in previous roles I've had, I've dealt with, you know, multi million dollar accounts, and so it's such a unique swing to now, you know, I'm dealing with people who are doing less than $50,000 in revenue. But, you know, it's so rewarding to see these people and what they invest into their businesses.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 06:11

Thank you. And I believe that Canada and North America is built on small business. And I always try my best to support small business and my husband's in a small business, his family's in a small business, but it does make our community and I want to jump right in to ask you. There must be so many things in small business that we are unaware of as a small business owner that can blindside or come unexpectedly that we didn't even know about. And I could give my own examples of how many times I have been told Elaine you're too nice. Your gonna be taken advantage of and then it absolutely happens by that same person. I had no idea they were warning me. But I would love to ask you. There must be, if I could sum it up three ways for us to watch our back as a small business owner. What are three of those? Hey, Elaine, and the awesome small business owner who's listening right now? You need to know these three, there's probably a kazillion. But let's talk about three.

Tony O'Brien: 07:25

Yep. Okay. No, great question. Number one, I would say for a small business is be so careful with who you hire. Wow. Because as a small business, you know, when you've got a small team, and I know there's a lot of solopreneurs out there, but that you know, that first person you hire can be so critical to the success of your business. So you know, doing background checks, making sure they've got the education and the experience that they're telling you. You know do your homework, just don't don't take people for what they say they're worth on paper, because they're representing your company. And you know, as quickly as you can build up your company, having the wrong people can take it down.

Tony O'Brien: 08:12

Number two, it's kind of a new struggle we've seen with businesses is actually cyber. Wow, people do not, yeah, people really not protecting their business from as simple things is, you know, backing up their data or installing antivirus, you know, the software. Taking computers home, and you know, where all the information for the company is on one laptop, not realizing how easy it is for these hackers to go through, you know, other devices in the home, to access the information. So, really being careful from a technology perspective that they're protecting, you know, all the critical insights and customer information that they would have?

Elaine Tan Comeau: 09:05

And would duplication like, copying? Or is that separate than exposure of information?

Tony O'Brien: 09:13

Um, so back, it is different in backing up the information allows so, you know, if, let's say for your business tomorrow morning, you go in to log in and all sudden you get this flashing things, you know, you've been hacked. Well, if that's the only place for your, you know, your all your business information, you're in trouble whereas if you've got it backed up, you know, in the cloud or something else, then you're not as exposed because, you know, you're, especially if it's client information to, you know, you've got to be so, so careful.

Tony O'Brien: 09:49

And then, number three would be contractual arrangements. And, that's everything from, you know, if it's a business where a waiver may make sense. You know, telling people just don't go on google and type in a waiver and print out some generic form, you know, really invest in a lawyer, understand what your business is, and making sure it's specific to your business. Also, on the contractual side, you know, so many businesses now, when you look in the professional services side, you know, are entering into contracts with their customers. So making sure those contracts, you know, once again, are vetted by a lawyer that they're signed off of by a client because, you know, we see so many claims come in, because a customer says, the service didn't do what they said they were going to do. And they don't have anything in writing to substantiate.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 10:46

Yes, that is fruitful. And you know, I'm thinking of business small businesses and two different realms of product base and service based and I think all three of those must watch how to watch your back, on who you hire, on the cyber and on the contracts apply to both sides with product and with service based businesses. Now with let's just say if a contract is dealing with outside of your province or even with another country, do you need different insurance on that as well?

Tony O'Brien: 11:30

So you don't necessarily need different insurance. But you know, for Canadian businesses venturing outside of Canada with sales and services, they've got to be so so careful. Can I share a story with you?

Elaine Tan Comeau: 11:47

Oh, I love stories. Yes, please,

Tony O'Brien: 11:49

So, years ago, we had a program focused on travel agents. And one of our insureds was an agency based out of Winnipeg that basically sold group tours. Well, it was around the time of the Beijing Olympics. And a well off individual from Texas was looking to take a significant contingent of his family over. The best deal he found was through this travel agent in Winnipeg. He spent $250,000, flights, hotels, tickets to go to the Beijing Olympics. They get to the Olympics and go to the opening ceremonies. Turned out some of the tickets were fraudulent, not everybody could get in. Oh no. And that happened throughout the you know, the few weeks they were there, different events, other fraudulent tickets. So Mr. Well Off, Texan comes back and he sues our travel agent. So one thing we were well aware of was, if it's a claim made in the US, we have to defend it in the US. And everybody knows the US is so much more litigious than Canada. But you know, we were prepared for that.

Tony O'Brien: 13:17

What we didn't realize was there's some different guiding principles. And so we fought this claim, and it ended up basically going to court and the initial award was $2.5 million. Because it was deemed that when somebody purchases a product or service, there's a level of enjoyment that should be expected out of that. And if they don't receive that, there's a multiple of what they paid that they should receive. So our initial payout was two and a half million dollars. We ended up fighting it and eventually got it down to $750,000. But, you know, at the end of the day, you know, still on a premium that was probably in the $3,000 range. That's a big chunk of change to be paying out. It's so you know, knowing where you're doing business and what can go wrong. Even as for us as the insurer is so, so critical.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 14:27

That is a very scary story. I just am cringing on that one. And, you know, one thing I always share with women who are aspiring to create products and venture out is to start small and stay in your - start with a smaller radius, becoming successful in a small radius before you grow big and expand and are not prepared for the unexpected. And yes, and take your time to know your client or before you commit to a partnership, because I've been bitten before.

Tony O'Brien: 15:08

Yeah, no. And what you say is so true. Not only from a territory perspective, but what they're doing. And we, we so often get approached by small businesses who are doing multiple things, and they're not focused on any one. You know, we had a situation recently, somebody came to us, they were looking to open up a hair salon. And, you know, we said Yeah, no problem, we can help you out. And typically in a, in a hair business, we ask the question, do you provide any other services, thinking like manicures, pedicures, that type of thing? Well, this individual goes, Oh, yes, I do. I officiate weddings. So all of a sudden, it's like, Okay, well, that's a very different risk, not that it's extremely risky than cutting hair and so on. You get these curveballs thrown at you, that you got to figure out. And that's a simple one, like some people come to us with a shopping list of what they're doing. And it's like, okay, we were going to struggle to cover you here. So that focus for people I think is so, so important.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 16:18

I want to ask that question, then what impacts getting insurance? So, I know that I hear many different small businesses and small business ideas coming at me and people are asking, well, do I get insured for this or can they cover me? And I don't know. And I always say Google it but you are now my Mr. Google, Tony.

Tony O'Brien: 16:42

Yeah. So no, once again, another great question. The number one factor is what do you do? Okay, and, you know, and to give a real simple example of that, and this is a, you know, what I share when I'm talking to groups of entrepreneurs. You've got a plumber and an electrician, both doing the same revenue both in the same territory and both very experienced. Okay? And I like to challenge people saying, who do you think would pay more or would they both pay the same? And you know, people think electrician, electrical fire homes burning down people being killed, you know, versus oh so what you got some water in your basement. In actual fact, the plumber will pay three to four times what the electrician will pay because the frequency of water damage claims from not tightening the washer, etc, you know, far outweigh the rare catastrophe of an electrical fire. Wow. So that what you do is is huge, beyond that, where you're doing business so going back to my US story is very impactful. And then the revenues that a that a business generates will will influence how much they're going to pay. Other things that businesses need to think about. One of the ones I, I really like to stress to people is, if the business is dealing with vulnerable sectors, and when I say vulnerable sectors, we're talking children and senior citizens, because it's so sad to say, but, you know, abuse problems, you know, exist in the world and have for years. And so we're very, very careful when we're looking at businesses that are geared towards children. So it's also you know, some people come to us with some crazy ideas as to their business.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 18:49

I'd love to hear some! And of course, our listener's like that's me!

Tony O'Brien: 18:56

Yeah. One business that we were able to help. And this wasn't too crazy, was an individual who would help Canadian citizens who had heritage though from another country. So somebody you know, last name O'Brien? Oh, you must be, you know, have Irish descent? How would you know? And I'd like to get my Irish passport. And so this business actually helped people secure their passports in their native country, which I, which I thought was really good. And we were able to help out that individual. The one I couldn't help was I was doing a talk to a group of entrepreneurs. And I like to go around, say, oh, what are you doing? or What are you looking to do? And it was this younger fellow, and I go, so you know, what's, what are you looking to do? And he goes, I'm starting a cuddling business. And I said, Excuse me, and he said, cuddling like we're talking cuddling. He goes, yes, I said, Okay. I've never heard of this. And so he went on to say apparently, it's popular in other areas of the world, you know, and I said, so what's the premise here? He says, but you know, you go to work, you've had a bad day you go home, you're feeling a little down, you phone 1-800-cuddle, and they send somebody over.

Tony O'Brien: 20:19

And so I said, you know, I think it's a nice idea, but I said, you know, there's a real potential exposure here of somebody, you know, talking about abuse and all that. Yes. We weren't able to help Mr. Cuddle. But then, the other thing I like to stress to people is, you know, pretty much every business that launches now has a website. Yes. And what we tell them is, be honest with what your business is and what you're doing. Because so many people tend to embellish, you know, what they're doing. Or what they can do. We actually were approached by a business that was selling a product that was applied to the body. And which we were okay with. But the team said, you know, I'm going to take a look at their website. And on their website, they actually claimed their product helped cure a disease. I won't mention the disease in case, you know, somebody could relate back to where this was. And it was like, that is just, you know, obviously, if they could cure this disease, they would be zillionaires. And but there's no way that was happening. And so, you know, it was one of those things where we told them, we couldn't help them. But it just, you know, stresses that point of, you know, be very honest about your business. Don't embellish because it can come back to haunt you.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 21:57

Those are all very, very great and valid points and I know that having the proper insurance to protect you, the hard work that small business owners do daily is part of positioning your business for success. And I want to touch on that because I know that you having done this for what did you say 39 years, have seen a lot Tony. So if you could give us some points, even if it's three, I seem to like the number three. Because maybe my brain doesn't remember more than three. If you could give us three points on positioning a business for success, what would you say from all you have seen would be these are three you must remember?

Tony O'Brien: 22:52

Yeah. Um, so, for me, I'm going to come at it from maybe from a bit of a different angle here Elaine. I think number one is fail fast. You know, because you see it, and I know they're embellished. But you know, you watch the Shark Tanks and the Dragons' Dens of the world, and you hear these crazy numbers that people have dollars they poured into a business. You know, to me, it's so, so important that, you know, people if something isn't working, stop, because you can basically become bankrupt very, very quickly. You know, another point I like to raise with people, and this was something I was introduced to a couple years ago, is having a personal board of directors. And the whole concept there is, you know, who is that group of people, maybe two people, maybe five people, you don't want too many that you can go to and talk about your ideas and your plans, and get honest opinions, you know, from people to challenge you, because that's the one thing any business needs to do. They need to consistently challenge what are they doing is it working, what do they need to change? And the third one, I would say is, be realistic with numbers. Because so many people, you know, overestimate how successful they're going to be, you know, and that impacts how much they may invest in doing something to set up a business etc. And, you know, like people need to do their homework. They need to understand, okay, what's the market? What's the size of the market I'm going after here? Who are the other players? How are we going to differentiate myself from my competitors. It's almost like I like to tell people you know, so if you come up with your revenue goal, cut it in half and then take 10% of that and then that should be you know, your starting point because there's always there's always going to be surprises.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 25:19

That's a great visual I really appreciate that how you said that take that goal could have been half an then take 10% of that as realistic. Now I love all three I'm just gonna reiterate them because those three points are amazing. They are like those three points alone was worth talking to you, Tony. The fail fast, right? When it doesn't work, get out. Stop, stop right away, like don't drag in and lose more money. Having that personal Board of Directors. And we're not talking about your parents, or people who are your fans and say whatever you do is great. But no people who are just like, going to tell you the honest truth and say, yeah, that is not going to work. Where is the market? How will you get the money to do this? And why are you doing this? It can't just be because it's cute. And that last one of be realistic with the numbers. And what you were saying always made me think of, you know, you're you're writing a business plan because you want to know who that market is, what are the other players in the market and, and the pros and cons of, of all of it. So it's almost as if you have to create this business plan for every new venture within that business almost or how your business is changing and evolving.

Tony O'Brien: 26:53

Yeah, absolutely. And you know, when I talk about the numbers you know, when we first were launching TruShield. One of the key drivers for us was we took a look at the Canadian small business marketplace from an insurance perspective. And we estimated it was somewhere in the $6 to $7 billion range. And I am not going to share with you sort of what we thought, Oh geez, if we could get X percent, you know, that would be great. I will tell you, what we did think we were going to get we got, we've seen a fraction of it, and a big and what we found out after the fact was, people don't change their insurance provider very often. It's about 6% a year, you know, between 6% and 7%. And so all of a sudden, and that's not only ourselves going after those customers, there's all sorts of other insurance companies.

Tony O'Brien: 27:58

And where our success has come is actually with the first time buyers, like the majority of our, a significant percentage of our customers have never bought insurance before. They're not necessarily startups. You know, we get a lot of calls from people who've been up and running for years. And there's that moment in time, it may be a customer wants proof of insurance, or it may be they've now grown to a point where they're more concerned about protecting their liability. And so that's where we've seen our success. So, you know, if we were to turn back the clock it would have been a different game plan as to how we're approaching because we've now you know, we've adjusted how we're approaching the business. Absolutely. You know, if there's a fourth point, you got to be nimble, you got to be you know, okay, that's not working here. We're now going to do this, you know, it ties into the fail fast concept, but it's, you know, being able to pivot quickly is really, really important.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 29:02

Absolutely. And I and I want to touch on so going back to other examples or stories, I love your stories, Tony, of maybe some examples of how businesses didn't even know that that was going to be an issue. And here it is, as I'm sure you have seen so many interesting cases. And it could be anything because the I know that the person listening to us right now, maybe have a home office or they are home based business or they are that consultant who is a coach, a business coach, a life coach, or a product based business and I know you've seen it all, and I would love to hear something that we should be prepared for that we may not even know that it can happen.

Tony O'Brien: 30:02

So great, absolutely. So a couple things, I think that are important. Number one is the insurance business is a little strange in the sense of how we define businesses. And so and where what I'm talking about here is it used to be years ago, professionals were lawyers, doctors and accountants. Okay. And but what's happened over time is in the insurance world, our list of who's deemed to be a professional now is grown exponentially. And under professionals now is everything from home stagers, interior designers, photographers, you know, all the different consultants that are out there, web designers and the list goes on. Strangely, somebody like an electrician who needs to do 4000 hours of apprenticeship work, etc, isn't deemed to be a professional. So what's important for those businesses we deem as professionals, is that they're buying the right coverage. Because most businesses hear, oh, I need general liability coverage, you know, good old slip and fall insurance. Whereas, for these professionals, it's more important that they actually have professional liability. Having both is key. But you know, their biggest exposure is the professional liability. And go back to my travel agent claim out of Winnipeg, that was a professional liability claim you know, that happened there.

Tony O'Brien: 31:48

And another story wasn't an insured of ours, but it was a photographer, and this photographer was hired to do a wedding you know, they were experienced in doing weddings. They go they take the they go to the wedding, they take the pictures. A couple weeks later they go to see the happy couple. Surprisingly, still married after two weeks, but you know that's good. And they sit down and they go through all the proofs to so they could pick the final pictures. So they go through and it's Hey are you happy with the pictures? Yeah great pictures but where's the picture of the first kiss? And the photographer goes Oh, you know what sorry I missed that. You know there is so much going on. But you know, hopefully you're happy with the rest of the pictures. Well, they weren't happy. They were unhappy and they sued the photographer. Wow. And under that, under their, luckily, the photographer had professional liability coverage and they ended up paying out just under $7,000 in, in a claim back to the couple.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 33:07

Oh my goodness.

Tony O'Brien: 33:08

So, you know, I know $7,000 isn't a lot, but there's not a lot of people out there who just have an extra $7,000 sitting in the bank. So having that right coverage, you know, was key.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 33:22

Wow, that is unexpected that yes, I guess when people are not happy, sometimes they're really, really not happy and want some type of compensation.

Tony O'Brien: 33:33

Yeah. And then we can tie that back into you know, something I mentioned earlier about the contracts. Yes. Okay. What did the contract say? I will capture all key moments, you know, including, you know, cutting the cake the first kiss, etc. Or was it a little more general, um, you know, in you know, think about you know, web designers, the whole consultant, world like business coaches, you know, what are people saying in those contracts to protect them in the event somebody comes back and says, Hey, you know, I just lost my job because the advice you gave me didn't work out.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 34:17

Yes, that is very scary. And you know, I'm listening because I, I also do consulting on the side because I have so many people who asked me how do I create my product? What do I do next? How do I get into retailers? And all great questions. And so sometimes I do that on the side. Very rarely, but I do have a contract as well to cover that because they are just my opinions, my own experience. And it's different for everybody but I'm sharing what I have worked for myself. And that is just that, but yes that can be very scary. And you know, talking about the wedding, I remember when my husband and I got married and we met with our photographer. And he sat down saying, okay, you know, these are generally the pictures I take. Is there anything you want more of? So he was covering himself very well, for sure. He's like, do you want one with each of your moms and with the flower girls? Is there like, do you want to capture of the groom as the bride is walking down? Very specific. But yes, those are like, we wouldn't know. We didn't think of it because we've never been married before, but he knew some of those special moments. So yes, that first kiss. Yeah. Oh, I feel horrible for that poor photographer.

Tony O'Brien: 35:46

And we see claims, for example, interior designers, home stagers, you know, somebody paid to stage a home for sale. And you know, the home doesn't sell for the value that the people think they should have got for it you know. Next thing you know, it's hey, you didn't stage it properly, you didn't show it, you know? And it doesn't take much to stretch the imagination to see what can go wrong and people, it's not a secret people can be very unreasonable and their expectations sometimes are just unrealistic and what do they do? They end up suing people.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 36:25

Oh dear. Okay, let's move on to something that I know that some of us are shaking now. But these are true issues right and I am so honored Tony to have you on this podcast because you are just a wealth of knowledge and information and you have seen it all in those 39 years. And so if we can leave and our listener with I'm gonna say five things, five things that they need to double check right now to make sure that they should be covered for. And I'm thinking of a female entrepreneur who is working from home has a home based office, and whether she has a product or is a service based business, and maybe she has less than three staff, which I know that I can think of a dozen women right now on the top of my head. What are five things she must make sure that her insurance provider is covering for her? I'm putting you on the spot Tony!

Tony O'Brien: 37:36

Okay, so yeah, so first thing is, home based businesses. People need to understand, and we hear this all the time, that if you're home based, your homeowner's insurance isn't covering your business. There are extensions that all sorts of home insurers will provide, but it's very restricted coverage. So we strongly recommend that people purchase a commercial policy. So that's, that's number one. Number two is making sure you're purchasing the right coverage. And so and when I say right coverage, it's a combination of, you know, professional liability as an example for those for those types of businesses, as well as the limits that they're purchasing. And, you know, and an example of what where somebody may want to be thinking about a different limit of liability. You've got two people who have a home cleaning business that they run. Okay, one person's cleaning, you know, the 500 square foot condos. And the other ones cleaning, you know, the 5000 square foot mansions. The one doing the condos from a general liability perspective, you know, so in case they damage some property or something goes wrong. Yeah, they can probably get away with a one or $2 million limited liability. The one doing the mansions, they should have a higher limit of liability, because chances are if something goes wrong, okay, they're going to be sued for a lot more. Okay, so knowing your customer and what you're selling or providing as a service and getting the right limits there is key.

Tony O'Brien: 39:43

If you've got staff, you know, depending on what province you're in, making sure that you're registered with the you know, the Workers Compensation Board of the province yes because the commercial policies do not cover staff, okay? They don't, they only cover bodily injuries to third parties, not employees. And then I go back to the make sure that people that you hire are good because, you know, if they're out there and they're representing your business and they're the ones, you know, providing the service, if they're not fully qualified, it's going to come back against the business.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 40:29

Very true.

Tony O'Brien: 40:34

And then making sure you keep your policy updated, and especially businesses where there may be equipment involved. And so you know, you've got a, you know, a bakery that starts off with the low end oven etc. business takes off they want to upgrade. Making sure that that equipment, you know, is insured properly with the company is important.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 41:08

Absolutely. And even with the change in your partnerships, because I know that I took on one of the national retailers that I now have, and I had to increase my liability coverage. Okay. Yep, as well. Absolutely. And trade shows, trade shows you have to make sure you are updating and putting in that specific menu and trade show because they'll want to see a specific copy for that trade show.

Tony O'Brien: 41:37

Yeah, absolutely. Um, am Iat five yet or?

Elaine Tan Comeau: 41:41

You can talk forever because you're just so knowledgeable and I think I have three so if you want to throw in a few more.

Tony O'Brien: 41:51

I think the the other thing is just being a smart risk taker. You know, And I know we've talked about hiring people, we've talked about cyber, but, you know, just taking on business that fits within your area of expertise, you know, and that's more, you know, I would say, from the servicing bucket, you know, so businesses that are doing consulting, like don't don't take on a job that is outside your, your area of expertise or your capabilities. I think that's so important, so important.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 42:42

I agree. And it's okay to say no, because not every opportunity is your opportunity. And, don't be afraid to say no is what I often preach to women entrepreneurs, because they're like, but it's such a big opportunity. You know, if you're not ready, and if you can't handle it, it will come back. And it will leave a mark. Because it doesn't go away and I'm speaking from experience too, and I'm okay to say no to big retailers or certain retailers, and even people who say, Oh, I'd love to carry Easy Daysies and, you know, I've done my research on their stores, and I didn't see the fit. And I don't know how it's gonna work and I want it to be successful for them as well. And I have backed out of, and I've said no.

Tony O'Brien: 43:35

Yeah. And you see so many people are just desperate, you know, and they take they take on more than they can handle. Um, so you know, so important to be selective in how, you know, how they look to build their business.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 43:50

Oh, absolutely. I'm speaking from experience that I've done that unfortunately in the beginning where I was so excited to get these purchase orders, and I could not fulfill the order and it has left a mark on, it does not look good for that retailer to have empty shelves where I'm supposed to provide inventory. And that was one of my early in my first two years. And I have learned now do not go there unless I am ready to, to make sure I can fulfill all orders.

Tony O'Brien: 44:25

For sure. And one last thing I'd like to also mention is picking a physical location. You know, I know there's a lot of home based businesses, but you know, a lot of businesses still operate out of bricks and mortar, You know, just don't jump at the at the best deal out there. Like take the time, you know, is there foot traffic, if it's, that's available for your business? Who are the neighboring businesses, are they attracting businesses, or, you know, making businesses go away? You know, and so really thinking through where you're going to locate is key. It can in fact, impact your insurability. But more importantly, it can impact how successful your business may be.

Elaine Tan Comeau:: 45:13

And Tony so for, I can think of several right now businesses who have a brick and mortar location or are looking to expand and have a different location, an additional location, do you recommend that they should talk to their insurance company first about that next location? Is that something that happens or no?

Tony O'Brien: 45:39

Absolutely because it can impact the premium they pay. So you know better to know, they may be choosing between two locations and one because of construction and location is going to be cheaper than the other and so it may help help them make that call because we track all sorts of things now. Um, you know, obviously construction of a building impacts insurability but flood zones, for example, like the technology behind being able to track what area is more prone to a flood is unbelievable now. And you think of factors, hey, like we just went through in northeast Calgary with the hailstorm there. You know, there's, we know, there's certain areas in Alberta that are more prone to hail storms than others. There's some areas that are more prone to flooding than others. So that you know, it can have a significant impact. And it's, it's not only the thing to think about too, it's not only what you may save on insurance, but if all sudden there's a claim and you've got to shut down your business. You know, there's some scary stats on the number of businesses that experience a claim, even if it's insured that don't reopen.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 47:07

Oh, boy.

Tony O'Brien: 47:08

Yeah. So, you know, so the better you can protect that business from any claim that the more sustainable the business certainly can be.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 47:18

No, absolutely all incredible points and I am sure that our listeners are taking notes like I have been while we were talking. And, we will have a lot of that in our show notes as well. And Tony, while our listener is listening, if they wanted to reach out and contact you, or TruShield where should they go?

Tony O'Brien: 47:42

Yeah, so they can certainly easy way is to go to our website at and there's, you know, there's all sorts of information there. You know, it stays very current, like there's a lot of things insights on COVID, for example, right now about reopening a business and things businesses should be thinking about. We've got industry specific insights there as well. Depending on the type of business, we actually have a buy online capability. So where people actually don't even have to talk to an agent, they can get a quote, right online, if they want to buy, they can buy online and pay for it online. So a lot of good stuff on the website. And then, you know, if people want to reach out to you Elaine, I have no problem with you sharing, like my email address and in connecting so I'd be more than happy to speak to any of your followers.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 48:45

Thank you. I just want to say and reiterate what you just said Tony. The website for TruShield is incredible. It's so helpful, and is a amazing resource for any small business because as you said, there's touch points on every aspect that you might I even know about that you need to be covered or to be protected. And you know, and I keep saying that having you as my partner, TruShield as my partner. I feel that someone's watching my back for me and I'm very grateful for that. And so yes, and I know that we have a commercial that has been sharing how they can get a free quote, you can get a free quote. There is definitely no strings attached as you entering about your business. And what's amazing about TruShield is it tailor makes that insurance policy for your specific business. And so that it is helping you to be covered for what you need to be protected for. And so yes, it is and it'll take you straight to getting that free quote for your small business.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 49:59

Tony is I'm so honored that you were on this podcast with me today. And I just wanted to ask you two questions before we go. What's your favorite book that you can recommend for our, our listeners, because it's summertime and they might need a summer read. But I want to make it easy for you because a book or a movie.

Tony O'Brien: 50:22

A book or a movie, geez. So on the book side, I'm a sports fan. And so I love reading books about you know, athletes, particularly more particularly hockey. So, you know, and I've actually got a bunch I haven't read because people they know that they give them to me, so I've got a few still to read. Um, but you know, one of my favorites was a Bobby Orr book.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 50:50

My husband probably has that book!

Tony O'Brien: 50:53

And one that I've just recently been given I haven't read yet, is actually a type of book on Tiger Woods. So I'm kind of curious to hear what's in there, because I'm sure it'll be very, very interesting.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 51:05

I am sure I'm sure there'll be a lot about his father who was quite his role model. And, yeah, that will be definitely an interesting read. My second question, then that I'm going to leave with is my podcast is all about how to create better. And I would love your tip on how to create better family and I know we talked about business. I just want to hear your tip. As, how long have you been married first of all I just want to ask that. I'm putting you on the spot!

Tony O'Brien: 51:41

A long time, we've been together 35 years.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 51:46

That is beautiful. Congratulations. Okay. And you have three children, three beautiful grandchildren. And one very new two month old. Your one tip for how to create better family.

Tony O'Brien: 52:03

Taking family time, you know, is so important. And, you know, I think back Elaine it was when our kids were really really young. And I remember coming home from work one day and Hey Dad you know, can you play this game with me? No, I'm pretty tired. And then it was like, What are you saying here? Like no that's, it's like yeah for sure let me get changed. And that's it. I don't know it was it was a turning point for me in being a parent and ever since then it's it's been something I've been very, very conscious of. And you know, and as I said earlier, you know, it's great with the grandkids, being able to do stuff with them and do it all over and at the end of the day, being able to say OK go home now.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 52:52

I love it. I love it. And I love it and I I so appreciate that reminder of Hey, if our children say can you read with me or can you please play a game with me? Or go for a bike ride with me? And you know, because they will stop asking. So when they do ask, that's an excellent reminder Tony, thank you for saying, I want to say I'm tired. I want to say I just want to lie down. Yeah. Okay. And let's do that. And, you know, most recently I've been invited to speak on stages to talk about how to create better health and focus and because I've recently become a spokesperson for Heart and Stroke Foundation, because I had a stroke two years ago. And often I share that we need to learn to master the art of single tasking. Because we are in such a multitasking world where it is very glorified to be that multitasker juggling all sorts of things. But our children, our spouse, they won't remember those multitasking moments, but they will remember the times when we single tasked with them. Playing a game with them whether it's just cuddling on the couch watching a trilogy. Those are the moments, right?

Tony O'Brien: 54:09

Yeah, it doesn't take much.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 54:11

Thank you. Thank you at all my heart for that last and beautiful tip of remembering of family time. And Tony, I just have full gratitude for you and for taking this time and I want to say to our listeners, I'm so honored that this is Tony's first ever podcast. So I'm like trioply honored here. And I just want to say thank you again, Tony. And to our listeners. Thank you. Thank you so much for listening and joining us. I know as a small business owner that I learnt and got reminded of many key things that I need to protect my small businesses with and so thank you again, Tony for that.

Tony O'Brien: 54:55

Yeah. Hey, thank you, Elaine. It's always a pleasure speaking with you.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 55:00

We just want to say, I'd be honored if you could take a moment. And if you wanted to leave a review on iTunes, that would be awesome too. Or, if you want to reach out to me on Twitter or on Instagram, I'd be happy to, to hear what you have to say. And if you have any questions like Tony said, either Tony or I would be happy to answer those questions. So thank you again and have a most wonderful, fabulous day everyone. Bye for now.

Tony O'Brien: 55:29

Thanks Elaine.