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Advice / Career Paths / Career Change

How This Insurance Agent Stopped Working Two Jobs and Became Her Own Boss

Alexandra Rivera, a Farmers Insurance agency owner
Alexandra Rivera, a Farmers Insurance agency owner.
| Courtesy of Farmers Insurance

College wasn’t in the cards for Alexandra Rivera due to financial constraints, and when the first-generation Mexican-American found herself juggling jobs at Starbucks and McDonald’s, she realized she needed to take the future into her own hands.

“I was living paycheck to paycheck with irregular hours,” she says, “and I decided to look for a different path. One weekend, I was researching office jobs that didn’t require a degree or experience, and insurance popped up as a top result.”

This online search would change the course of Rivera’s career and life. She went on to apply for an administrative position at a Farmers Insurance® district office. The district manager, an independent contractor, offered to cover licensing costs and provided an hourly wage. But, perhaps most importantly, there was real opportunity to grow.

Flash forward just five years, and Rivera is now the owner of her very own agency. This achievement was made possible by the Farmers® Protégé Agency Producer program, which is designed to provide individuals an opportunity to enhance their skills and business knowledge to become a Farmers agency owner while working for an existing Farmers agency.

“The program gave me the opportunity to do what I was already doing—sell insurance—but also learn how to run a business,” she says.

Here, Rivera shares how Farmers’ support has helped her grow her career. She also discusses the best part about being her own boss and why she wakes up every day at 5 a.m.

How did you know Farmers would be a good fit, especially as someone with no prior insurance experience?

I’d done some research before diving in, and what really struck me about Farmers was their commitment to training. It was clear that they were focused on helping their agents succeed, especially those like me with no prior insurance experience.

When I first met with a district manager, they emphasized the incredible Farmers’ support system. They talked about University of Farmers® resources, and shared that I would have access to the territory team, district office, and various field representatives. All this gave me a sense of security. I knew that if I needed help or guidance along the way, it was readily available. It’s like having a safety net as you’re learning the ropes, and that assurance made Farmers feel like the perfect fit for someone like me.

How has Farmers supported your career growth?

Farmers never once told me that I couldn’t achieve something. In fact, they made sure to emphasize that I had many career paths to explore. Whenever I expressed an interest in learning something new, Farmers didn’t just leave me hanging. They’d promptly point me in the right direction, telling me exactly who to talk to or where to find more information. This support and encouragement have been truly invaluable, and it’s a huge part of why I’ve been able to grow my career.

Tell us about the Protégé Agency Producer program. How did it help you prepare to run your own business?

For me, the program was about gaining a deep understanding of how a business operates. I had an amazing mentor who stressed that to run a successful agency, I’d need to shift from being the primary seller to overseeing the business operations.

The most valuable lesson I learned in the program is the importance of delegation and hiring the right people to handle sales so I could focus on managing and growing the business. I always have an eye out for people I’d like to hire for the agency.

How does Farmers continue to support you as a business owner?

The training doesn’t stop after graduating from the Protégé Agency Producer program; it’s a continuous process. One of my favorites is the ongoing trainings available through the University of Farmers online. It’s a treasure trove of resources and knowledge that I can tap into whenever I need it. Farmers also keeps us updated on industry trends and best practices, which is invaluable in the ever-changing world of insurance. I’ve made it a habit to take full advantage of these resources to ensure my agency stays ahead of the curve.

What do you love most about being your own boss? What are the biggest challenges?

Being your own boss is a real adventure, and I love the freedom it brings. Making my own decisions and setting my own path is definitely the best part. Plus, I get to shape the work environment to suit my team and me. It’s a stark contrast to worrying about having “enough hours” or the next round of layoffs in previous jobs.

The biggest challenge is holding myself accountable. When it comes to those tough decisions, there’s no one else to lean on. It can be quite overwhelming at times, especially when you realize the buck stops with you. It’s the price of independence, and the balance between freedom and responsibility can be a real juggling act.

What is one misconception about the insurance industry and how would you respond to it?

One common misconception about the insurance industry is that it’s all about denying claims and making it difficult for policyholders to get the coverage they need. I’d respond to this by highlighting the countless stories of Farmers Insurance stepping up to help people during disasters, accidents, or emergencies. Whether it’s assisting with claims after a natural disaster or providing financial support during a medical crisis, insurance is there to offer peace of mind.

What advice do you have for those who are interested in becoming their own boss and opening a Farmers Insurance agency one day?

If you’re starting without prior experience, work closely with a district manager to help you find a fantastic mentor agent. Having a mentor can be a game-changer. They’ll guide you on how to sell insurance effectively, what the business entails, and how to manage it successfully.

Learning from someone who’s been there and done that is invaluable. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions, seek advice, and soak up their knowledge. It can fast-track your journey to becoming a successful agency owner.

How do you maintain work-life balance? What do you like to do for fun?

As an agency owner, I can maintain work-life balance because I have the autonomy to choose my own schedule rather than having it dictated by someone else, so I am able to do the things I enjoy.

I’m an early bird, so every day at 5 a.m. I dedicate an hour to myself, hopping on my Peloton bike. During that time, I have a strict rule: no work until my self-care is complete. It’s a great way to kickstart the day with some “me” time. I also really enjoy soccer, so I coach for a local youth league and play every Sunday in an adult league.