Certain attributes tend to be abundant with entrepreneurs: creativity, boldness, dogged determination. A gift for navigating more practical matters — like, say insurance needs — feels a little more rare.
It was in that space between entrepreneurial daring and practical business needs that West End Insurance founder Andrew Sherrod found his calling.
He launched his Nashville-based insurance company with a welcoming philosophy: “to uncomplicate insurance by helping you understand your best options so that you confidently move forward in life.” And when you’re juggling all the moving pieces that come along with starting a business, anything that can be actively uncomplicated is welcome.
That’s all led West End to a stable of clients that includes jewelry designers, candlemakers, coffee roasters and lots of other self-starters.
Entrepreneurs aren’t the only folks Sherrod serves at West End — if you’re about to matriculate and need car insurance, or you’re about to buy your first home, he’s your guy too. But the longtime Skillery member’s knack for making the landscape of insurance approachable to small businesspeople is something special, and something we really value in The Skillery’s community of small businesspeople.
With that in mind, we picked his brain a little bit, to give some insight into his approach to the insurance business, and in a broader sense, to highlight his own experiences as an entrepreneur, in hopes that they might shed some light on yours.
A chat with Andrew Sherrod of Nashville’s West End Insurance
The Skillery: What made you decide that you wanted to lead your own agency, and not join an established one?
Andrew Sherrod: “I wanted to know my customers and the long-term freedom that comes with owning and growing your own book of business. You can become invested in people's lives through many milestones. While the first few years of starting up — and I'm not out of it yet — can be difficult and stressful, it is short-term pain for long-term freedom. And that is a trade I'm happy to make.
You focus on making insurance approachable to people who maybe aren’t especially wired for it — young people, creative entrepreneurs, etc. What led you to seeing that need?
“Before insurance, my background was in academics and I feel like I have always been drawn to teaching. I think part of my desire to make insurance approachable is the personal enjoyment I receive when I am to be there when someone understands a new topic or skill for the first time.
“Many entrepreneurs are in this exact spot. They are talented and savvy, but it might be their first encounter with liability insurance, for example. They just need someone to listen, answer their questions and help them walk through it. I enjoy that.”
You made a specific decision not to open a brick-and-mortar office location (operating instead out of The Skillery), which seems relatively uncommon in your industry. Did you feel any pressure to kind of conform to industry standards?
“It is relatively uncommon, though I hear of more and more agents either doing it or considering it. As for pressure, I do feel some pressure to conform but not from clients. Rather, it is the insurance companies, or those related, that have a harder time with the fact that I do not have a brick and mortar.
“The benefits though — a more casual environment, entrepreneur collaboration, affordability — far outweigh the cons. Additionally, I feel like coworking spaces can be welcoming for clients.”
You have a lot of fellow-entrepreneur clients. Do you find that you learn about your own business by being around/talking with a lot of other entrepreneurs?
“I am always amazed at the creativity, both traditionally and in a business sense, of my entrepreneur clients. They push me to continue to think through my own business model, marketing campaigns and customer service protocols. I recently completed the Nashville Business Chamber's Scale Up program, which allows entrepreneurs to apply for a 16-week SBA-funded program. The talent in the program was especially strong and helped me understand that the Nashville entrepreneur community is really there to support one another.”
Big thanks to Andrew for the chat, and for sharing his insurance/entrepreneurial wisdom.
Have some matters of insurance that need tending to? Here’s how to reach Andrew Sherrod and West End Insurance:
Thinking about joining Andrew in the Skillery community? We'd love to show you around our Nashville coworking space. Drop us a line!