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How This Entrepreneur Used Credit Cards to Grow Her Business

Contributor at StartupNation is on a mission to materially decrease the small business death rate through education and data. Our platform provides free access to business and personal credit reports, tools to understand and build business credit, and a marketplace that matches users to financing options that are the best fit for their needs.

Lorena Tomasini, together with her mother, owns MALM Life and Health Insurance Agency, a business based in Miami. Tomasini works with families and small business owners, helping them navigate life and health insurance.

“We’re brokers that represent different insurance companies. Depending on what the clients are looking for, we find the best fit for them,” she said.

Starting out

Why did you start the business?

I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration. I majored in finance. At the time, I thought I wanted to be in the stock market. But, then the stock market crashed in 2008. My mom was already doing insurance and I worked with her, setting her appointments. Then, I got my license. I worked for a few years independently with different companies. We started the business in 2011 to make everything easier for taxes.

How did you fund the business at the start?

I used personal savings that I had from previous jobs and doing insurance.

Running the business

How do you manage cash flow?

It’s a service business, so I depend on sales. It’s not a typical 9 to 5 job. One of the things we do to manage cash flow is use a credit card for our utility bills and tax bills to give us a little bit of time to pay things. And we always save part of our income.

What’s the most challenging thing about running the company?

Like many entrepreneurs, we wear a lot of hats. We have to know a little bit about everything. The hardest part is finding new business and new people to talk to. Marketing is the biggest challenge.

What’s the most rewarding thing about running the company?

I really enjoy what I do. I think it’s important for anybody to find something that they like doing. I get to help people. With things like life insurance, people always have a whole bunch of questions, there’s a lot of confusion about which type they should get. I really like being able to explain that to people and help them plan their financial future.

I also like that I’m in control of my time. If I need to leave the office and go do something, I can.

What I’ve learned

What’s the biggest mistake you made when starting out?

In the very beginning, one of the mistakes we made was buying leads. In this business, you depend on seeing enough people (to keep business afloat). I remember spending a lot of money on that and the return on investment wasn’t worth it, because the people weren’t qualified or they really weren’t that interested.

What’s the smartest thing you did when you were starting out?

One of the things that I’m good at doing is following up and asking people for referrals.

What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?

Be ready to work a lot more than your typical 40 hours, especially at the beginning while you’re getting things up and running. Always be willing to learn new methods or new things to help you move along, because change is inevitable, no matter what you do.

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Future plans

What’s next for MALM Life and Health Insurance Agency?

One of our biggest transitions is to do everything digitally. We’re working on transferring everything to digital in the next year. We’re in year 8 of the business right now, and we’re looking forward to hitting the 10-year mark soon!

Article originally published on by Ashley Sweren

Feature image courtesy of Lorena Tomasini

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