Jackie Hyde is the Owner and Managing Director of Stanmore Insurance and dot2dot nursery insurance. Over thirty years ago, Jackie was working as an Insurance Underwriter with a large corporation. Then she started a family and subsequently returned to work but didn’t feel valued as a working mum. She applied for and won a post as an account handler at Stanmore Insurance Brokers and worked her way up to become the sole owner. All this despite many trials down the years, including beating breast cancer and being the sole carer for her elderly father and dealing successfully with several business crises. Here she shares her story.
Can you tell us a little about your background and Stanmore Insurance?
I left school in 1981 immediately after completing my exams and was originally heading off to college but decided an academic route just wasn’t for me. I had never really enjoyed school and so I started applying for jobs with banks, building societies etc and an opportunity arose to work at Commercial Union Assurance Company Ltd, which is now part of Aviva plc.
I’d never had any dreams or major career expectations, I wanted to earn some money and being married with a family was what I wanted from life. This came relatively soon in my life when I married in 1984 and my daughter arrived in 1987.
Due to financial circumstances I returned to Commercial Union following six months of maternity leave into a full time position. Shortly after returning to work, it came apparent that a working mum wasn’t really a priority for any form of promotion, so although I wasn’t particularly career-minded I decided to seek alternative employment options.
A role at Stanmore Insurance Brokers Ltd was advertised in my hometown and I thought this would help me spend more time with my daughter as the commute would be less. What I didn’t expect was that the gentleman who ran the business would have such a passion for what the business offered. After the third attempt, I secured the post and have never looked back.
The love to provide quality customer service became part of my DNA. I worked my way up to become a manager and in 2000 became a Director. In 2001, I remortgaged my house and bought 26% of the company. I’m now the sole owner and the number of staff has grown from five when I started, to currently employing 25 and recruiting for a few more.
How did the idea come to you for Stanmore?
Although I wasn’t the Founder of Stanmore, I am the Founder of dot2dot nursery insurance, which is a specialist scheme for children’s day nurseries. The business celebrates its 20th birthday this year.
The idea came about when we were planning to sell somebody else’s insurance product seven years early. We didn’t insure a single nursery, but there were plenty such businesses around us. We quickly secured a number of clients but in 2003 I decided the insurance product we were offering could be better and decided to launch our own.
Our clients are extremely loyal and we have been growing at a rate of over 20% for the last few years. We have a dedicated selection of Strategic Partners that help us deliver a top level of service to our nursery clients.
We haven’t looked back and the scheme has grown from our clients originally paying £100,000 in Gross Written Premiums to the current premiums being £5.3 million.
How did you achieve awareness of Stanmore?
We are unusual in the insurance broking industry to work very hard on our brand awareness. In respect of the development of dot2dot, we started with attending exhibitions dressed in jeans and teddy bear t-shirts, giving away stickers and making ourselves easily approachable.
In respect of Stanmore Insurance Brokers, being part of the Bolton community is very important to us. We support a lot of local charities, sponsor events and are even associated sponsors for our local football team Bolton Wanderers. It is all about being present and showing you care about what you do for your clients.
I also believe that as the head of the business I should be investing my time to help my town, so I am on the University of Bolton’s Industry Advisory Board. I’ve also been asked to be on the Town Fund Board and I spend time helping women and young girls to develop themselves and their businesses, which I’m very passionate about. I’m now starting to mentor a few individuals as it is time to give back, like many who supported me during my career.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
Along with the events and marketing detailed above, the other important area is to develop a very strong focused team. If you look after your colleagues they in turn will look after your clients.
There have been a few occasions when we have had to borrow funds from the bank for me to purchase additional shares in the company to buy out partners. We have had to have good financial numbers so they were willing to support our future plans.
What are the key successes?
Resilience, as you can’t run a business without it. I’ve had lots of challenges during my career including being diagnosed with cancer and being a carer for my elderly father for three years following my mum passing away unexpectedly.
It’s important for me to be authentic and not be scared to show my vulnerability as it is amazing how people will help you if you ask. This has resulted in some tremendous peers.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
There are many challenges in business on a daily basis, but probably my business partner having a major accident resulting in him needing to leave the business alongside being diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time was very hard. It was amazing how everyone just surrounded me with their care. They gave me the strength to carry on and I overcame both issues but it took its toll for a while.
The next biggest challenge was caring for my dad for three years alongside running a business. My dad had lots of needs but being the owner enabled me to be flexible with when I worked and when I needed to be with him. The resilience certainly played its part.
What are your plans now/for the future?
The business has lots of opportunities to continue to grow and I’m always ready for the next target. Developing a great team is my main focus alongside making the business as efficient as it can possibly be.
I’ve got a lot of talented people that work alongside me, so I need to ensure they all reach their full potential and hopefully I can start to ease off a little bit, but to be honest that isn’t really in my nature.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Take the risks – the rewards are worth it for you and the people that work with you. Be brave. Don’t be scared to say you don’t know and then go away and find the answers. Do what you love and play to everyone’s strengths.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Don’t be scared to think outside the box. Share ideas and be willing to keep adapting to find the very best solution. Ask your customers what they want and then go and find the solutions.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
My dad, he had lots of challenges but never gave up.
My team, I want to do the best for them.
I’ve had some excellent business coaches who have inspired me to do better.
Richard Branson – I love his story.
Other business friends who I’ve shared challenges with and we’ve worked together to find the answers.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” – Oscar Wilde
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen” – Brene Brown
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
The Successful Founder Magazine is the go to feature-rich magazine for founders on all stages of their entrepreneurship journey .