The Marshmallow Shooter

October 05, 2011

The benefit of being a unique small business Like many of you, travel in my job is a necessity. For me it’s largely short-hops between our Headquarters in New York City and our service center in Virginia Beach, VA.  I hate to spend too much time in a sterile corporate HQ, when our Virginia Beach office is the center of our customer universe – and that’s where the action is. Despite the flight being just an hour, getting there or back usually turns into some form of drama with flight delays and cancellations being the norm rather than the exception. Even on day trips I’ve learned to pack a toothbrush and fresh underwear, just incase! Personal inconvenience aside, over the years I’ve learned to fill my bag with the right work so that in the event of a delay I can use the time usefully. Sometimes the gift of time is a Godsend, just to clear that outstanding pile of reading material.  Occasionally though, the delay is so long that when I finally get on the plane the capacity of my brain to take on anymore work that day is next to zero. It’s then I slip into that dangerous territory of reaching for the Sky Mall magazine.

I like to play a game, which hinges around finding the product in the magazine that, in my humble opinion, probably has a market size of one because it’s so unique.  On today’s flight I had difficulty choosing between two items – the pump-action marshmallow shooter or the dress-up squirrel magnets. Reflecting on today’s flight I realized that the Sky Mall magazine, love it or hate it, has distinct parallels with the professional services segments that Hiscox provides small business insurance to. Firstly, despite the core of our clients being labelled as technology firms, management consultants or marketing companies, these broad labels are often misleading. When we speak to each client it becomes clear very quickly that each of them has something unique about their business – because they’ve taken a skill, passion or connection that is individual to them and turned it into a service they provide to others. Secondly, there’s the weird and the wonderful. The equivalent of the pump-action marshmallow shooter. In our case, in addition to the majority of mainstream businesses we insure, we also provide coverage to businesses ranging from horse whisperers to plant therapists. We always enjoy listening to the detail of these businesses so that we can craft coverage for their specific needs. What I love about working here is that subjects like professional liability insurance may not be the most interesting topic on planet earth, but the rich diversity of professional services businesses we get to serve and that overriding buzz of entrepreneurial culture makes life interesting and exciting. This month we launched My Start Up Story, where we’re asking businesses to tell their story and get the chance to win $10,000 in the process. It can be found at I look forward to you telling us your unique story. Kevin Kerridge Small Business Insurance Expert Hiscox