Posted: Mon 19th Dec 2011
AXA Business Insurance is a big supporter of Enterprise Nation and the small businesses that read our blog and come to our events. Here, small business insurance expert Sarah Clements of Axa explains seven things the company learnt about small businesses while researching and building its new website this year. Well what a year that was! We started off this year with one task in mind: to launch a website for small business insurance that recognised what a modern small business is like (outsourcing to other companies, working from home, having a small number of employees and so on). Although we are part of AXA,Â we feel like a small business, too - part of a small team,Â huge deadlines, masses to do andÂ the need to roll up our sleeves and get involved in whatever needs to be done next. The first part of the year was spent researching small businesses and what they want from an insurance company. What an interesting group you are! Although the small business population couldn't be more diverse in terms of demographic characteristics, there is a shared set of characteristics that run through the DNA of small businesses: 1. Creative with plenty of imagination - either reflected in the type of small business you run or the way in which you develop your business and make it grow.Â Â This presented us with lots of challenges when it came to designing the occupation list as a lot of you don't fit neatly into a standard definition and that's why we've ended up with a standard list of occupations to choose from or a selection of activities to describe the types of things you do. 2. Perseverance - when people say no you carry on looking for another way to get round the obstacle to get what you want and need.Â Â We could see this when we watched people in usability groups wresting with long complicated forms online which made us determined to make our quote application as easy and clear as possible. 3. Considered and careful - when it comes to your business, you take it very seriously. It doesn't mean you don't enjoy some fun,Â but when you are doing something like protecting your business you are in a focused,Â practical mindset. Therefore, you told us in no uncertain terms you don't like anything frivolous or terrible puns -Â so no 'cut above' type commentsÂ for hairdressers. 4. Fair - you want the very best deal you can get for your business but you don't want 'cheap' because you want products of good quality and you realise that if you take all the profit out of a deal you don't always end up with what you need. 5. Generous - small businesses are natural networkers - it can be a lonely place setting up and running a small business. You are keen to meet and support each other. We could see this from the interest in networking, sharing best practice and meeting other reputable businesses, so we will look to build on this ambition for our customers next year. 6. Pride in what you do - you were excited and proud to show us your products, websites and to tell us about your business and new products you were working on. We recognise that feeling. As our website finally went live on 7 December the excitement in our team was huge.Â There's an immense satisfaction in seeing something that has existed in your mind's eye for a year finally live and working in front of you. **7. Busy busy busy.**Â We know business insurance isn't top of your agenda so we've tried to make the process as easy and straightforward as possible while still reassuring you that you've bought exactly the right cover for your business, only paid for what you need and paid for nothing twice. Therefore our ambition has been to create modular products with opt-in and opt-out features so you can be sure you are just buying exactly what your business needs. Thanks for your help and generosity in getting us up and running - you have participated in online forums, group research and tested our website for us, so thank you: we couldn't have done it without you. We're already onto our plans for next year - more new products and exciting developments to come.Â We'll keep you posted but in the meantime have a very happy Christmas and here's to a successful and prosperous new year.
Photo credit: Kevin Collins