If we are very fortunate, we can mesh our strengths and talents with our purpose and what we love to do. William Bitters is a great example of just that. William decided to join the Air Force for obvious reasons…wanting to be a pilot is extremely cool, and the Air Force is known for their advocacy to family and education. During his tenure, he was in ATC (Air Traffic Control) and radar and is a Vietnam Veteran. After the war, William found his way into the insurance and investments field through a friend while still in college. Once he realized how many people he could genuinely impact in the field, he was hooked.
It is William’s love for educating others on how to plan for a tax-free retirement that forged his journey that has extended more than forty years. Sharing his knowledge through education and planning is what motivates him to this day. William believes everyone should have access to proper planning without the risk of relying on the market. As traditional retirement plans become more outdated, he continues to educate himself on all the options available for his clients.
As with most of us, he isn’t all work and no play although he professes himself to be a bit of a workaholic. However, in his free time, William enjoys playing golf and reading. He also loves to spend quality time with his family, including his two daughters and five grandchildren. His hobbies are anything automobile related and loves technology and is always interested in its growth and efficiencies.
How did you get started in this business and what inspired you to start this business?
When I was in college, I wanted to be an attorney. However, as fate would have it, I met a friend who was involved in retirement planning. He asked me to shadow him in several appointments and I saw first hand the impact that his solutions made for his clients, and I was hooked.
How do you make money?
I make money by educating people. The company pays me a commission for getting clients to put their money with the company. The companies I represent are all A+ rated and are over 100 years old. I want to represent companies that have stood the test of time because the clients want to know that their money is with an honorable and trusted company.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
I would say within four to five years I became profitable. I really believe the reason I became profitable was because I am strategic and I am a planner. If you don’t seek out to understand the instruments available for success, you can’t educate others about them. I still take classes to this day because I believe in continuing education. I want people to know that they can trust my guidance and that I have the experience and education behind it.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I remember a moment after I left my first company, when I was wondering if this was still the right path for me. I believe we all can relate to a time when things are harder than we believe they should be. We get more ‘no’s’ than yes’s and we question our path. I was growing impatient. But then I read a book by W Clements Stone called Positive Mental Attitude. His theories even at the time were held in high regard, but I felt those words were written for me. I looked at where I was and how I was approaching things and decided I needed a change. That is when I really kicked the education into high gear. As soon as I changed my thinking, I became more successful. I think if I hadn’t read that book, I may not have stuck with it.
How did you get your first customer?
I was in a little town called Webster City, Iowa. I walked into a bank and met with the bank president. I showed him a little contract, an insurance policy that didn’t cost a lot of money. I told him that this will pay you if you can’t come to work. It’ll pay if you pass away. If you live, and you go ten years, it’ll give you back your money. After I signed him up, I asked if he would mind if I talked to his employees as well. He had me sit in an office and speak with them one on one.
What is one marketing strategy, other than referrals, that works really well to generate new business?
I can’t emphasize enough how much I work off referrals. Trust is like an unobstructed river that flows from one appreciative client to family or friends and it is an invaluable force. However, radio, television and direct mail can be strong visual presentations that allow people to form questions about their own circumstances.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Although I can’t be specific due to confidentiality, my job is the toughest when I can’t execute what is best for my client because of circumstances beyond our control. Like a physician needs complete and accurate information from their patients in order to properly heal, I need the same thing even when it is hard or embarrassing. We all have had things happen and there is no shame in where we’ve been. Moving forward takes strength and courage and trust so that we can move together.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I listen to my clients. I welcome them to tell me their story. The people that they love and want to protect, their hopes, dreams and fears are woven into their lives and with my guidance I have been in this industry long enough to see how planning with effective execution has made a difference in their lives. I have witnessed their abilities to go on vacations, send children to school, buy homes and automobiles and be able to sleep with less financial stress and worry. Their success is my success.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Without question, I am most satisfied when I get that call or an email or even a text message from a client after they’ve opened their mail and they have seen the growth in their financial wellness. They can track an upward trajectory and they thank me for the role that I have played. In a world where we are early to criticize and late to compliment, it means a great deal to me that they take the time to give me positive feedback.
What does the future hold for your business and what are you most excited about?
I am excited for change, mainly in tax reforms. I feel like those in lower tax brackets have not really been able to enjoy the benefits of recent tax reforms and I am hopeful that will change soon.
What business books have inspired you?
Besides “Positive Mental Attitude,” I have really enjoyed several books written by Patrick Kelly, including “Tax Free Retirement,” “The Retirement Miracle,” “Stress-Free Retirement,” and “The 5 Retirement Myths.” I also have enjoyed “Wealth Beyond Wall Street” by Brett Kitchen and Ethan Kapp. I also listen to a lot of positive audio and watch documentaries on people who have started from nothing and willing to share their stories.
What is a recent purchase you have made that has helped with your business?
A software program that compares taxable instruments such as IRA’s to tax-free instruments.