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January 14, 2020


2 min read

Topic: Growth Agent Insight Video Insurance Agency Management strategy Start an Agency Grow an Agency

I have talked to business owners a lot about this term EBITDA, and they look at me with a puzzled look. They've either not heard it before, or they don’t know what it means. EBITDA is an acronym. It stands for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

Growth Agent Insight - EBITDA from OAA on Vimeo.

What is EBITDA?

When you’re comparing your business against another business, you want to compare your EBITDA rather than your profits against theirs or the benchmark. The reason is that every business has a different taxation level. Some have depreciation, or amortization, or both.  Others have loans in which they pay interest.  All of those things distort the bottom line. So, we remove all those things, interest, depreciation, taxes, and amortization, to look at the true picture of business profitability.

When we run financial statements for our business, we run them and we look at the profit, the net income of the business. Then the line after that is EBITDA. We look at it every month and every year.

Very frequently, when you begin in business, you don’t make a profit for a while, this is something I call the “flywheel effect.”  My observation is most businesses may have cash flow in the first two or three years of their life, but they don’t have true profits. That’s something you build over time.

Set Your Goals for EBITDA

You want to have a goal, not just for net income, but EBITDA.  Because again, as you grow your business, you’re going to have more depreciation or amortization.  Perhaps you’ll borrow money as you go.  It’s important from the very beginning, to use this measure because it’s the thing that will tell you from the first day to the last of your business, how you’ve done and how you can compare yourself against prior performance.

We compare ourselves and every business that I own against other businesses that are similarly situated in our part of the country and roughly our same size. Those benchmarks, if you will help us to know how we’re doing against our peers. Benchmarking is wonderful because frequently you can see, are you trying to make a lot more profit or EBITDA, or are you trying to grow faster?  You can’t make as much profit, or EBITDA, when you’re growing rapidly as you do when you’re focused on just the bottom line. So, it’s important to know what your business goals are, and then compare yourself against your performance in the past, your goals for the future, as well as other people in your industry.

Tony Caldwell is a modern “renaissance man,” who is not only immensely successful in the field of insurance, but is also a writer, children’s advocate, mentor and even a licensed pilot.

Always keen on helping others make their dreams come true, Tony and his team have helped independent agents grow into more than 250 independent agencies. This has made OAA the number one ranked Strategic Master Agency of SIAA for the last 5 years, and one of Oklahoma's 25 Best Companies to Work for.

Tony loves to share his knowledge, insight and wisdom through his bestselling books as well as in free mediums including podcasts and blogs.

Tony and his family are members of Crossings Community Church, and he is very active in community initiatives: he’s chairman of It’s My Community Initiative, Inc., a nonprofit working with disadvantaged people in Oklahoma City; and chairman of the Oklahoma Board of Juvenile Affairs., and he has served through many other organizations including the Salvation Army, Last Frontier Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Rotary Club.

In his spare time, Tony enjoys time with his family. He’s also an active outdoorsman and instrument-rated commercial pilot.