Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt’s Business Model for Agency Growth

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May 27th, 2010


I recently read An Empire of Wealth by John Steele Gordon, a fascinating look at the history of the American economy.  One specific passage, discussing the simple brilliance of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt’s steamboat business model struck me profoundly.  Gordon writes:

“The Commodore’s business model was simplicity itself: (1) run the most efficient, lowest-cost organization possible; (2) compete fiercely by means of price […]; and (3) live up to your agreements.”

Cost-efficient, competitive pricing, keep your word – could not be clearer or more effective.  These basic principles made Vanderbilt one of the world’s wealthiest men in his lifetime.  Vanderbilt’s model stood out to me because these are the ideas that we are coincidently using to built our insurance agency marketing and lead generation business nearly 200 years later.

StartUpSelling, as a completely virtual business, pays for no infrastructure and therefore has incredibly low costs.  This in turn allows us to offer highly competitive pricing.  The last of Vanderbilt’s pillars speaks for itself, as we of course do everything possible to deliver on our promises.

In the 1800’s Vanderbilt was able to provide the greater New York City area with affordable steamboat service using his model of competitive efficiency.  Today, we are by no means as successful as the Commodore, but are employing the same principals to achieve significant growth for our business and for our insurance agency marketing and lead generation clients.

Low costs, competitive pricing, keep your agreements – three simple ideas to apply to your business.

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