Accidental entrepreneur brings new outlook

Published 10:08 am Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sarah and her husband, Brian, moved to Albert Lea from Illinois. They own two businesses: Intego Insurance Services Inc. and Intego Financial Group LLC. -Provided

Sarah and her husband, Brian, moved to Albert Lea from Illinois. They own two businesses: Intego Insurance Services Inc. and Intego Financial Group LLC. -Provided

What’s your story? by Natasha Willey

Three major events in Sarah Hensley’s life brought her back to southern Minnesota. She had recently been married, her mother was starting to think about the future of her business and she was ready for a career change.

“It was kind of this trifecta of all these thoughts and discussions,” she said. “Never in a million years did I think that I would become a business owner. It just wasn’t on my radar at all.”

Natasha Willey

Natasha Willey

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Three years later, Sarah and her husband, Brian, are now guiding two different businesses. The first is Intego Insurance Services Inc., formerly known as Donna Nelson Insurance. They’ve also added a second business that focuses on financial services through Intego Financial Group LLC.  First started in Alden, Intego Insurance and Intego Financial now have a second office in Albert Lea.

Sarah and Brian were living in Illinois, but as time went on, they realized their current skillsets and passion would be a perfect fit for Donna’s insurance business. It would also offer Sarah the opportunity to be closer to family. Both were able to bring in the skills and positive experiences they had in other careers and adapt them to the insurance world.

Sarah said she never would have taken this opportunity without Brian and her mom’s encouragement.

“I am a very cautious person, and being an entrepreneur requires taking risks and sometimes just closing your eyes and jumping,” she said.

Working with family can bring its own challenges, but can also be very rewarding.

“Everyone struggled initially with what their role was, even though we had spent time planning and assigning roles,” she said.

They all agree that the best way to work with family is to put their family relationship before their business relationship.

Brian had worked with many small businesses and brought a strong financial background, so Brian and Sarah felt comfortable with quitting their jobs and moving 300 miles.

“I have been advising small family businesses on making hard decisions for a long time. It was a unique experience to be on the other side and experience the emotions myself,” Brian said.

There was a little less of a risk expanding the business, rather than starting from scratch because of all the hard work Donna and her employees had put in building the business the past 15 years.

What is the biggest piece of advice that Sarah has for entrepreneurs? Never be scared to ask questions.

“Since I had always been an employee and had never been in the entrepreneur role, the experience has been beneficial. It’s taken me to that place where I’m not afraid to ask questions and challenge why we, or our business partners, do things the way we do. I’m the newbie. I can — and I have to — ask questions.”

Sarah and her husband, Brian, will talk about their entrepreneurial experiences along with ways to grow your business while protecting your assets and managing your risk.

It will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday at The Marketing Plant, 137 S. Broadway, and will run for approximately an hour. A networking session will proceed from 7 to 8 p.m. Guests are welcome to come for half or the entire duration of the ALEAP event.


Natasha Willey is the concierge aficionado at The Marketing Plant. She graduated in 2015 from Wartburg College with a degree in writing, concentration in public relations.