James Wilkerson

James Wilkerson

James Wilkerson

August 24, 2021

In 2019, two years after he graduated from Vincennes University with a degree in business administration and management, James Wilkerson took a chance on himself and his future by launching his own business: The Wilkerson Agency (Noble Insurance and Financial Services) in Princeton, Indiana.

As with any new enterprise, the first year brought ample opportunities for learning and growth as Wilkerson focused on building his customer base. The agency offers a range of insurance products, including auto, home, business and Medicare supplemental coverage.

But before the first year of business was complete, the world changed – almost overnight – as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe. Like other entrepreneurs whose operations center on personal interactions, Wilkerson had to quickly reshape his business. The personal touch gave way to the virtual handshake.

Wilkerson said the management fundamentals he learned at VU, especially in marketing, helped him to adjust to the new reality of running a small business during a health and economic crisis.

Asked about the advice he would offer someone thinking about starting their own business, Wilkerson pointed to five principles.

“First, they should research the industry of the business they are trying to start. Second, create a business plan and execute it,” he said. “Third, make sure you have enough working capital to make it through your first year. Fourth, continue to improve process to eliminate waste and deficiencies. Lastly, look for new products and territories to grow your business.”

Wilkerson said his two years of study at VU helped him to develop a depth of knowledge in accounting, business ethics and other skills he needed to launch and manage an enterprise from the ground up.

As the pandemic begins to recede, Wilkerson is poised to push his agency to the next level.

“It’s not for everyone,” he said, “but it can be very rewarding if you have the skills and knowledge to be in business for yourself.”

Meet more Trailblazer entrepreneurs by visiting the VU Alumni-Owned Business Directory.