Stacia Robinson left the Air Force in 1991 with the rank of captain and bought the state’s first Business Network International franchise, created a benefits provider agency, and recently sold her BNI franchise to focus on The BeneChoice Companies LLC.
The Denver native is now in her 27th year in business, including as the agency principal for The BeneChoice Companies LLC and district manager for Colonial Life Insurance Co. Robinson also is significantly involved in volunteering and networking. She serves on the Business Council of Alabama board of directors.
At her agency she leads a team of 10 agents. With two employees including herself at The BeneChoice Companies LLC, she’s the epitome of a small business person.
How did she do it?
“I come from an entrepreneurial family, for one,” Robinson said in a recent interview. “I was involved in Junior Achievement in Denver and my mom was a teacher but started a business.”
Robinson attended college in Atlanta and enrolled in ROTC, earned a B.S. in mathematics, and spent seven years in the U.S. Air Force as a communications-computer officer. Along the way she completed an M.S. degree in Counseling and Human Development at Troy University in Montgomery.
She served as the Chief of Vendor Liaison and planned the first computer conference at Maxwell Air Force Base-Gunter Annex, which is now the Air Force IT Conference. After separation from the Air Force Standard Systems Center she began her marketing business.
“When I got out of the Air Force I read a book called ‘Working From Home’,” she said. “I had been exposed to entrepreneurial minds and had some commercial accounts and knew I needed to meet business owners. I called the founder of BNI up and asked do you have a franchise in Alabama? He said no and I said would you like one?”
Alabama became the ninth BNI franchise state. It’s a business membership-based organization that provides member referrals. BNI was in 73 countries worldwide when she recently sold her franchise.
She started The BeneChoice Companies LLC – “bene” means “good” in Latin – in 2000 providing benefits such as payroll, paychecks, life insurance, health insurance, disability, and human resources support. “We enroll those and partner with those who do,” she said.
Robinson helps businesses and organizations design benefits programs and save money providing them. Her business includes employee benefits design and administration, advertising consulting, and professional speaking
Robinson is now in her 17th year providing benefits.
Large or small, common business challenges cross size lines. Robinson said her greatest challenges including illogical, ill-conceived, and unnecessary regulations.
“They are annoying no matter the size and make it difficult to stay in business,” she said. “It’s hard for people who want to work to stay on top of regulations. It’s also a challenge for anybody to stay ahead of the needs of your potential clients because in the mix of things they change with the economy.”
She is an accomplished public speaker, is involved in Toastmasters International, a communications and leadership organization, and holds the title of “Distinguished Toastmaster.”
Robinson is involved in at least a dozen volunteer organizations, including serving as the 2016-17 president of Leadership Montgomery.
“It’s important in terms of exposure for business owners to contribute to the community,” Robinson said. “Volunteer business owners need to be visible and active in the community.”
Her volunteerism includes, in addition to Leadership Montgomery and the BCA, Leadership Alabama, the Montgomery County Department of Human Resources, President on the Leadership Council of National Federation of Independent Business, the Alabama Small Business Commission, is chair of the board of the Fortitude Foundation for the Montgomery Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a member of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce and was the first African-American female to be elected to the chamber board, served as the Marketing & Promotions Task Force Chairman for the Council of Small Business Enterprises, which conducted the ADDY award winning “Buy Greater Montgomery” campaign.
She previously served as president, American Advertising Awards Chair, vice-president of programs, and director of publicity and public relations for the Montgomery Advertising Federation, developed and hosted a local cable talk show dedicated to the Montgomery community, and serves as a commissioner and past-Chairman on the Commission for the 15th Judicial Court Pre-Trial Diversion Program.