3 Ways to Catapult Your Business Success

20160623093138-shutterstock-291917768Image credit: Shutterstock

Something that has always deeply fascinated me is learning about the journey that has helped in the development of a majorly successful company get to where they are now. I absolutely love hearing about all of the strategies and tactics that have drastically helped in their growth as an organization, but also all of the obstacles that they had to overcome along the way.

The one thing that I have learned over the years having the great fortune of sitting down with executives from major organizations as well as successful startup founders is that there is a learning opportunity within their success for all of us to benefit from regardless of what industry one is in.

Recently, I had the great opportunity to sit down with the founders and Managing Directors Dick King and Mark Timmerman, along with Vice President David Modiano of City Capital Advisors (“City Capital”) based in Chicago, IL.  City Capital is a uniquely positioned investment bank whose sole mission is to provide senior level expert advice and execution services to leading middle market companies and their owners.

In its relatively short 10 year history since Dick and Mark left 20 year careers at William Blair & Company, City Capital has successfully completed over 50 transactions aggregating over $4.0 billion in value. They advise owners and management of private and publicly held middle market companies, typically valued between $25 million and $500 million with merger and acquisition advisory, capital formation for executing leveraged buyouts and ownership recapitalizations, as well as executing corporate financial restructurings.

City Capital’s biggest and most notable merger assignment to date concluded just two weeks ago when they advised Indiana’s family-owned Jayco Corporation in a successful merger with publicly-traded Thor Industries Inc. for $576 million.

When sitting down with Dick, Mark, and David, we discussed how City Capital went from a small two-man show to becoming a leading deal broker and investment banking firm in the middle market space. Here are three things that City Capital credits to their success as well as help you to implement into your own business.

1. Find your niche market and grow there.

Whatever industry you are in, it’s absolutely vital that you find your niche market and then develop a laser like focus to direct all of your time and energy in servicing that space. When Dick and Mark started City Capital, they admit that they didn’t have a concise business plan, but the one thing that they did know was their niche market of middle-market companies and how they were going to bring extreme value there. You may be tempted to explore different, more potentially lucrative markets such as larger companies in City Capital’s case, but don’t give in. The leading companies that are dominating their markets make it a major priority to find their niche and then operate solely within the confines of that space.

2. Relationships matter most.

Co-founder and Managing Director, Dick King said, “We knew from the beginning that the one way we were going to differentiate ourselves was to build thriving business referral relationships. Everything in our business revolves around people and relationships, and that is one key area that we take very serious.” I personally talk a lot about the importance of relationships, and when analyzing and digging beneath the surface to see what truly makes City Capital stand out from the rest of the competition, it’s clear to see the strength of their professional relationships is at the top of the list.

One of the best things that you can do right now whether you are a startup or an established company is to place an enormous value on your relationships and always striving to give more than you take. This type of mentality will always serve your future success more than you can ever begin to imagine.

3. Create a culture where everyone feels important.

Culture is and will forever always be a critical component in determining the health and success of any organization. The best organizations all the way from Fortune 500 companies down to small family-owned businesses with five employees create a culture where everyone feels important and wants to do everything possible to carry out the organization’s overall mission. When discussing culture, Mark Timmerman said, “We wanted to create a culture where not only everyone feels important, but is also part of a tangible contributing factor to the future of our success.” One of the ways that City Capital has created this culture is to not appoint a CEO. Even though Dick King and Mark Timmerman founded City Capital, they pride themselves in having developed a culture where other senior team members don’t view them as bosses.

As a leader, it’s your job to instill and demand a culture that makes everyone feel accountable mainly to themselves and of course to their customers. By creating a collaborative atmosphere and attracting highly-productive and talented senior investment bankers, it’s truly amazing what can happen. City Capital is another example of just how important culture truly is, regardless of how big an organization is.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

A Personal Mission Statement Can Set You on a Course to Success

Many people find themselves simply going through the motions of life without truly knowing where they’re headed. This is the main reason why so many people can’t escape mediocrity. Going through everyday chaos, meeting new demands, and striving for more, we can easily fall victim to what I like to call “blindly coasting.”

Just as you might see your favorite company or business with a mission statement, it is vitally important that you as an individual create one as well. Take a look at the success of one of your favorite companies, for example. It has a set of core values, accompanied by a mission statement clearly stating what its purpose is as an overall company or brand.

This mission statement is its guiding light. Something that directs it through every decision it makes. Mission statements are your “why.” Why you do the things you do. Why you keep going when things get tough. If you have no mission, the complexity of everyday life will surely catch up to you and define your mission for you.

Here are three reasons why you should have a personal mission statement:

1. Identity

Way too many people operate out of their memories instead of their imaginations, letting what happened in the past create their present and future identity. Having a mission statement solidifies why you are here and what you’re passionate about.

2. Motivation

We all encounter our share of road blocks. However, when we are very clear in our mission here on earth, nothing can permanently hold us back. It is nearly impossible to prevail through difficult times when you aren’t sure why you should keep going.

3. Direction

Sometimes life can pull us in a million different directions. Having a well-detailed mission statement will help you define priorities and focus on what’s truly important. Just as a business wouldn’t participate in ventures that didn’t support what it is as a company, you wouldn’t participate in activities that jeopardize who you are as a person.

As a starting point, try to see yourself as a brand. What valuable qualities are you contributing to the world? What core values and/or morals are you fearlessly defending? When the going gets tough what drives your purpose? Take these questions into consideration when thinking about the person you have to become in order to accomplish your goals in life.

By answering these questions you should have a good idea of your why, your mission and your statement to the world. It should be your compass through everyday life, your pick-me-up during tough times, and your purpose when you lose sight. Now simply go out and live it.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

That Little Thing That Makes All the Difference

There are many factors that determine success throughout life, however, I strongly believe that having the right attitude towards life, yourself and others is one of the greatest factors of all.

“Obviously, there is something more than facilities and competence that makes for accomplishment,” says Erwin Schell, one of America’s most respected authorities on leadership. “I have come to believe that this linkage factor, this catalyst if you will, can be defined in a single word: attitude. When our attitude is right, our abilities reach a maximum of effectiveness and good results inevitably follow.”

The right attitude can take you to the top of your profession. The right attitude can create extraordinary businesses. The right attitude can build an everlasting legacy. The right attitude can bring out the best in others. The right attitude can spark hope in those who are in need.

Some of the biggest achievements in history were made by men and women who understood the importance of attitude. A good portion of the population will look at these accomplishments and think, “Wow, how in the world did they do that?” We tend to believe these men and women have been blessed with a special gift over the rest of us, that there is no way we could ever do something that remarkable.

It’s that type of mental attitude that will leave you searching and wishing for more in life, never creating and leaving a legacy of your own.

You have ultimate control over your attitude. You aren’t any different from the next person. You have the ability to live your dream and create whatever it is you desire. It all comes down to your attitude.

Why is it that some can earn an extraordinary amount of money with very little education? Why can some defeat such odds and go on to be some of the world’s greatest achievers? Simple. The attitude they chose.

You have two options: Choose a positive and resilient attitude despite any hardship you encounter along the way, or to allow life’s minor mishaps negatively shape your attitude. What you choose will greatly determine the quality of your life.

When you choose a positive attitude, no goal or dream is out of reach. If it has been done before, then you darn well know you can do the same. Someone with a negative attitude loves to play the blame game. The economy limits their financial goals. Circumstances limit their vision for what they can accomplish.

As an ambitious entrepreneur, tough times will come head on with you at some point or another, if they haven’t already. To thrive and create everlasting success when most businesses struggle, it’s imperative that you have a great attitude. Take advantage of your power and the ability to choose whatever attitude it is you desire.

But just know that such a little thing makes such a major difference!

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

You Have Good Ideas–Don’t Let Them Disappear

good ideas

Good ideas come and go every second, but what doesn’t happen very often is the capturing of those thoughts. You can have the brightest and sharpest ideas that could take your life and business to a whole new level, but they mean absolutely nothing if they’re pushed aside and forgotten.

It doesn’t matter what our education levels are or where we come from, we all have great and wonderful ideas. The only problem is that most people let the hustle and bustle of life get in the way and interrupt their ability to capture their golden ideas.

Now, you might not come up with the world’s next greatest invention (or maybe you will). But everything we use in our day-to-day lives was once just an idea. Not every idea will be worth a billion dollars, but perhaps one or two of them can change the trajectory of your business and life for the better.

We all have 24 hours in a day, no more or no less than the next person. Think about how many times where an idea or thought comes to mind but you do nothing about it. There really is no value for us if we don’t take the initiative. The other reason why it is so imperative that we capture our ideas is because coincidence or not, some of our best ideas don’t come to us in the office.

Here are three steps to take every day:

Have a system. The best way I have found to capture ideas on a regular basis is to take a systematic approach to it. We all prefer different ways of doing things. Some of us prefer electronic devices while some of us stick to the trusted pen-and-paper route.

Either way, pick what works for you and stick with it. I prefer to log all of my ideas and thoughts into evernote and then at the end of the day analyze each idea. After I dig a little deeper, I transfer the ideas that I may want to act on immediately or in the near future into my moleskin journal.

Pick the good ones. Just because you start capturing your thoughts and ideas doesn’t mean everything that comes to mind is going to be something that you will act on. Finding time alone where you can analyze what you logged for the day helps tremendously. This is where you can determine whether a specific idea is worthy of your time. Throw out what’s useless.

Make it a habit. Just like with any new habit that we try to adopt into our everyday lives, it takes time. I truly believe that if you make a determined effort on a regular basis to capture your ideas, it will greatly benefit your personal and professional life.

Of all the great men and women I have had the fortune to work with, they all knew the importance of keeping track of their thoughts and ideas. Stick with it.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Five Ways to Change the Odds

5 ways to change the odds

I love America. Where else can someone come from absolutely nothing and go on to create an extraordinary life?

When the odds are stacked against you, it’s so easy to become the statistic everyone expects from you. How does one escape their bleak fate and go on to achieve noteworthy success? How do men and women with very little resources, horrific backgrounds and less-than-promising circumstances end up making history and reaching world-class levels in their line of work?

They each committed to changing their odds. Here are five ways you can, too.

1. Relentless work ethic. 

Countless men and women have overcome obstacles to create everlasting masterpieces. Their key to success is a relentless work ethic. Be willing to outwork the others. Arrive earlier, stay later, do more than is expected of you. Strive to be the best in your field. Take pride in yourself and your work.

2. Unbreakable self-belief.

Life can be tough. Don’t wear the labels people will try to give you. Albert Einstein was once labeled “mentally handicapped” for not speaking until the age of four. His name is now synonymous with “genius.” Shed the limitations and develop expectations for yourself. Begin by seeing yourself as a valuable member of society. Become that. Believe with obstinate conviction that your future is bigger than where you are and where you were.

3. Keep knocking. 

Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors of all time, took 1,000 attempts to make a light bulb that worked. Where would we be if Edison had given up after the 900th time? When asked, Edison said, “I have not failed 999 times, I have simply found 999 ways how not to create the light bulb.” Keep knocking, keep persisting, no matter how long it takes you.

4. Seek positive role models.

Study great men and women who have already reached their pinnacle of success. The vast majority overcame substantial odds.

Your role model can simply be a person of character you want to strive to become. Whether it be the discipline of your mother, work ethic of your father, or a marriage like your grandparents, seek these individuals out. Ask lots of questions and take notes. Try making a list of five people who can be a positive role model in your life and find a way to get in touch with them. You just might be surprised at the response you receive.

5. Create opportunity.

Changing the odds begins by taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way and creating opportunities when there seemingly isn’t one.

One of the core reasons why many miss golden opportunities is because they are thinking in terms of instant gratification. They aren’t willing to lay the groundwork for opportunities to bloom down the road. Laying a firm foundation will allow opportunity to sprout in the future.

Understand that opportunities aren’t always going to come your way. People who wait for the door of opportunity to swing wide open so they can waltz through will likely be waiting a lifetime. Sometimes you have to walk right up to that locked door, size it up and begin breaking it down.

The odds will run your life unless you decide that you are the captain of your ship. What you do when confronted with challenge, the attitude you choose, will dictate your outcome. Focus on your destiny with all into your passion and you will end up at the right destination.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

The One and Only Secret for Achieving Massive Success

Turn on the TV or flip through your favorite magazine and chances are you will come across some ad or article that promises massive success in your life or business if you just buy this particular product or do this one particular thing. It’s all a lie.

There is no secret to achieving massive success. As human beings, it’s not out of the ordinary at some point to look for a shortcut or seek ways to maximize results without maximizing the effort. This type of thinking is carried by the majority of the population.

The fact of the matter is that there are absolutely no shortcuts to accumulate massive amounts of success or to live out your dreams. And there certainly are no secrets that you don’t know about.

The one and only secret to success is taking persistent, massive action. Every high achiever knows this truth. The reason why so many neglect this very important aspect is because actual work has to be done. There is nothing sexy about it. It may not always be the “fun” thing to do, but it always will be the right thing to do when you are in pursuit of greatness, looking to maximize business success, or achieve a specific goal. Taking persistent, massive action requires you to get out of your comfort zone and move even when you may not feel like it.

Create your own opportunities.

Over the years, I have learned one thing is for certain. Those who are willing to take relentless, persistent, and massive action begin to create their own opportunities. Instead of waiting for the perfect time, they go out and create the perfect time. As an entrepreneur and business owner, especially in the beginning stages, you must be willing to do the dirty work.

Increase is the name of the game. 

Make it a game with yourself. If you made 20 phone calls yesterday, make 60 today. If you are visiting with prospects 10 times a month, do more. The name of the game is increase! Increase action, increase persistence, increase relentlessness and increase results.

Find ways to fire yourself up. 

There will be times where taking massive action is the last thing you will feel like doing. That’s why it’s an absolute must to find ways to fire yourself up. Hang your most important goal somewhere where you will see it daily. Talk yourself through. Whatever you have to do, constantly search for ways to fire yourself up and keep yourself in the game. Let the competition fall off and become complacent, but not you. Determine what that “something” is and make it a part of your daily routine.

Massive success doesn’t just happen overnight. But if you are willing to wake up each morning and declare that you are going to compete with the person you were yesterday and constantly take massive action, you will be well on your way.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

You Are Powerful!

You have to understand  that you, yes you, are far greater than any problem or disappointment that may be present in your life.

I don’t care who you are or what you have accomplished, we all go through disappointments in life and struggle from time to time with coming to the realization just how special we truly are.  Think about it, let’s say you have a goal that you want to achieve so badly in life, but three months down the road  you come to find out that you didn’t reach your mark.

What happens?  You quickly rush to start blaming yourself and question your abilities and talents.  You start to listen to the negative voices that keep rolling in and out of your head.  Feeling powerless.  Feeling like a victim instead of a victor.

What you have to understand and never lose sight of is that you have more power and control inside of you than you think you do.  Some people get hit so hard from the outcomes of life that they lose complete sight of their uniqueness and wonderful talents they have been blessed with.

Failures and disappointments aren’t present to degrade our confidence and love for ourselves.  It is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in life.  Learning how to make it “ok” to fail and mess up every now and then.

Understanding that it all is apart of the process to reach and achieve my goals and dreams in life.  To become the best version of myself.  You can experience so much more in life when you don’t look at disappointments and failures as some terrible mishap in life.

Just for a second, look at Abraham Lincoln.  How many times did he fail over and over again before he actually was elected President Of The United States?  Look at Steve Jobs.  A remarkable man who went through disappointment after disappointment before he actually achieved success.  And then when he achieved success, he was hit again with being fired from the company he founded!

Look at Albert Einstein.  How many times did he fail over and over again before once and for all breaking through?  These are three remarkable men who achieved remarkable success who all went through very difficult and tough times.  What they didn’t do though is let the hits they took from life keep them down.  When things went wrong, they didn’t go with them!

They never forgot how powerful and special they truly were.  If you make the decision to tell yourself daily how special you are, start listing all of your unique qualities, no setback or failure will ever be able to hold you back.

Here are five ways you can start to remind yourself daily on how powerful you really are.

1.)  Get in the habit of writing in a gratitude journal. When things go wrong in life and being able to sit down and start listing all you are thankful for, your happiness will be rekindled and you soon will feel a sense of accomplishment.  Even small successes will keep you reminded that you have been successful in the past and that you will be successful in the present and future.

2.)  Continually review and look at your long term goals. Short term disappointments are less likely to derail your well being when you pay mind to all you wish to accomplish in the future.

3.) Striving and working to dig deeper in your spirituality journey. We all have different beliefs, but working to strengthen your spirit will help reinforce how powerful you are.  Whether that is going to church every Sunday, reading scripture throughout your day, or tapping into the power of meditation can help paint the positive picture of yourself.

4.) Find time to read 10-15 pages of something motivational, inspirational, or uplifting to help renew your mind and enlighten your day.  Just spending 10-15 minutes a day reading uplifting material can alone take your life to the next level.

5.) A habit that has positively impacted my life is keeping a notecard filled with powerful and moving quotes to help pick me up throughout the day.  Whenever I felt down or upset about something, I would take my notecard out and repeat over and over to myself the positive quotes that were written down.  This habit helps to interrupt all of the negative thoughts that are trying to take control of your thinking.

You are powerful.  Don’t ever lose sight of how powerful you really are.  Life will knock you down and derail your path, but you don’t have to give in!  Don’t let the tough times demoralize your beauty.  You have a unique skill set that no one else possesses.

You are here to make a difference and make this world a better place.  Just remember, you are far greater than any problem or circumstance that stands in your way!