Growing your Business Development Skills with Chris Graham and Mo Bunnell

author
By Mo Bunnell

Chris Graham shares his growth story of both personal and professional development, and how he uses his skills and connections in his private equity firm Crown Capital Investments to impact the communities and families of the businesses they’re invested in. Learn how Chris developed the skills needed to create powerful relationships, but also the internal mindset he was missing that prevented him from scaling his impact to what he knew it could be; how to think bigger, quicker, and how to find a mentor and get them invested in your success.

 

Mo asks Chris Graham: When was the moment you realized growth was a good thing?

  • As a lawyer, you’re responsible for the whole gamut of the business. The whole process is about connecting and engaging with clients on a deeper level, and Chris realized that he needed a new approach in order to scale.
  • Everybody who is striving to be more has to cut what they are good at, to take a risk at doing something better.
  • Chris had a great relationship with his clients but being limited to a one-to-one impact felt restricting for what he wanted to do so he pivoted from law into private equity. He had to give up what he had been building for 20 years to have an opportunity to make an even greater impact.
  • His experience over the 20 years of growing his law practice gave him a unique perspective into what entrepreneurs can do to grow their business. Taking that experience into the private equity space, along with the confidence of a few key families, helped Chris find success in his new line of work.
  • The transition from one-to-one to one-to-many didn’t happen all at once.
  • Chris started things off by taking a lot of the risk on himself. He bet on himself to make it easier for clients to also bet on him too.
  • When he decided to move into private equity, Chris scaled back his law firm to give himself more bandwidth and started blocking off time to focus on the new project. This gave him the room to build the new company.
  • If you don’t block time, there will always be something to absorb the time you didn’t block for your new venture. You’ll never get off the old ladder if you don’t block off time for the new ladder.

 

Mo asks Chris Graham: What is your personal definition of growth?

  • Chris has always been driven by learning new things. Since he spends nearly all his time now selling, he focuses on reteaching all the things he has learned over the years.
  • What people really want is for someone to help them identify problems they didn’t even know they had and help them solve those problems.
  • As experts, it’s very easy to get so focused on what you know that you aren’t even aware of the issues that are just outside your expertise.
  • The mindset that Chris carries into a meeting is one of being excited to learn and showing how he can help. By being truly concerned about the other person, it’s a lot easier to customize your solution to actually solve their problem.
  • When speaking with potential investors, Chris is looking to learn what their investment goals are to see if they are aligned with them. His company has a well defined mission and invests in very specific types of companies. If the opportunity is not a fit, that’s okay.
  • If the goals are aligned but the person may not be ready to go yet, Chris tries to break the information into more bite-sized pieces instead of overwhelming them with everything at once.
  • Dripping out follow-up content has made building trust with investors a success.

 

Mo asks Chris Graham: What is your favorite science, step, or story from the GrowBIG Training or Snowball System?

  • One of Chris’s favorite strategies actually came from one of Mo’s Grow Big Playbook emails about how long your emails should be.
  • When you’re in a moment, it can be hard to step back and see the bigger picture. Try to get a greater perspective and see if what you are considering is being given too much or too little importance.
  • Whenever you’re worried about whether something is worth your time, measure it against whether you’re future self will be proud of it.
  • Chris starts his day off at 5 AM with some exercise and reading time to get into the right mindset for the work that day. He also has time blocked off everyday that allows him to focus, think, catch up, and tackle problems that arise.
  • Impact isn’t always about the time involved, it can also involve leveraging relationships and connection. When determining what to focus on, Chris looks at impact, connection, and how something aligns with his long-term vision.
  • Every mission is a vision of a future that’s better than today. Chris’s vision is one of restoring community capitalism and rebuilding the communities and families that are impacted by those companies.
  • Find the intersection between something you are really interested in and having a big impact on the world. The problem with big missions is that they take a long time to fulfill, so you better be interested in it.

 

Mo asks Chris Graham: What growth story are you most personally proud of?

  • Making the pivot from law to private equity is the thing that Chris is the most proud of. The pivot was hard and took a long time but it has allowed him to make more impact than ever before.
  • One of the examples that Chris talks about is a company where Chris implemented his methodology of growth and after 19 months they grew from $2.3 million to $4.9 million in profit. Rather than just generate more sales, Chris helped them become more process efficient.
  • Chris grew up in a trailer park back in the 70’s where there was still a sense of community. That experience is why Chris is so dedicated to the mission of rehabilitating those kinds of communities now.
  • It was a long process of learning and growing before Chris was able to connect all the dots. Being raised in a poor community, Chris wasn’t exposed to the idea of entrepreneurship and the impact you can have at that level until after he began his career in law.
  • Chris is insatiably curious, which is a trait that has propelled him throughout his career. That curiosity is what allowed Chris to make the jump from each level to the next.
  • After working with families that owned businesses for 17 years, Chris could see things that they couldn’t. This was a big motivation for buying the first business.
  • Chris realized that, over the period of growing the law firm from eight lawyers to 22 lawyers over 24 months, he got himself into a position where he couldn’t use his strengths. Instead of floundering, Chris made the hard decision to cut back to what was working before, which allowed him to eventually make the transition to bigger and better things.

 

Mo asks Chris Graham: If you could record a video around growth skills and send it to your younger self, what would it say?

  • Chris’s message would be simple: Think bigger, quicker.
  • Chris had been entrepreneurial his whole career, but he didn’t have the vision at the time to be able to make the leap to start his own law firm.
  • Before starting Crown Capital, Chris didn’t know exactly what a private equity firm did on a day-to-day basis, but he knew he was interested and there was an opportunity for him there. He reached out to other private equity firms and sold them on the skills and connections he had to get some experience, and doing that eliminated the mystery.
  • Use the value you have and try to get involved. Maybe you’ll have a better way to do it, which is what Chris discovered, or you will learn what you need to know to make a decision.
  • Asking somebody to mentor you is a powerful move, people love to mentor when they can and often they can become invested in your success. A great question to ask is, “I need a mentor in this space to make the transition. Are you available?”

 

 

Mentioned in this Episode:

GrowBIGPlaybook.com

linkedin.com/company/crowncapitalinvestments

linkedin.com/in/christophertgraham25

cgraham@ccfos.com

crown-inv.com

Crown Capital Investments on YouTube - youtube.com/channel/UCLstgUIyDH9bRFTHH0vWAbg

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