The highs get higher and the lows get lower as you progress. You become calloused to both sides as you have more of them. Experience is the greatest teacher, and it’s great to see how as time progresses we realize that not only is everything temporary, but it also makes us better. You get “used to” both sides (wins and losses) being polarizing, and just like everything, the more you do and experience something, the more routine it becomes.
Adam Niec is best known for his success in the Payments Industry. He started off doing direct sales serving Small Business Owners and creating customized payment solutions for them. After 5 years of selling, Adam created Certain Pay with his partner Marshall Lowy. Certain Pay is a Payment Processing company that operates by 8 Core Values while working towards this mission statement: “Certain Pay’s mission is to change the way merchants think about their Credit Card Processor by shifting the conversation away from rates & fees to the value that a great Payment Processor can provide. This allows both sides of the transaction to prosper.”
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Thank you for having me here! My name is Adam Niec, and I live in Cleveland, OH with my wife and 19-month old daughter. We have a baby boy due July 1st. I own a Payment Processing company called Certain Pay and a Software Company called Rate Tracker, LLC.
Rate Tracker is a FREE Software Tool for Business Owners who accept credit cards. It acts as a “watchdog” over their merchant account so they find out immediately when their rates get increased instead of finding out months or even years later. This saves them thousands of their hard-earned dollars.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
My professional background started right after college when I started selling Credit Card Processing for a multi-billion dollar company.
Certain Pay — I realized I was able to generate my own leads and had a bigger vision for my career than selling Credit Card Processing. My partner, Marshall Lowy, and I aligned in many ways and launched our company together in April of 2019.
Rate Tracker — My best friend showed me an app called TrueBill that he uses to keep track of his personal finances. It allows you to keep track of your cash, income, budgets and helps monitor subscription costs. I thought to myself “it would be great if it could help a merchant automatically keep track of their out-the-door cc processing rate. It has to exist already.” Turns out, it didn’t exist, so I decided to create it.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
I was a natural-born entrepreneur. It is in my blood and always will be. The thrill of solving a problem for someone else or creating value and getting paid for it is so exciting. There is something special about doing the work and creating money out of thin air.
I have worked for employers and always disliked not being in control of my schedule. I also enjoy the risk entrepreneurship brings, believe it or not.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
My wife and I were talking about me leaving my job in Credit Card Processing sales to launch Certain Pay, and she said: “well maybe you should just resign then and get started.” That was what I needed to hear and I resigned the next day. This was in April of 2019 and I had a great thing going at the time. I made 216k dollars in 2018 as a 27-year-old and had plenty of referral channels and lead flows set up that I had to walk away from and start completely from scratch. We had a baby on the way, and I was definitely taking a risk.
I have to tip my hat to my mentor, Ryan Stewman, as well. I joined his program “Break Free Academy” in October of 2018 and that’s where I learned how to generate leads and level up my mindset. I joined his top-tier mastermind group when I was still a salesperson. Everyone in the group is a successful business owner and eons ahead of me in their entrepreneurial journey so I felt out of place and like I didn’t belong in the room. Ryan helped give me the education, direction, and confidence to make the leap from Salesman to CEO.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Certain Pay — Our Internal Team. I hear countless stories of our clients and salespeople talking behind everyone’s back (in a good way.) We are a small unit that moves in unison towards our common goal. It’s so great to hear when someone sings the praises of one of our Internal Team. We pride ourselves on the “White Glove” service and are all in on the people we work with. The most exciting thing about building a business is the relationships it creates. I love seeing our team become friends and have each other’s backs. This cohesive culture helps us stand out because we are a team of human beings who truly care for each other and our clients.
Rate Tracker — Nothing like Rate Tracker exists, so here’s a quick description: Rate Tracker is a FREE tool for Business Owners that helps them easily and AUTOMATICALLY keep track of their out-the-door Credit Card Processing rate. When a rate increase happens, they find out immediately instead of months or even years down the line.
Rate Tracker’s intention is to eliminate the deceptive practices that exist in the Payments Industry when it comes to Rates & Fees. I’ve signed over 500 Merchant Accounts in my 7 years of being in the Payments Game and I can tell you that most merchants are clueless and negligent when it comes to their fees. They’re busy running their business and have many hats to wear. Payment Processors know this, and they prey on it. I believe businesses of ALL SIZES should be treated fairly and have easy, simple access to their costs. You have to know your numbers, especially in today’s world.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Work Ethic — I hit it hard every day for my team and our clients. I always will, and I enjoy putting in the work each day. You will not outwork me.
- People Skills — I’ve been blessed with the gift of gab as well as the ability to read people and connect with them. I learned this from my mom because she has that ability as well. I’m realizing more and more each day that being an effective leader is all about connecting with and relating to your team. Being able to read another human being is a superpower and I’m grateful for it.
- Big Thinking — Being a dreamer at heart, I think as big as I can. My favorite book by far is called “The Magic of Thinking Big” By David J. Schwartz and I read it almost quarterly. When you set your goals extremely high, almost everything that falls in line with that goal will happen for you in a subsequent fashion. For example, Rate Tracker can give value to any merchant who accepts credit cards regardless if they process their payments with Certain Pay. Rate Tracker is a potential industry disruptive tool that most business owners want, so it naturally causes great exposure for Certain Pay and helps Certain Pay grow.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
It takes money to make money. This is completely false. You can create money out of thin air by using your head and solving someone else’s problem or filling a need.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
- Be prepared to expect the unexpected each day
- Don’t get hung up on “the little stuff”
- Always keep moving forward no matter what
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
- Partner with Rate Tracker. If you own a Payment Processing Company or sell Credit Card Processing, Rate Tracker helps get your message across to your clients and referral partners if you are honest. Merchants resonate with it, and it’s going to change the deceptive landscape of our industry.
- Always be the real you. Authenticity is more important than fame, success, or money. Being real matters most to me. I always will keep it real and say how it is. I think that’s crucial if you want to create a sustainable culture within your company.
- Create Core Values within your company and your life that guides your day-to-day life and decision-making. This helps make sound decisions when it comes to hiring and firing, marketing, etc., and allows you to remain firm in who you are when times are tough. I would say Core Values are the first and most important thing in your business. Operating by them will help you attract like-minded people and make your day-to-day more fun.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
In today’s world, your brand is everything. No longer are the big companies in control of consumer habits and spending. Online Reviews and reputation are so important if you really want to build a long-term successful company. Sure, you could make a quick and easy buck, but if you want something sustainable, it better be built on a firm foundation with good people who align with your Core Values.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Focusing too much on revenue/sales without the infrastructure to support clients. It’s a recipe for disaster and I lived through it. When we launched Certain Pay, we put our heads down and focused on signing merchant accounts to generate revenue without creating systems, processes, and infrastructure. We learned a lot of lessons and are better for it today.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
No matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will certainly have dramatic highs and lows. As you grow as a person and your company grows, so does your mindset, goals, and expectations. The highs of today are much higher than the highs of 2 years ago when we launched, and the lows are lower than they were. This is because more is riding on us and we have more mouths to feed, plus there are more variables when you grow.
The most important thing you can develop as an entrepreneur is right in-between your ears. Mindset and mental toughness matter more than anything in business. Setbacks and massive wins lie ahead of you. Gratitude and appreciation for everything you have and what life is telling you is what will carry you through the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur.
This is different from someone with a “regular job” because when you’re an entrepreneur, you own EVERYTHING in your life. Sometimes things can be daunting and frustrating, and that’s okay. It’s a part of the gig. Someone with a “regular job” has a clear-cut responsibility and role and a steady paycheck. When you’re an entrepreneur, you have a broad spectrum of things to handle, and your income is never guaranteed. This is why it can be so challenging (and rewarding) to make the leap. Like my wife said: “if it were easy, everyone would do it.”
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
We had a company gathering in September of 2020 in Cleveland, OH. Our team from out of state flew in and some even drove in. We spent the weekend together and it was so much fun. We went to TopGolf and I actually teared up because of how great it felt to have everyone together and to see them laughing and having fun. COVID had us locked up and separated, so it was even more exciting to have the team together.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
One of the Payment Processors we used to work with had an employee make a manual error which cost us 15,512.50 dollars and they didn’t do anything to work with us on it or help us. We were fine and still able to make payroll that month, but that definitely made me feel vulnerable and realize how significant of a difference the “little things” can make. We were shocked that we just got stuck like that by a company we had done a lot of business with.
This experience made us realize that we are strong and also that COVID exposed many companies. There are so many lessons to be learned from COVID, and we feel that this company did this because they were hurting for cash and didn’t want to own up to their own mistake. We chose not to sue them for gross negligence because they pay us 20k dollars per month from the active merchant accounts we have with them (give or take) and we didn’t want to ruffle their feathers, so we just took it as a loss and learned from it.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
We kept moving and didn’t let it stop us or slow us down. It actually lit a fire under our butts and motivated us more than ever.
As mentioned, the little things make a big difference and that’s something we talk about all of the time at Certain Pay. You can apply that lesson to many aspects of life. Attention to detail and undivided focus can make a world of a difference and are what separates good from great.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- If you choose to be an entrepreneur, you’re deciding to lead an extraordinary life with extraordinary pressure and responsibility… it’s a part of the gig. This ain’t for the ill-hearted and you CHOSE to be here, so own it.
- Everything is temporary. Setbacks and Wins are temporary and life goes on regardless. It’s best to remain grateful and even-keeled so you don’t get too attached to the outcome. Although we want to, you can’t control the outcome. You can only control your attitude and efforts.
- If your vision is greater than the struggles, you should be just fine.There’s a story about two men that were running away from a bear in the woods. One of them was in great shape and an elite athlete, while the other was in average shape. They both escaped from the bear and the one in average shape was able to significantly outrun the elite athlete. When asked how he could run so fast, he replied: “I just kept my eyes on the horizon and ran towards the light. I didn’t look down once.” The lesson here is that instead of paying attention to the ground and attempting to navigate over sticks, stones, and trees, focus on where you want to go. If you focus on what’s directly ahead of you, sure you will move forward, but at a slower pace. If you focus on your Vision, you’ll be able to navigate through the highs and lows better and quicker. A big vision makes it all worth it. After all, we do what we do for our vision and our people.
- The highs get higher and the lows get lower as you progress. You become calloused to both sides as you have more of them. Experience is the greatest teacher, and it’s great to see how as time progresses we realize that not only is everything temporary, but it also makes us better. You get “used to” both sides (wins and losses) being polarizing, and just like everything, the more you do and experience something, the more routine it becomes.
- You are YOU, and at the end of the day, no one can ever take that away from you. “You are the master of your fate, and the captain of your soul.” — William Ernst Henley. I love this quote. Extreme ownership and accountability are what we have to fall back on. It’s an empowering and sobering expression to think that we are responsible for EVERYTHING in our lives — both good and bad. Knowing who you are and sticking to it will help you immensely. This is why gratitude and self-love are so important.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is the ability to bounce back and push through anything that’s thrown at you. Vishen Lakhiani gave a beautiful speech about the Law of Attraction and he said:
“Being an entrepreneur is a lot like being a cockroach… You have to be able to crawl through a bunch of shit, and not wind up dead.”
Characteristics of resilient people:
- Gratitude — life happens FOR you, not to you.
- Relentlessness — you will be challenged mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, etc.
- Work Ethic — you learn how to be resilient by putting the work in and relying on the foundation you laid.
- Purpose — your purpose deeply roots your resilience.
- Growth/Learning Mindset — being able to extract the lessons from experiences will make you more resilient.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
Playing sports, especially Football helped create a resilient mindset. By no means am I perfect in this regard, yet I seek to improve it daily. Football taught me how to play through pain, to never let up when you’re ahead, and to never quit when you’re behind.
I tore almost every ligament in my left knee in my senior year of college catching a pass over the middle, and I learned a lot about myself throughout the surgery and healing process. I rehabbed it and was gifted the ability to play the 5th season by the NCAA. This experience taught me that pain is temporary and if you love something, you’ll find a way to make it happen. There was no possible chance that my last play would be an injury. I do not go down like that and even though I was advised against playing another year, I thought to myself: “Well, I’ll only be able to play football during this phase of my life… I can always get knee surgery down the road.”
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
Not entirely. I’m learning to get better at this. I always look for the positives, but sometimes they aren’t there right away. I’m positive in the sense that I’ll always think abundantly and look out for other people. Good things happen in every situation even if you can’t see them right away.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
Everything starts from the top including attitude. At the end of the day, the one thing you can control is your own attitude. No matter what, you choose your attitude. By being positive and always moving forward, you create a culture of winners and those who want to follow your lead. I love this aspect of entrepreneurship and this is why I’m so big on mindset. If you have a pessimistic attitude, so will your team and it will be reflected outwards to your clients and their team. If you’re optimistic, you’ll have a happy culture full of people that want to grow with you and it will help you attract the best clients and referral, partners.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
“You only live once.” — there’s a rap song by Drake written about this, and I used to party and live the “YOLO” life as depicted in the song and music video.
As I approach 30 years of age, I realize that time is precious and we only get one crack at this thing called Life. It’s motivating as what to me to realize that one day I will die and the only thing that will live on is the impact I leave on other people and the memories we create together. I choose to pursue greatness every day because I want to lead a life of fulfillment and create the perfect life for my family.
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!