Recap: ICON17 and an interview with Infusionsoft co-founder and CEO Clate Mask

Last week marked Infusionsoft’s 11th ICON conference at the Phoenix Convention Center. Over 3,000 entrepreneurs from around the world joined to network, attend keynotes by renowned entrepreneurs, and learn the latest in business growth strategy.

Infusionsoft hosted a number of booths where attendees could gather to discuss leadership, organization, design, and more. Employees of the Chandler software company were available to discuss strategy with attendees and brainstorm ways in which Infusionsoft’s features could help them grow their businesses. One of these was the Partner Recruitment booth, at which ten companies signed up to work with Infusionsoft directly.

“If you think business isn’t about people, you shouldn’t be in business.”

Marcus Lemonis, entrepreneur, investor, and star of CNBC’s TV series The Profit, spoke at ICON on Wednesday. In addition to doing a keynote on “People, Process, Product,” Lemonis discussed being a mentor with Infusionsoft co-founder and CEO Clate Mask as well as Scott Martineau and Mark Petersen. Lemonis’s keynote on the importance of others during the entrepreneurial process was particularly powerful: “Don’t let other people be invisible” was one of the biggest takeaways. Among other notable speakers were fitness expert and life coach Jillian Michaels, Motivating the Masses CEO Lisa Nichols, and Infusionsoft CPO Terry Hicks.

ICON also included a large handful of breakout sessions led by entrepreneurs from around the country. It was a fantastic opportunity for conference attendees to hear from fellow business owners on topics like content creation, business planning, and customer service.

Infusionsoft award winners

Each year Infusionsoft runs three separate contests in which awards are given to top customers and partners. Finalists are picked by a panel of judges, then ICON attendees vote for the winners, who are announced at the conference.

This year’s winner of the Small Business ICON Award was Dierks Farms, a family-owned grass-fed beef cattle company in Illinois. Dierks Farms has been using Infusionsoft since 2015 and grew their revenue by 76 percent in just nine months.

Business Tech Ninjas, who built a membership site application for Infusionsoft users, won Infusionsoft’s Partner Showcase Award. They recently helped a client grow their contact list by 550 percent.

Appointment Core is an application that allows Infusionsoft users to automate the scheduling process. They received the Infusionsoft Developer Showcase Award for helping business owners schedule more than one million appointments.

“These contests give us an opportunity to recognize excellence in our customers and partners,” said Clate Mask. “We’re shining a light on just three companies that are doing incredible things with Infusionsoft, but what inspires me most is knowing thousands of other customers and partners of ours are seeing similar success. This spotlight recognizes not only Dierks Farms, Business Tech Ninjas, and Appointment Core, but also our entire community who are realizing there’s an easier path to small business growth with our sales and marketing automation solutions.”

An exclusive interview with Clate Mask

Before his speaking obligations last week, I had the chance to meet with Clate Mask one-on-one and ask him a few questions about his strategy, his outlook on the future of small business, and the things that keep him grounded.

ADAM: Infusionsoft started out as a very small business but has grown tremendously over the years. You seem to be really dialed in to what’s going on in the startup and small business community. How do you stay connected with what’s happening at the level where owners of much smaller businesses are playing?

MASK: I get out and speak at events. Wherever there’s a gathering of business owners, I want to talk to them. One of the things that Terry Hicks, our COO, has made possible is for me to get out more. I’ve done Startup Grind and several other conferences over the past couple months. I love to get out and talk with [entrepreneurs].

There’s one called Cocktails with Creators that brings together all the top local tech leaders and innovators. I’ll make sure you get an invitation to that one as well.

Great.

From your talks with your customers and other entrepreneurs, what’s the biggest challenge they’re facing today, and how do you conquer that challenge?

You know, they are distracted by all of the complexity of their businesses, of the technology world. There’s just general distraction. We live in a state of distraction as entrepreneurs. And the trick to cut through all of that is to get to the basics of what works to grow a business: to follow up. It’s follow-up. That’s the message I share over and over and over—it’s what I shared at the keynote today. When you have all this complexity going on, you feel like you don’t have the time, the system, the know-how to follow up with every prospect and customer the way you need to. And the truth is, if you’re trying to do it manually, you don’t have the time. But if you do it in an automated way, it’s a total game-changer.

Very true. So you speak about how the small business world has become more complex. Do you see that trend growing, or do you think there will be a mandate to get back to basics?

Both. I think it’ll get more and more complex, but I think we need to get back to basics. Clear out the confusion and the commotion of global unrest and political messes and your own business fires and everything that’s going on, and get back to basics.

What role do you see technology playing in either decreasing or increasing complexity for small businesses?

I see it bubbling up what matters. I think the combination of artificial intelligence and the wisdom of the crowd will bring “What should I do next?” to the forefront of businesses more effectively to help them cut through the chaos.

So do you have any concerns on that topic?

No concerns—I think it’s a great opportunity. I think it’ll be a little rocky as we work through it and there’ll be a lot more promise and a lot more hype than there is benefit and value. It’s just like any innovation: you’re gonna go through that hype zone, and it’ll take a little while before the real value starts to build up.

As your business has grown, so has your notoriety. You’ve written a best-selling book, you speak publicly, and you run interviews like this one today. Yet it’s clear you maintain a laser-focus on your business and taking it to the next level. What keeps you grounded and focused?

Family, faith, and my vision.

ICON18 passes are already on sale, so get yours before prices go up!

Adam Toren

Author: Adam Toren

Adam Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, advisor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Matthew, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right

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