“Lifestyle entrepreneurship is a beautiful thing,” declares Clate Mask, the founder and CEO of Infusionsoft.
The marketing automation software company he founded and heads up has achieved over 50% sales growth the past 2 years by serving the “lifestyle entrepreneur.”
Mask’s remarks were made as Infusionsoft kicks off its annual customer event for 2014, called ICON14. The event attracts 3,000 customers and partners, and this year they are attending from over 70 countries around the world.
In Infusionsoft’s definition, lifestyle entrepreneurs are those with under 25 employees. These business owners are seeking freedom. And they aren’t looking so much for work-life balance, but in Mask’s words they seek “work-life harmony.”
These are entrepreneurs who don’t aspire to grow their companies to the Fortune 500. They are not going out of their way to add a lot of employees or grow huge. Rather, they are building businesses that allow them more free time for personal and family purposes, while still bringing financial success.
Mask says that some use the term “lifestyle entrepreneur” as a pejorative term, but “we focus on them. We want to serve them.”
Infusionsoft has seen its growth result from understanding exactly the small business it intends to serve. Ninety-six percent of Infusionsoft customers have fewer than 25 employees. And he says that focus will remain. Infusionsoft doesn’t view its mission as serving smaller entities merely as an entry point to go upstream. “We’re not in this just to get a toehold into larger companies — we are committed to this under-25 employee market,” said Mask. He is quick to add that Infusionsoft will not abandon those that do grow larger, noting “we will grow with them.”
Small Business is Misunderstood
According to Mask (pictured above), one of the problems facing small businesses is that they are misunderstood. “The government says a small business has up to 500 employees. Some vendors also describe it that way, or they may have some other definition such as 100 employees.” But when your business has 5 employees it’s frustrating to hear from a vendor trying to sell you a product with a much larger business in mind, he adds. “That actually leads to some of the failure in small businesses, because they end up with tools and products they can’t use.”
Not only is Infusionsoft ultra-specific about the size of the customers it serves, but it is just as specific about their ability to benefit from the product. Mask says they look for businesses that have reached $100,000 in annual revenues, and intentionally steer away most that have not reach that level, as they are not far enough along to be able to benefit from the product. “About 10% of our customers are in that very early stage [under $100,000] but they are committed” to getting past that level, he notes.
Passionate About Championing Small Business
But it’s not all about numbers. Mask is nothing if not passionate about the mission of serving small businesses. In fact, throughout the Infusionsoft headquarters in Chandler, Arizona the mission is pasted on the walls — literally — to remind each person of why they are there.
“My passion comes from the compassion I have from the plight of the entrepreneur, because we’ve been there. It’s not because we think there’s a part of the market being underserved. It comes from US being underserved. We were there. We saw the sacrifices and the failure — and we are on a mission over a long period of time to change the small business failure rate,” says Mask.
“We help customers create the kind of predictable success that enables them to grow without fear of everything caving in one day,” he adds.
That passion flows throughout the organization, too. Infusionsoft hires employees who share the company’s purpose, value and mission. Half of our employees have a side business. The vast majority have run or worked in a small business.
Infusionsoft has over 23,000 customers, 73,000 users and 500 employees. The company’s revenues grew from $39 million to $60 million from 2012 to 2013.