October 30, 2014

11 Success Tips From Small Business Leaders

Small business success tips video

Whether it’s about how to use social media, getting through the early dark days of a startup, or about marketing your business, getting advice can help you succeed.

The video below contains success tips from 11 business leaders.  It was shot at ICON14 in Phoenix, Arizona. ICON is the Infusionsoft customer conference that attracts 3,000 attendees, most of them small businesses or serving small businesses like yours and mine.

I was there on behalf of Small Business Trends capturing some “man on the aisle” interviews from presenters and attendees.

And out of all the success tips, what’s my favorite?  Well, it’s from Clate Mask, CEO of Infusionsoft, who sat down and talked frankly about the brutally tough early days of the company he co-founded over a decade ago.   Infusionsoft, which got $54 million in venture capital from Goldman Sachs, bootstrapped its way for years before earning that large injection of growth capital.

Mask says that in the early years, every single day was a struggle for survival.  And while cash flow and business experience matter, the real secret, he says, “starts in your head with your success mindset, attitude and positive thinking.” This is what gets you through the struggle.

Below is the video (accompanied by a brief recap of key quotes):

Tip 1: In Social Media, Be Where Your Customers Are

“Know where your customers are hanging out online. You don’t have to be everywhere. Be where your customers are … and communicate with them there.” – Laurie McCabe, Partner SMB Group, SMB-GR.com

Tip 2: Never Stop Networking. Don’t Give Up

“Never stop networking, never stop pushing. It’s easy to give up when everybody around you … is telling you ‘you can’t do it’. You have to be around positive people. Then push on.” – (Starts at 1:08) Tom Force, Owner, ICE Keytags

Tip 3: Twitter Provides Powerful Market Research

“Twitter is the best thing that ever happened to small business owners. You can listen to your competitors or customers, and they don’t even know you’re listening.” – (Starts at 2:01) Melinda Emerson, Author of Succeed as Your Own Boss

Tip 4: It’s all About Mindset and Positive Thinking

“Our first three years were brutally tough… every day was about survival. Then I remembered a lesson from my father. Your mind is everything, yet it’s not what you know, but rather how you deal with it. It is about your mindset and positive thinking.”  – (Starts at 2:43) Clate Mask, Founder and CEO, Infusionsoft

Tip 5: Wearable Tech Keeps You Fit

“The ‘wearables’ tech trend is keeping people fit, keeping them active, and keeping them in toe with their fitness goals.”  – (Starts at 7:10) Tishin Donkersley, Editor in Chief, AZTechBeat.com

Tip 6: A Handwritten Thank You Note Will Wow Customers

“One simple way to ‘wow’ customers is thank-you cards — a handwritten note, a thank-you card saying ‘thank you for buying from me’.” – (Starts at 8:09) Ramon Ray, Technology Evangelist, SmallBizTechnology.com

Tip 7: Share Information on Facebook That is Great for Your Customers

“Having a Facebook presence as a real estate professional is vitally important. Buyers and sellers are there. Make sure you are sharing information that is great for the consumer, not just real estate people.” – (Starts at 9:09) Bill Harney, CEO, Keeping Current Matters

Tip 8: To Get PR, Offer Yourself up as a Thought Leader

“If you are a local small business, look at local media for PR. Read those publications, forge relationships, find out what types of stories the journalists are covering, and offer yourself up as a thought leader on a topic.” – (Starts at 9:49) Laura Collins, PR at Infusionsoft

Tip 9: Put Processes in Place in Your Business to Ask for Referrals

“Put processes in place in your business that ask for referrals. And make sure the customer experience is above expectations.” – (Starts at 11:21) Jonathan Graves, President, Graves Organization, Inc.

Tip 10: Your Sales Pipeline Should Qualify Leads at Every Step

“You need to set up a process to convert the most leads possible. Put them in a sales pipeline … and add checkpoints to determine those who are qualified, versus those who aren’t.” – (Starts at 11:52) Justin Roberts, Infusionsoft Expert, Infusionsoft

Tip 11: Entrepreneurship is Lonely. Reach out to Mentors and Peers

“Entrepreneurship is one of the loneliest professions in the world. The entrepreneurs that are really successful reach out in networking groups and peer associations — or just to one person. They need that thought partner.” – (Starts at 13:00) Jeff Mask, Vice President, Infusionsoft

For more success tips, see The Seven Stages of Small Business Success.

18 Comments ▼

Deborah Shane


Deborah Shane Deborah Shane is a past staff writer for Small Business Trends covering marketing, branding and social media topics. She is a Top 100 Small Business Champion, career transition consultant, personal branding strategist and social media specialist. Deborah hosts her Top 100 Small Business Podcast weekly. Her book #trusthewhy Fundamentals, Values and Humor Get You Through Anything and award winning "Career Transition: Make the Shift" (2011) are available through all major book sellers.

18 Reactions

  1. Networking has become more important than ever. These days, it is quite hard to get a business off the ground if you are not backed up with a good network. After all, no one really succeeds alone. You will always need the help of other people if you want to make it big.

    • Agreed Aira, The days of “lone wolf biz” is over. The most successful people and companies build smart, quality networks of colleagues, customers and followers.

  2. I think everyone working on a start-up needs to hear “entrepreneurship is lonely.” It’s something you don’t understand until you experience it, and that’s a big reason it’s so important to maintain a positive attitude and not get discouraged.

    • Alex, it is probably the most underestimated aspect of the start up process, but no one said it was going to be easy. That’s why it’s important to have a strong support system, to lean on and draw from.

    • Oh, Alex – I can relate to that as a freelancer and someone trying to get her self-employed groove on. The loneliness. Particularly so for me as some of what I’m putting out there is, well, different.

      It can get lonely and isolating.

      p.s.: I think there needs to be a t-shirt with that slogan (“Entrepreneurship is Lonely”) :)

  3. As a certified networker by the Referral Institute, tip #9 (“Put Processes in Place in Your Business to Ask for Referrals”) is music for my ears. I have to work on getting this more in place, in a natural way. It is almost like you should have an index card ready at the end of a successful closing of a deal… :)

  4. I’m learning to go where people who might be interested in what I do might be, rather than doggedly sticking to an environment where I have to persuade interest or receive little to none. It’s a time-waster and can be exhausting. I’d rather be around my choir or those willing/ready to sing, or those who don’t mind listening to the music.

    • Ebele,

      That is a great comment. Don’t waste your time on efforts that are taxing and where you have to pull people’s teeth to listen to you. Something I tell my clients is “Marketing is a contest for people’s attention.” I wrote an article with this title several years ago. You have to know whose attention you are seeking and focus on those people.

  5. Staying positive is key to anything in life, but I think you’re going to have to take some serious action, too. Find cost cutting where you can – – even something as simple as shipping out products can become a greatly profitable and beneficial portion of your business.

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