6 Pillars are the Foundation of Small Business Success

6 pillars of success

“Small business success happens here.”

This was pretty much all over banners, handouts, programs, marketing materials and infused into conversations at the Infusionsoft ICON14 annual conference that I attended as part of the media.

To this company and community, it’s a mindset, a lifestyle and a mantra. It’s ingrained and supported in everything that Infusionsoft does for its community, its in their messaging and in their 9 Core Values. I was very impressed and inspired by the company, the leadership and the conference.

I dubbed it “the biggest small business pep rally,” which Clate especially liked.

They were first class all the way, from my first contact, to my getting home safely. They sent daily reminders, recaps and comprehensive information to make my experience smooth, fun and meaningful. I have been to a lot of conferences over my career and I would say this one was one of the best.

Why? The people, the attitude, the content and the accessibility of all of the attendees, media and Infusionsoft leadership.

6 pillars of success Me and Clate

I felt from the beginning that my experience was their priority and I really appreciated that. As part of the media, we got to visit their headquarters, mingle and network at special events with their leaders and other VIP’s and get to see the company from the inside out, in action.

During our media orientation, Clate talked about the “dark days of early entrepreneurship” and what they did to get through them.

As someone who has worked with many start ups, small businesses and entrepreneurs, and being one myself, I especially appreciated his candor about how this can be the factor that causes most people to give up and walk away – instead of reach out for help.

I had the opportunity to meet one on one with Clate Mask, Infusionsoft Founder and CEO, who was gracious, authentic, honest and quite funny.

Here are some of the ideas and themes I took away from my time with Clate, the attendees I met, and the overall theme of the speakers and presenters.

6 Pillars of Success

Success Mindset

They deeply believe that they will be successful and develop a “success mindset” that fuels them.


They put into place the systems, processes, technology, sales and marketing foundations that keep them on track and organized.


They foster leadership by giving back and being active in their local and national community that keeps them connected.


They know the value and benefits of strong networking both in person and online.


They believe mentorship in business is essential to building strong relationships.

Professional Development

They commit to ongoing professional development to add value and relevance to their customers and colleagues.

Below are a few thoughts Clate shared with me about his early struggles, and how he got through them, that changed the trajectory of his journey:

6 pillars of success

“I had to get really broken down and accept what wasn’t working. I remembered what my Dad told me early in life about having a positive mental attitude. Norman Vincent Peale’s book, “The Power of Positive Thinking” was a game changer. The importance of developing a serious marketing mindset. Success is not an overnight event. It’s a series of fundamentals and values that we commit to and practice daily.”

Most of the people I met at this conference believe this, understand it and are committed to it. It’s not that they don’t have “dark days,”  they just decide to get through them, and use them to learn and become stronger.

These are not new ideas as they have consistently helped fuel growth and success. They are important reminders about the power of commitment, attitude, relevance and perseverance and how foundational they are. As Scott Belsky said, “It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.”

Go make some ideas happen and enjoy this interview I did with Clate Mask, Founder and CEO of Infusionsoft:


Deborah Shane Deborah Shane has been recognized as a Top 100 Small Business Champion and Top 50 SMB Influencer (Dunn and Bradstreet 2015). She is a career transition author, personal branding and social media specialist. Deborah's book "Career Transition: Make the Shift" is available through all major book sellers.

5 Reactions
  1. 6 pillars are the actual basis of small business, if all these are well in order then nothing can stop a business from getting success.

  2. Steve, most people get this in pieces and not very consistently. The goal and the trick is to put them in place consistently and work on them a little bit every day. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. The six pillars mentioned seem dead on to me. And I think that the great majority of them apply not only to success in a small business but in life in general.

    Putting systems into place in particular has yielded, by far, the biggest wins for me. Building up systems–which you continue to tweak and improve–allows you to continue focusing on other important and dynamic things that come up.

    Great takeaways, and it sounds like it was a great conference full of people headed down the right paths.

    • Alex, thanks for stopping by. Most people who not only build a great foundation but are able to sustain it, all have this perspective in place. Systems, procedures, organization, discipline, and flexibility.

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