It was a place for big ideas. Leaders in the small business community gathered for the VIP dinner at Infusionsoft’s massive ICON15 Small Business Conference March 31 through April 2 in Phoenix, Arizona. And none other than Infusionsoft Co-Founder and CEO Clate Mask addressed the group as the festivities got under way.
The setting was a picturesque location set against the backdrop of the majestic Desert Botanical Gardens. And the atmosphere seemed a perfect one in which to reflect.
Surrounded by the inspiring beauty of the great Arizona desert, Small Business Trends took a few moments to interview some of the movers and shakers who had come to the conference.
Paul Greenberg, President, The 56th Group
“We’re seeing this nascent industry forming around customer engagement. Now it’s top of mind in business. The technology is starting to come together. CRM is going to be a piece of that industry. You want to talk about movin’, it’s non-stop movin’.”
Brent Leary, Partner at CRM Essentials
“Mobile and marketing and convergence of advertising technology and marketing technology . . . all on a device. And it doesn’t matter how big or small your company is, you better start doing it or it won’t be long before you’re left behind.
“There’s a seismic shift. Everything’s happening so quickly. What’s new today is old by the end of the day. Keeping up and trying to figure out which things do (small businesses) really go into and which things they wait on, that’s what has everybody shaking right now.”
Deborah Shane, Founder of DeborahShaneToolBox.com
“The sophistication and accessibility of smartphones for recording and documenting things today is a real-time, in-the-moment experience that is absolutely phenomenal. No matter what’s happening, you can click on your smartphone and capture it. It’s becoming a super major marketing tool. Video is still something that is very strong but I think the trend for me is this desire for people to see authentic, personal, real presentations by people talking about their experiences.”
Rieva Lesonsky, Founder of SmallBizDaily
“Consumers have taken to mobile. They search on their phones. They search on their tablets. They buy. mCommerce numbers are amazing. Small business is kind of lagging behind there but you have no choice but to catch up because it’s being led by consumers.
“You’d better go mobile now. You don’t have time to wait.”
Barry Moltz, Founder of BarryMoltz.com
“A lot more small businesses are getting started because of Obamacare. People are no longer tied to their job. They’re free to go out and do what they want and not worry that they’re not going to get health insurance.
“The nature of work really has changed. You can work with the best people all over the world for a short period of time. That’s making it easier to build a powerful small business.”
Erica Nicole, Founder of YFS Magazine
“It’s an exciting time to be an entrepreneur. We create content that inspires, educates, and informs. We’re bridging the gap for a lot of entrepreneurs that feel that entrepreneurship is not as accessible. We’re providing the actual access to experts with subject matter expertise. I feel there is definitely a groundswell in the small business ecosystem when we’re talking about women and entrepreneurship. Women’s collaboration is so important. When we do, we become a powerful force in the small business ecosystem.”
Carolyn Crummey, Editor-in-Chief, Smart Hustle Magazine
“I think this is the year where people are starting to understand the value of content and how important that is to their business. It’s taking that and bringing it full circle. Tying all of the pieces together (content, social media) is really big for people. As soon as they do that, they see a lot more value.”
Mario Kroll, Owner, Uberstrategist
“Marketers have had to lose control of the message. Now, you have to rely on the community and you have to give them solid assets. They can do whatever with it. You give up ownership and you have to hope they’re going to speak well of you. It’s just a different way of thinking about marketing.”
Guillermo Troncoso, Editor at DynamicBusiness.com.au
“In Australia, specifically, it’s about how much support small businesses are getting from the government. When it comes to tax time and when it comes to how much interest or what regulations there are — red tape — that tends to be the biggest issue small businesses are really experiencing.
“There’s a real go-get-’em attitude. It’s the younger generation. They’re really getting involved. Everyone is going online to make their businesses. In terms of the digital age, that’s where it’s at. That’s what makes it so much easier for entrepreneurs right now. We’re getting all kinds of website-based or cloud-based solutions that are leading the entrepreneurial spirit right now.”
Adam Toren, Co-Founder of Blogtrepreneur
“One of our passion projects that we’ve been working on for several years now called ‘Kidpreneurs‘ has really taken it to the next level. It’s really something that we started because my brother’s daughter, who is eight years old, didn’t really understand the basic principles of entrepreneurship. So we tried to find a book or a program that spoke to the kids about entrepreneurship. And really there was nothing out there that really taught these kids those basic principles of entrepreneurship. So we decided, we’re going to write a book. So we wrote the book called ‘Kidpreneurs.’ And it recently surpassed 100,000 copies sold.”
David Waring, Editor-in-Chief, Fit Small Business
“We just bought Infusionsoft ourselves. What’s exciting to me is implementing it into our business and seeing what it can do. We’re looking to start segmenting our email lists. We found that by doing targeted pop-ups that are hyper-related to the page that the user’s on, we can up our conversion rate to four or five percent.
“Infusionsoft’s ability to trigger different events based on that and send customized campaigns to people is really big for us.”
Laurie McCabe, Co-founder of SMB Group
“Mobile is very hot. Small and medium businesses have really glommed on to using more and more mobile apps. The problem is they’re getting to the point where it’s kind of chaotic and they’re having problems managing them and securing them.”
“We’re using all this mobile stuff in our business, now how do we manage it?”
Cory Fetter, PR Manager at Infusionsoft
“We’re doing a lot of exciting stuff with influencers and major media hubs. Something we’re doing now is the Main Street Forum with Infusionsoft. And we’re bringing together heads of technology companies or companies with a passion for small business success. And we’re inviting media to cover that. So we’re having private roundtable discussions in places like New York City, San Francisco, and Boston, striking up really great conversations about how we can better serve the small business community.”
Diane Helbig, Founder of Seize This Day Coaching
“I would say what is shaking in my business is that my second book is coming out on April 16, ‘Expert Insights.’ It’s ten episodes from my radio show. So I’m very excited about that. And what’s moving is that I am heading towards a membership site on my website that will be called the Small Business Reality Squad. So I will be offering the naked truth about what it takes to be successful in small business, for anyone who is brave enough to come along and listen.”
Melinda Emerson, Founder of Succeed as Your Own Boss
“I’m really excited to be launching my own mastermind program teaching people how to be their own boss, how to get free from a job. My book ‘Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months‘ just came out top of the year, second edition. So I’m really excited. It has all the social media stuff in it. How to have a great Website, how to have a content strategy and how to become a social media ninja like me.”
As the end drew near to another great Infusionsoft small business conference, it was good to again take the pulse of the small business community and to think about what the future holds. Hopefully, it will be a future of more great progress and development as entrepreneurs build on strong foundations to create the companies of their dreams.
Images: Small Business TrendsMore in: Infusionsoft