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Small Business

#Icon14 Post 1: The State of Small Business

The Kahuna business development team spent last week in hot and sunny Phoenix for the Infusionsoft Conference.

The trip was a tremendous experience and we took a ton away from the event.

We had the opportunity to:

  • Hear from inspiring speakers
  • Learn pracitical tools we can implement right away in our business
  • Meet some great people
  • Benefit from some time away from the day-to-day routine

As is often the case on trips like this, we came back with information overload. We’ve been decompressing and distilling all the knowledge we took in and are attempting to apply the lessons learned.

As a former reporter, I took as many notes as I possibly could at the conference. Writing things down is a great way for me to internalize the knowledge I take in.

I think nothing is worse than hearing a great talk or reading a great book, then being really excited about it for a few days, and then immediately forgetting it all and seeing no true results from the information.

So in order for me to make sure I go through all the information and do something with it, I’m going to write a quick blog post summarizing about 10 of the talks I heard at the conference. I’m doing it for myself to help me remember everything, but I think a lot of other entrepreneurs can benefit from taking in these summaries. So I’ll be sharing one per week here on the blog.

The first talk I want to look into was the very first one at the conference, the opening “State of Small Business” by Infusionsoft CEO Clate Mask.

The keynote soon to follow Mask would be given by Simon Sinek, and Mask took a page out of Sinek’s book and began the conference looking at the “Why” of small business.

A survey taken by Infusionsoft of small business owners determined that nearly 80% of small business owners believe passion is essential for success. Another 72% shared they made the jump into entrepreneurship because they desired control over their careers.

These statistics are not really surprising as control and passion are really at the heart of entrepreneurship and small business.


Mask shared several stories and case studies of successful Infusionsoft users who put their passion on full display in what they do. Nearly all small businesses started with a passion of some kind. You have a skill, a connection or a story you want to share with the world. It’s almost never purely about making money.

One of the more encouraging components to the conference, is that it was not purely sunshine and rainbows. The Infusionsoft owners as well as many of the top marketers all shared they had reached some form of rock bottom at one time or another.

“We spend three years in survival mode,” Mask said. “It was so hard. We fought every day and just focused on surviving that day. Every day we survived success was more likely.”

Becoming aware of the reality of the challenge and fight makes the passion all the more the forefront. The passion is what allows small businesses to continue forward. The passion allows us to do more than we would have ever called realistic.

There’s often nothing realistic or logical about entrepreneurship.


Along with the passion, entrepreneurs typically make the leap into doing their own thing, because they want the freedom and autonomy of being their own boss.

Our CEO, Frank, often says, “I work 60 hours a week so I don’t have to work 40.”

It’s not about the amount of work or the difficulty of the work, it’s about doing the work you want to do, when and where you want to do it, with who you want to do it with.

Never forgetting how hard it is, it’s also very real that you have opportunity to take risks and challenge yourself as a small business owner in ways most employees can’t imagine.


In order to experience true control over your life as a small business owner, ironically you have to master letting go.

“Entrepreneurship is a study in the art of letting go,” Mask repeated a few times throughout the conference.

If you’re trying to do it all, chances are you’ll never get anywhere. Thinking back to the “Why” in entrepreneurship, it goes back to passion.

The passion and skill of an entrepreneur are about their product, their service and the relationships they build. In order to grow to the level they need to, there has to be a willingness to find the right help.

Infusionsoft, like Kahuna Accounting, seeks to make some of the business tasks easier, so the business owner can focus where they are strongest.

“It’s important to remember that you are experts,” Mask told the crowd of over 3,000. “You can do things that nobody else can – make that your focus.”


The opening talk ranged all around within an overview of what it means to be in small business. Mask set the stage for the conference with a “We’re all in this together tone,” that really came through in the interactions and energy throughout the event.

To summarize his opening message, he thanked the small businesses in attendance for their generosity and willingness to give.

At the heart of entrepreneurship is giving.

It’s providing something of value to others.

It’s being willing to be vulnerable enough to put yourself out there.

It’s risking failure for the possibility of helping some people.

The best businesses are the ones who are thinking not about themselves, but about the people they serve.

It’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone, but when you are passionate, willing to fail and willing to be generous, you can definitely succeed as a small business.




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