Today we’re talking with Infusionsoft Co-founder and Senior Vice President of Product Strategy, Scott Martineau. Infusionsoft provides all-in-one automation software for small business owners looking to grow. To date, the company serves 25,000 small businesses with 60,000 users and is closing in on $100 million in revenue.
Keypoint Takeaways: Committed to small business
Most small businesses need multiple platforms to handle their long list of needs from email marketing to contact management to online transactions. But instead of helping grow the business, the endless platform options usually bring chaos instead. Infusionsoft steps in to offer a single robust platform that saves small business owners time and gives them their lives back.
Small business life cycles
Scott intimately knows the challenges of small businesses. The average, mid-size company has its own IT staff and business resources at their disposal, whereas small business don’t have the time or manpower to set up a simple landing page. Infusionsoft responds to the need by offering templates and packages to get up and running quickly and streamline the marketing process from start to finish. Infusionsoft looks at everything their client needs from generating leads to converting them into sales, wowing customers, gaining repeat business and securing referrals.
The dark and dreary days
Infusionsoft didn’t seek out investors right off the bat. The early days proved dark and dreary with a raw, entrepreneurial spirit driving the team forward. It got so bad, Scott’s wife warned him spending $.49 on a Big Gulp at the 7/11 was killing their budget and he had to give it up. Scott calls those days “brutal” and was so desperate, Infusionsoft would regularly cut their prices and do double the work just to claw their way into the marketplace.
One day, a marketing coach in the mortgage industry who helped clients generate and convert leads called them out of the blue. “He was a total mess,” Scott says and Infusionsoft got to work helping him set-up a customized, automated marketing platform to help get him organized. Soon after, that client spread the word to other marketing experts about Infusionsoft. Eventually those group of experts collectively asked Scott and his team to start selling to their customers at events and conferences becoming the implementation tool for marketing experts.
The small business mecca
Most small business owners have already heard about ICON, Infusionsoft’s small business conference. Scott calls ICON the most energized business event in the country. During the last event, nearly 3,000 small business owners took over downtown Phoenix to come together and find marketing support, training and networking opportunities. Small business owners who feel misunderstood and alone can find connections that can last for years and help each other’s businesses.
One of Scott’s business philosophies is, “If we can get our head on straight and win the mental game, we’re halfway there at least, if not more.” He developed ICON as a way for people to get their heads on straight, see other business owners with success and get renewed faith and confidence.
Like any company, Infusionsoft struggled at different stages of their growth, and today Scott helps teach a “7 Stages of Small Business Success” to articulate challenges for each phase. In the beginning, Scott says moving forward was a huge mental game and staying stubborn enough to not quit. Capital and financing was an important part of their growth, as well as scaling.
But in order to keep scaling, Scott had to keep scaling and find the right people. He found himself frustrated from the pains in going from a tight, efficient operation and execution machine to a rapidly growing business. A leader needs to be able to relinquish control in order to grow. “If you want to play a bigger game, you have to be willing and able to scale.” Scott points out your company isn’t going to look the same as it did with working with just a few guys in the office where everyone knew everything.
Infusionsoft tries not to separate performance from culture in the workplace. Instead, performance and accountability are baked into their culture. Their office is transparent from top management all the way down to junior employees. Every employee has 3 key things to focus on each quarter that are quantifiable and reviewed. Scott finds their focus on accountability allows flexibility and lets people own their responsibilities, success and failures.
Initially, Infusionsoft was against taking on any capital and bootstrapped it all themselves. By the time they were pulling down nearly $7 million in revenue, Scott and his Co-founders felt they finally found stability and were hitting payroll every month. At one point they were even toying with the idea of growing it further with the goal of selling big.
It was around that $7 million mark that Michael Gerber sent out consultants to find software and came back with Infusionsoft as a recommendation. Scott and his team went to a conference Michael was speaking at and remembers him saying dreams fail because they’re too small, not because they’re too big.
Scott started to wonder why they weren’t out there trying to be the Microsoft for small businesses. Soon they went out and raised a round of financing and found some fantastic partners to guide them into the next stage of phenomenal growth.
“Banker to the Poor” – Against the advice of big bankers, Muhammad Yunus set-out to help the poverty stricken in Bangladesh with tiny loans with the idea credit is a basic human right. Grameen Bank now provides over $2.5 billion in micro-loans to 2 million families in rural Bangladesh, with 94% beign women and repayment rates of 100%.
Eric: Hi everyone. Welcome to this weeks’ edition of Growth Everywhere where we interview entrepreneurs and bring you personal and business growth tips. Today we have Scott Martineau who’s the co-founder of Infusionsoft, which is an automated marketing software for small businesses. Scott, how’re you doing today?
Scott: Fantastic. Really excited to be here.
Eric: Great to have you on the show. I’d like to hear a little more about your background and then we’ll go from there.
Scott: Great. Well, I’m one of three co-founders of the company called Infusionsoftware and we’ve been around about thirteen years now and we’re the leading providers of all in one marketing software producers for small business owner. Early on our company decided we wanted to be a company that was totally committed to small businesses for the long run and so this has always been a very important part of who we are.
And we’ve gone through several rounds of financing, which I’m sure we’ll be talking a little bit about that today, and every-time it’s been really important for us that we find partners that are in line with our vision around serving small businesses.
We started thirteen years ago. Today, we’ve got over 20,000 / 25,000 or so small businesses use our software platform and over 60,000 users. We’ve got about five-hundred employees today and we’re doing just about a hundred-million dollars in revenue, not quite, there, but on the brink of that, and having a good time trying to change the world.
Eric: Nice man! Congratulations. So, Infusionsoft, how does it exactly help people that are running start-ups for these small businesses?
Scott: Well, most small business owners, if they’re trying to be aggressive about growing, they’ll go out and pick out different software programs to maintain different parts of their business; email marketing, provider, there’s lots of those they can choose from, and a contact manager or a CRN system, that they’re doing transactions on line they’ll have any commerce product.
And we just realized the more these different applications become available to small business owners the more chaos it tends to bring into their lives. We’ve taken on the slightly insane challenge of trying to put everything in one place for the business owner. At the end of the day…the exciting thing; one of the reasons why we focus on the small business space; is that what we’re doing is actually saving hours and time and allowing business owner and their employees to have their lives back instead of being totally consumed by their business, which is usually people what people wake up and realize that they have after they start their company.
Eric: Got it. So, personal note on my side. We have infusionsoftware for our company, but we also have the Frankenstein other apps pieced together, just because I never had the time to learn infusionsoftware and we’ve had consultants come in. How does someone with no experience get Infusionsoft set up to be a well-oiled machine?
Scott: Good question. I think part of it’s important to recognize who are target is. We’re really looking for people that are serious about growing their business. We’re not really interested in someone who has, and I’m not saying this is who you are, by any means at all, but some people have an idea, but they don’t have a product created, they don’t have a customer base, they’re not really open to the idea of hiring employees or having a business, and Infusionsoft isn’t really suited for those people.
We’re after the business owners that are ready to grow, ready to increase in that way. I think the most important thing is when you get to that level of commitment Infusionsoft actually is a great…what we find as we engage with business owners, a lot of times they’re thinking through their systems and their processes for the first time. Our software can do a fantastic job at automating different processes in a business, but those processes sometimes need to be through and created initially. So, that’s one thing. And yeah, sometimes for some business owners it’s the right thing for them to bring on an expert that can handle some of the more technical aspects of their business. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a full-time employee.
Hiring consultants is also a great way for some people. It all kind of depends on what your technical aptitude is. We’ve come a long way in the ease of use of our software, I’ll tell you more today about the early beginning of our company, but we recognize one of the most important things for us has been investing in making our software easier to use. I think all of us want easier to use software to keep our lives less complicated. So that’s something that we’re working on.
Eric: Got it. So, say someone in the audience is interested in trying Infusionsoft where would they go to find these experts, these consultants?
Scott: You if go to InfusionSoft.com, you can click on the link for our marketplace, we’ve got an entire network of certified consultants that are trained on Infusionsoft, certified on Infusionsoft, and have built up businesses. Some of those people are specialized in a particular niche. Some of them work on our lists and you can find, in addition to those providers, there are also different marketing campaign templates, and different software add-ons. So, the marketplace is the best way to go at InfusionSoft.com.
Eric: Got it. Okay. And how does Infusionsoft compare to the Marketos of the world and also the HubSpots of the world. I know you guys are focused on small businesses, but what else kind of separates you guys?
Scott: That distinction is actually pretty significant. Those software applications are really powerful, but when you get into serving small businesses you recognize that there are just things that can’t be taken for granted. The average mid-size company, they clearly have an IT staff, they’ve usually got creative resources. Small businesses owners, in many cases, they don’t have that. They don’t have an IT staff, maybe one person, and creating something as simple as a landing page or button is not something they really want to spend time and energy doing.
So, we are really focused on making sure we have the right templates and get things as much as we can to where the business owner can come in and push the go button, make a couple of tweaks, push the go button and off to the races. And I would say that another big difference, when you get into the bigger companies, they tend to think about CRN marketing automation primarily before leading up to the sale.
At Infusionsoft we’ve created we call life-cycle marketing…We’re not the only ones that teach it and talk about it, but really Infusionsoft is designed to help the entire life-cycle; from all the things you do to generate leads to warm and convert those leads into customers, how you ‘wow’ that customer, and what you do to make sure they become a repeat customer that you’re getting referrals, and all this we built through a very integrative platform.
We have what I think is one of the best dragon drop campaign builders where you can start with a template that you can visually see exactly what process we’re going to help automate in your business. So, I’d say that our nature is that we focus on small business and we cover end to end. Those are some pretty big selling points for the small businesses.
Eric: Nice. Awesome! Your first one-thousand customers, how did you guys go about acquiring them?
Scott: The first few days of, or the first few years of our company were pretty dark and dreary. I remember having a couple, I think they were two different stints. We didn’t go out and get financing at first, and I remember having two different stints where we went for four or five months with zero income. It was brutal. I think in those early days what really kept us going was…it was kind of a raw entrepreneurial zeal.
We just wanted to do our thing, you know. In those very early days we would custom software development, which was a horrible business to be in. You know, you’ve got to sell every single customer and we were so desperate we would cut our price way down, we’d do twice the amount of work and get paid less. I mean it was bad.
So, one of our custom clients that approached us, like we were all sitting around one day; we tell this story all the time. It’s Friday afternoon and we were kind of winding down the day and the phone rang and Clate, who’s now our CEO, at the time he was kind of our, he did basically everything but build hours in our customer developer, he was also the sales team, so he picked up the phone and this guy on the other end of the line he blurts out “I have pain. Can you help me?” And Clate is like, “I don’t know. Is this one of our customers that we screwed up with?” He didn’t know who it was. It turned out this guy was a marketing coach in the mortgage industry. He taught loan officers and mortgage companies, this is in the height of the mortgage boom, how to generate leads, how to follow up with those leads, how to market better.
And he was a total mess, so he came in and we started building stuff for him and as it turns out he had been trying to find a bunch of software solutions that would work to implement some of these more sophisticated marketing techniques and he just couldn’t find anything and stubbed his toe a lot. So, we started building things for him. He started bringing in some of his other marketing coaches that were in different industries.
He brought in Joe Polish, who at the time was in the carpet cleaning industry, and a few other people and pretty soon all of these industry specific marketing experts were using our software and totally were on fire. And they sort of collectively said, “Hey, why don’t you start selling this stuff to our customers?”
So we would go to their marketing seminars where they have all these people getting up on the stage talking about different marketing techniques and we’d get up on stage and we would sell our software as a solution for helping automate all those things that they were learning and we actually made it possible for them to do that. That was really the launch pad for our company was being in place where you had business owners who were trying to learn better marketing techniques and we became the implementation solution for them. It was really a fun time in the business and it was a beautiful thing.
Eric: Cool. Nice. Sounds like…There’s two stints where you said that you went without income, right?
Eric: Wow. Okay. Were you married at the time? I mean, how did you deal with that whole scenario?
Scott: Yeah, so Clate was married and I was married, Eric was still single and Andy had just barely gotten married. Clate had a couple children, I had one, and it was just rough, man. I remember one time coming home and my wife and I were talking through the finances and she’s like, “Scott, you’ve got to stop going to Seven-Eleven to buy the drinks, cuz it’s killing our budget.” And I’m like, this is like when the Triple Big Gulp was like forty-nine cents. Things were just so tight.
Cherise and Andie and Beth really were super supportive of us even though they didn’t have a good reason to at the time. They really accepted the fact that, we’d come home and they’d say “When are we actually going to start seeing revenue.” We’re like, “Hey, we’re going to get there, we’re right there.” And it’s a difficult thing. It’s definitely a partnership. We have our three partners that started the company, but our wives we recognize have been there all the way and are totally instrumental.
Eric: Wow! Incredible! Infusion Con, that’s the Infusionsoft Conference. Can you tell us a little about that?
Scott: Yeah, ICON. We’ve changed the name of Infusion Con to ICON because it really has become the small business mecca and it is the most energizing small business in the country and in fact we’ll actually be expanding internationally as well, soon. But that’s the time where people come together, Infusionsoft customers and other small business owners gather and I think we had twenty-five hundred, approaching three-thousand people in Phoenix where actually took over downtown Phoenix this year.
We feel like we’re just getting started. It’s a place where business owners who often feel like they are misunderstood, they’re kind of out there alone, but they come together and there’s a combination of a ton of training and the most amazing networking and connections that really last for years. We see people that will connect at ICON and help each other’s businesses for years to come.
So, it’s just really amazing and I think that that energy…you know, one of my philosophies about business is that if we can get our head on straight and win the mental game we’re half-way there at least if not more and ICON is one of those things that allows people to get their head back on straight. We can look around and see other people having success and renewed hope, renewed energy, and go back to the [?][five bears] with a totally new mind-set about, it’s really about confidence is what it’s all about. So, yeah, it’s a fantastic conference where the energy level is just palpable. It’s not like any other conference we’ve been to.
Eric: Got it. And I imagine there has to be some pretty crazy things you have to deal with in terms of growing a conference. What are some struggles you have to deal with?
Scott: One of the things we’re doing now is logistically and thankfully the Phoenix Convention Center I think will be a place where we can be for many years to come. But we just started running out of space. There weren’t very many conference centers that could handle it. There were logistical problems; filling up this hotel to quickly, the room locks are gone, people have to travel for five minutes or ten minutes to get to the conference, which is lame. So, I think that’s been an issue.
We really want to make ICON something that is not just attractive to Infusionsoft customers because the content and the experience is so powerful. So, that’s something that we’re evolving. But I would say ICON is kind of a sweet spot for us. I think we do a great job of putting [together and] event that’s come naturally and it’s kind of the pinnacle of the year for all the employees. We try to get all the employees out where they can just rub shoulders with our customers and other business owners and it’s just a great time. I don’t know if there are too many problems with it.
Eric: Cool! So, for the audience, how much does it cost for the normal person to go to ICON?
Scott: It was really expensive, less than a thousand dollars. I don’t even know what the early bird prices – you can probably get into ICON for $500. It’s really a nominal fee.
Eric: Nice. Cool. My understanding now is, aside from the Infusionsoft stuff, there’s a lot of different content right? What are some examples?
Scott: Yeah, so we have a full…I talked about life-cycle marketing before, we had a full life-cycle marketing track where we take apart every aspect of the customer life cycle and help you put together strategies. Like this year I talked about wowing customers and I shared several different systems that people could put in place to make sure that when you get a new customer you have absolute confidence that you’re going to be building a system in your business that will wow every single one of those initially.
You know, you’ve got that little window of time where you can really make an impact on your new customer. And then, what can you do to make sure you’ve got an on-going system wowing your customers? Then systematically checking in to make sure you’re doing well with your customers via some sort of survey and leveraging results of that. When you have somebody who’s saying, “I would gladly refer you”, that’s an opportune time to reach out and get a referral. We take the entire customer life-cycle and give some amazing content around all those things.
For developers, our add-on community has a whole track as well that they can go to, to understand the latest and greatest with API’s that are being developed. They can see examples of what other people are doing. They can sit around and code together, and so that’s really amazing. Then we obviously have software for training tracks for Infusionsoft customers where they can learn different aspects of basic campaign builder. We’ll show people how pick a template, and tweak it to the campaign builders.
Those are the break- out sessions and we always have fantastic key-note speakers. We’ve had Seth Godin, who said he’d come this year, and some other great speakers as well. So, all around we pack it full and people go home tired, but they go home renewed.
Eric: Got it. Renewed is good. Obviously you’ve dealt, we’ve talked about some struggles that you had to deal with, especially that four to five months with no income. What’s one other big struggle you had to face while growing Infusionsoft?
Scott: I think the struggles that we face are different at every single phase. We’re like every other company. In fact Clate and I we teach a course called the Elite Forum. It’s for people that are sitting around a million dollars and trying to go to ten-million dollars. And part of that course we developed a seven stages of small business success where we articulate the specific challenges that people have at each phase. And our business has been no different in the early days. It was obviously a huge mental game just staying stubborn enough to not quit, was the number one thing, right?
Capital and financing was an important part. We actually weren’t going to take any capital, I can share with you the story later if you want, what happens to decide that. And then when it started to be time to scale there are some interesting challenges that come with that. How do we go hire the right people? How many people should we hire, when should we hire? And how do we bring these people in a way that allows our operation to be fluid and results accountable.
I think the most important thing for a business owner is to have the tenacity to be constantly iterating, regardless of the phase of the business that you’re in, to be constantly iterating around what’s the biggest thing that we need to be attacking right now? Where do we have gaps we need to fill in? And so we created a process very early on.
Clate actually learned this at one of the boards he was on. It was kind of an oral tradition that was passed on by, the guy he knew on the board, I think it was the son of former Kellogg CEO, I think that’s what it was, Kellogg’s CEO. And so we have a very rhythmic quarterly planning process that we installed pretty early into our company where every quarter we go off site and get away from all the current cares and concerns.
We have a series of seven exercises that we go through that allow us to get the raw material in our business up and in context, floating around, and it’s in that setting we go create our quarterly priorities. We do an annual version of it and we also do a quarterly versions of that. So we come out with this renewed quarterly focus and vision. And that really has helped us because as I said, all these different phases we have different issues that we’re challenging, or challenged with and that strategic planning process has been the constant that helps us to identify those things and put in place the action plans.
It’s hard to summarize the thirteen years of lessons that quickly, but that’s a pretty good overview. I think maybe one other comment I’ll make, I read in a book once, Peter Drucker wrote this really cool analogy because as the company grew, I find it frustrating to go from a really tight efficient operation, where we were an execution machine and you start to grow and as a leader you need to be able to relinquish control to the right people in the right way so that they can grow, but we didn’t have…It was just frustrating for me because I kind of sought that initial efficiency that we had.
Peter Drucker had a great analogy that helped me just calm down a little bit and he said, “Look, the difference between an amoeba…” He compared business to and amoeba vs. a human being. He said, and I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this analogy; the amoeba, all the energy it intakes goes to two things reproduction and forward progress. Now, if you compare that with a human, the human body is so much more complex and about 65%, I think it was about 65% of all our intake of energy goes to just sustaining life. Keeping the thing alive and it leaves 35% to go make forward progress.
I think obviously the human is capable of far more powerful things than an amoeba, but I think it’s an important thing for business owners who are seeing the frustrations that come with the beginning to scale, maybe some efficiency gains that feel like you’re losing efficiency gains. If you want to pay a bigger game you’ve got to be willing to scale. You’ve got to be able to scale. And sometimes that means it’s not going to look the same as it did when you were a few people sitting around an office and everybody knew and everybody had perfect context about what was going on. So, for me personally that was a difficult thing was to just accept that and embrace and realize we’re going to do some cool things as a complicated human being and let’s get on board with that and stop fighting against it.
Eric: Got it. So it’s sounds like as you continue to relinquish this control there has to come, you have to trust people more, but how do you…I assume you’ve had some issues with holding people accountable initially, so what did you learn from that?
Scott: One of the really cool parts about our culture is we try not to separate performance from culture. We actually have a thing in our culture and backed into that is performance and the idea of accountability. And Clate brought, if you look above his office, I’m not sure if it’s still there, but there was, I think it actually is, “Where performance is measured, performance improves; and where performance is measured and reported it improves dramatically; and where it’s measured and reported publicly it improves exponentially.”
We have always had a very open, from the top down, so we look at all the company metrics, it’s very open book and the company knows what our targets were and what we hit and what we didn’t hit and that goes all the way down to every single employee in the company. We have a system of, we call our big three where every employee owns three key things and they’re quantifiable so metrics can be tied to it and every single quarter we’re evaluated on those and they can shift within a quarter, but the point is everybody knows exactly what the three things are they can be doing to drive the most value for the company and we’ve really systematized that and baked it right into the core of what Infusionsoftware is all about.
And by the way, that is an extremely difficult process to go through. It puts an immense burden on our managers to make… if you give a manager a team where everybody’s doing the same thing it’s a little bit easier because you kind of figure out one that works for everybody, but we don’t really stop there. Every single manager has got to make sure that they and their employees have a clear set of metrics, the big three, that are agreed on, that are driving the performance every single day.
That’s been huge, because you know we don’t have a culture where somebody’s breathing down your neck and we’re super anal about stuff and if I’m out throwing a football in a football field the big three become the thing that let me, as the person throwing the football, know that I’m okay to be out there doing that because I’m pressing my metrics and the people walking by seeing that,8 they don’t have to be worried, why aren’t they on the internet, and so it creates…Actually the focus on performance and accountability is actually what allows for some of the flexibility in the culture and some of the, you know, you let people own stuff. And you let them act accordingly.
Eric: Cool! And how often do you communicate these metrics? What things do managers have to be constantly, like repetition, communication, so it re-enforces it in their mind? I guess that’s my question, how often is this communicated?
Scott: We actually have a software system that we use for communication between employees and their managers. At a minimum every employee and manager sitting down to review the performance for the last quarter on the big three and to recalibrate. I would say on average, probably every quarter, you take one of the big three and there’s either a slight adjustment to it or you swapped out for something new. That’s just kind of the rate of change.
So, at minimum the recalibration happens then, but really that big three that’s on a weekly basis, that’s what every employee is focused on to make sure they’re jiving the values. So, it’s an ever present thing and it gets out of whack and it’s not clearly driving the most important thing for the business then we just recalibrate and make quarter recalibrations, no problem at all.
Eric: Okay. Cool! Sounds good. So, let’s go back to, you talked about decided to take on capital Why did you guys eventually decide to take on capital?
Scott: Yeah, that’s a fun story. So, we were pretty against it initially. We boot strapped and we were in-between doing three and a half million and seven million revenue and actually, now that you understand the dark early days, this was actually a really great time for us. We knew we were hitting payroll every month, there was stability, life was really dandy, you know.
And we had this vision, Clate, Eric, and I had this vision about letting go of the company and selling it for a certain amount of money and we went to this event, we had studied Michael Gerber a lot as our company grew, and Michael Gerber had two different consultants that he set out to go find software that he could use for his company and they both came back and they were convinced they had found the right software.
One of them had found this software called Manage Pro CRN and the other one found this thing called Infusionsoft and they were debating and come to find out we had gone through a name change, so they had both found us, but under different branding. We were really excited because Michael Gerber had been kind of a mentor, we hadn’t met him at that point, but he had been a mentor to us through his book, “The E-myth” is the book that we had really studied. At the time he was doing this event called, “In the Dreaming Room”. We went to the website it was like, everything was white, and he’s on the page in a little white suit, there’s like clouds and rainbows, and we’re like, “What is this? This is a little weird” but hey, it’s a couple of days with Gerber let’s go see what this is like.”
So, we went out there and we walked into this event, it was amazing. He walks out on stage, there’s probably seventy people there or sixty people there, really nicely set up room, in Napa Valley I think is where we were, and he comes out on stage and sits down in the stool and says, “Alright. In front of you have this blank pad of paper…” and there’s bundle of markers and he says, “I want you to start with a blank piece of paper and a beginner’s mind I want you to articulate your dream. Don’t even worry about the business, you have the day, don’t worry about anything.” Anyway we get into this event and everybody’s kind of looking around like, is this guy serious. Well, he walks across the stage and we’re all sitting there and finally everybody kinds of starts writing, some people were drawing and writing, whatever.
For two days he brought people up on stage and he just beat the crap out of them. I remember the very first guy, he got up and he’s like, “Yeah, I’m in the lead pipe business.” And Gerber kind of chuckles and “How did you get in that?” and he said, “Well, I was in Texas and this guy from California called me up and said, ‘Hey you ought to come join me so I went” and Gerber starts laughing, “Okay, so the reason you got into the lead pipe business the past twelve years is because a guy called you from California and says, hey you wanna come do this?” and he’s kind of like, “Yeah” and he’s laughing at this guy and everybody’s feeling bad for him, but then he starts to uncover what the real meaning behind this guy’s life and what he really wants to accomplish. And it was really cool.
So, for us for a lot of people he was saying, “Hey, kill the business you’re in now. Just re-imagine yourself and put yourself in a place where you’re out to accomplish something that has a dream that is so massive that it will keep you engaged.” His argument was a lot of people fail not because their dream is too big, but because it’s too small. There’s nothing. He wasn’t accepting people saying the meaning behind what I’m doing is I want to make a bunch of money and sell a company. So, for us we’re like, “Oh, man what is…” we really had a great time of introspection and it was in that moment that we recognized the core of what we were about to accomplish was actually about empowering entrepreneurs and taking that experience that we had gone through and we felt like we had a fantastic opportunity to change the course of small business forever.
I remember coming back and Clate and I were going to lunch and I said, “Dude why aren’t we just saying that we’re going to be like a Micro-soft in terms of our impact of small business.” And he’s like, “You know what? It’s because we’re chicken.” And something happened in that moment and that few weeks where we said, “Alright, this is a bigger game. We have a bigger responsibility in the world and to do that we’re going to need to be capitalized differently?
So, at that point the trajectory changed and we went out and we raised financing with Moore, David, Al which is where Jeffrey Moore, he’s on the board there and was an important connection for us, and has been a fantastic partner, and we’ve since gone through a couple rounds of financing, Signal Peake Ventures and New Edison, Goldman Sachs most recently came in…Anyway, it’s just been fantastic and that sometimes that process for people is painful, bringing in investors and giving up control and we’ve been really blessed to have fantastic partners.
We’ve needed them and the thing that we’re out to accomplish is really big. So, I’m excited that we have twenty-five thousand small business owners using the software, but I think it’s just a drop in the bucket. We’re just barely getting started, in my opinion and there’s millions of business owners that need our help and those businesses that are trying to get serious about firming up the company; deep our company’s blood stream is a passion to help those people out.
Eric: Got it. Okay. Awesome man! What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to your twenty-five year old self?
Scott: Well, I think one of the things that happened early on is I started getting being addicted to this culture of execution and performance, like I was talking about earlier. Because when we started we had to be…we were the operators, something had to get done and we had to do it, and that sort of became addictive and I think if I was to do it over again; I’d love to have my hair back, that’d be really cool. Look at your hair, you’ve got locks of love, look at that.
Eric: I’d love to share it with you.
Scott: But I think I would say, “Dude, you really need to be relinquishing control more and you need to be thinking about building years and stop worrying about the person that’s the hero. There’s no good in that. It doesn’t scale. I’ve observed when a business owner is stuck on being the hero and at being at the epicenter of everything in their company that one of two things will happen:
And too many entrepreneurs state that they are everything and it just doesn’t work that way. The ways companies scale and grow is you go find amazing people and create a really high bar and you give those people ownership and you hold them accountable. So, I think I would give myself a dose of relinquish more control and give myself a big lecture about that.
Eric: Cool! I’d love to hear one of those lectures one day. I could use that. What’s one productivity hack you could share with the audience.
Scott: I don’t know if I consider myself a productivity master, but I think for me, to be totally honest buy a set of Bose headphones and stick them next to your desk, you’ve got to have a way of getting into the zone. What I do, I have a system that I learned at a company called Strategic Coach where I have different types of days during the week and during my work week I have focus days and I have buffer days.
My buffer days are the days where I get all my work done, I have meetings with other people. Everything that I need to do so that I can have two hard core focus days. My focus days are all about my top priorities and getting into the zone. And I’ve found that to be a fantastic system. I know that on Tuesday and Thursday when I come in I’ve got…I’m dialed in and I execute and perform. So, that may not be the perfect system for everybody, but get a good set of headphones and carve out time to be in the zone and prioritize the most important stuff then and let your other days be the days to handle the urgent, the fires, and all that stuff.
Eric: I think you bring up a good point there because people, everyone has their own set processes, but it all depends on the kind of company that you’re at and the stage that you’re at too. So, I think that’s the key take-away for me at least.
Scott: Yeah. Yeah.
Eric: Final question from my side, what’s one must read book you would recommend to the audience?
Scott: I get asked that question a lot. I don’t know if I have a great answer, but there’s a book that I read, it might seem a little bit off the wall, but Michael Gerber actually shared this one with us. It’s called “Banker to the Poor”. And “Banker to the Poor” is a story about Muhammad Unis and the way he created micro-financing. And he tells the story of being an economics professor, walking out on the streets and seeing these people dying and he’s asking himself, “Why am I in here teaching economics if we can’t even get people on our streets to be self-sustaining?” and so forth.
And he really became the father of a really amazing micro-financing revolution. But the reason I like that book, even though I love micro-financing, it’s not just about that, it’s about the evolution that he went through, the endurance process that he went through. He would take his ideas to the banks and they would laugh at him in scorn and he would turn around and come up with another iteration and they finally, through however many iterations, he came up with in his model, that just totally blew people’s minds, it wasn’t even feasible.
However would you get banks to lend money to destitute women in Bangladesh? Nobody would do that. I just thing the process of running a business is so much like that. Whatever your thing is that people are laughing at you in scorn, saying it’s not possible, you can iterate faster. If you can keep your head on straight and stay stubborn and work hard, then you get past it. It’s the weak-mindedness that comes into us and get the plan ahead games, just giving up too soon, that causes people to fail.
Eric: Got it. Alright. So everyone, Scott Martineau from Infusionsoft. I definitely want to have you on the show again sometime soon, but thanks for joining us.
Scott: Thanks a lot man. It was fun to be here.
Scott: Alright. Adios.
Eric Siu (@ericosiu) is the CEO at Single Grain, a digital marketing agency that focuses on paid advertising and content marketing. He contributes regularly to Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, Forbes and more.