Growing up you probably had lots of role models. They could have been a teacher, a grandparent, or that older kid down the street. They were people you looked up to, admired and respected. They gave you an example of something to aspire to.
There are many similarities between growing up and starting your first business. You learn a lot. Making new discoveries and new mistakes every day. That’s why I believe every growing business should have a company to look up to and be inspired by. A business role model. A company that’s been successful in a way you want to be. So hopefully one day you’ll be able to play the role model to another great up-and-coming company.
When we first started Infusionsoft, we knew we wanted to be a market-leading business laser-focused on serving small business. We wanted to empower business owners by giving them a solution that radically changed how they approached sales and marketing. For us, it was easy to see who our business role model would be -- Intuit QuickBooks.
Intuit’s QuickBooks division has done for small business accounting and finance what we aim to do for sales and marketing. That makes them the perfect business role model. Analyzing how Intuit QuickBooks has been so successful led us to some great insights for growing a built-to-last company aimed squarely at small business. For anyone looking to serve the small business market, here are three key principles I believe both Intuit QuickBooks and Infusionsoft follow in order to be successful.
1. A total commitment to small business.
If you’re going to really serve small business, then this is the most important attribute for your company. If you look at Intuit QuickBooks, it never attempted to move upstream. And that’s extremely atypical of the software industry. They see the massive opportunity to empower small-business owners to do business more effectively with their software. A lot of other companies argue they are committed to serving SMBs (small and medium businesses), but in reality they are primarily focused on helping the “m” businesses. If you want to effectively serve the small business market, you should never utter the word “medium.”
Even “small business” is not a one-size-fits-all category because there are distinct stages to growing a company, each with their own challenges. We're focused on companies under 25 employees, and our real sweet spot is two to 10 employees. Intuit focuses more heavily on solopreneurs, but they have a huge play in the 25 and under shops as well. Having this extreme dedication to true small business is the only way we’ve been able to take the time and really understand what they need, and how we can meet and exceed their expectations.
2. A focus on simplicity and accessibility.
If you ask any Intuit QuickBooks customer what they love about the product you’re bound to hear them tell you how easy to use it is, among many other praises. QuickBooks has done a brilliant job at making a product anyone can use. And millions of people now use it. At Infusionsoft we are working every day to make our software more intuitive and easier to use, designing it in a way that delights our customers.
We are acutely aware that small business owners don’t start a business to spend all of their time doing marketing and accounting in the back office. They start a business to do what they love, and frankly don’t have the time to dedicate a ton of resources to marketing. Our job is to simplify, streamline and automate the process of sales and marketing for our customers. That’s why it’s so important to us to simplify the process of growing sales into something any entrepreneur with drive and passion can use to make their business dreams a reality.
3. Strong partner networks.
Every small business is unique. From the tens of thousands of customers we’ve served, we understand the commonalities among small businesses, but our partners help with understanding all of the subtle nuances of each and every one. And they help us reach customers that could benefit from automated sales and marketing -- customers who we otherwise wouldn’t have known about. That’s why we rely so heavily on our network of trusted partners, and why they are instrumental to our success.
If you look at the relationship with accountants Intuit QuickBooks has built over the years and how they have created more of a service channel than a sales channel, you’ll see how we are taking a very similar approach with how we reach and serve small businesses. It’s a big undertaking, but having good relationships with your partners are what get your foot in the door and can make or break a business.
Currently we have 35,000 customers with more than 1,000 partners and 650 employees. Our vision for Infusionsoft is by 2030 being a multi-billion-dollar public company serving five million-plus customers with more than 100,000 partners and over 15,000 employees. To accomplish a feat of such magnitude, it’s nice to have good role models. And Intuit QuickBooks is a great role model. What’s your vision, and who is your role model to get there?