Save $100 on Let’s Grow Summit! Early bird pricing ends 7/31 so register now.

The Profit

Marcus Lemonis, star of The Profit, joins Clate and Scott to talk about his background, how he helps struggling small businesses, and how to define success. He also discusses what ICON attendees can expect from his keynote at Keap's annual conference.

iTunes button
Google Play button

Podcast summary

Marcus Lemonis of CNBC’s The Profit joins Keap founders Clate Mask and Scott Martineau on The Small Business Success Podcast to talk about his passion for small business and helping struggling small businesses across the nation turn their businesses around and find success.

With an open mind, an open heart, and a tough attitude, Lemonis works together with—not for— small business owners to transform their business. While it’s easy to temporarily solve a problem with a check, or having someone do it for you, Lemonis works side-by-side with struggling small businesses to teach them how to fix the problems themselves. Together, they create repeatable processes that are relevant to their consumers and make people human again because small business is personal.

Small business tips from Marcus Lemonis

Full transcript

Speaker 1: Do you have a question that you want us or an expert to answer? If you have questions about your small business, submit them at

Scott M.: Welcome everybody to this episode of The Small Business Success podcast. I'm Scott [Martino 00:00:22].

Clate Mask: And I'm Clate Mask. We're co founders at Fusion Soft, and we have a really exciting guest with us today that most everybody knows. [00:00:30] But there may be a few souls who've been hiding under rocks who don't know. We're not sure, but Marcus Lemonis of The Profit, or I should say The Prophet. Welcome to The Small Business Success podcast.

Marcus L.: How are you guys?

Clate Mask: We're doing great.

Scott M.: Fantastic.

Marcus L.: I want to find those people that are under a rock and thank them because that means there's a few less business come save my business applications coming over. [crosstalk 00:00:56]. I'm okay with it.

Clate Mask: Yeah, [00:01:00] yeah. You probably get a few of those. Why don't you maybe just summarize briefly? I think most all of our listeners know who you are and what you do, but why don't you give people just a quick summary of it?

Marcus L.: Look. You know one of the things that I find in this country is that small business had historically been underserved and undernourished. A lot of big companies, specifically big banks like to talk about the fact that they are the champion on small business. American Express launches a small [00:01:30] business week. I really decided that I need to figure out what I was going to do with my life and give back. I had a rough childhood, so I decided to find something that I thought would redeem that. Small business was the thing that I felt that I could give the most back to the community and give the most back, and more importantly make some money. So what I do on The Profit is [00:02:00] I take struggling businesses that reach out for help. I get about 40,000 applications a year.

Clate Mask: Awesome.

Marcus L.: I pick 24 businesses a year. I got into those small businesses with an open mind, an open heart, and a tough attitude, and a tough book. My goal is not to just turn the business around, not to just tell them what they're doing wrong, but to more importantly stand side by side with them, make an investment, have [00:02:30] skin in the game, and work to transform the business with them, not for them.

Clate Mask: Yeah.

Marcus L.: That's really important distinction. It's with people, not for people.

Clate Mask: That is awesome. Well, thanks for sharing that. I love your point about championing small business success. We talk about that all the time at Keap. It's in our soul and what we do. So, it should come as no surprise to our listeners that this is why we're bringing you to Icon because that's who you are as a small business [00:03:00] success champion. So, thank you for what you do. Your work, it's near and dear to us. It's what we love to do as well. We love watching what you do on TV. I think maybe if you want to take a second, because people know you're going to be at Icon. What should they expect? What's maybe something that's going to be different than what they're thinking about and what's something that maybe will be similar to what they might see on The Profit?

Marcus L.: Well, Icon was a perfect platform for me to meet [00:03:30] small business owners who are very much int he process in improving themselves and improving their customer experience in their own business. But I think when you find people like that, they're also looking at improving themselves internally. It's my belief that in order to be a solid business owner, you have to be a solid citizen, too.

Clate Mask: Yeah.

Marcus L.: So most people that go ... Most people that I participate in events with come expect [inaudible 00:03:57] about how to make money, how to get [00:04:00] rich. It feel like a Holiday Inn Saturday seminar. What I'm here to talk to people about is what are the things that I believe ultimately creates success for you as an individual. But what works for me and giving people advice that I think could work for them. The number one thing that we're going to talk about isn't numbers. It isn't percentages. It isn't dollars and cent. It's how people function, and that includes [00:04:30] the participant that's listening, how they function, what motivates them, and how to get people to think differently. It is not a motivational rah, rah pep rally. It is not a get rich quick scheme. And it is very interactive. So when people participate in an event with me, they can expect to be engaged in the event, not listening to somebody talk for an hour. So they should come prepared to answer questions. They should come prepared to be vulnerable. They should come prepared [00:05:00] to disclose their successes, but more importantly their failures. They should come to feel like they're going to learn something for themselves and from there people.

Scott M.: Love it. Marcus, I want to ask ... I'm seeing a pattern here. You said when you work with businesses, one of the principles that you exposed is that, "I work with them." You're invested and you're working with them, not for them. I love hearing that from the perspective of Icon. You're going to expect the same thing. Tell us more about that. Where does that come from? What's behind it for you?

Marcus L.: You know it's [00:05:30] very easy to solve a problem with a check, at least a temporary problem. It's very easy to go in and do the work for people. But ultimately, they have to learn how to do it for themselves. Typically, it's an attitude adjustment, but more often, people have not had the benefit of being exposed to certain fundamentals. So when I go into these businesses, it's about creating a process that's repeatable. It's about creating a perspective on a [00:06:00] product that is relevant to consumers. And more importantly, it's about creating a thought process around individuals and people that make people human again-

Clate Mask: Yes.

Marcus L.: ... and make them real, and really break it down to the most common principle. None of us that are participating in this podcast or listening to this podcast have all the answers, I for sure don't. None [00:06:30] of us have been without failure. I've had a lot of failure. None of us have been without mistakes. I make more mistakes than I do not. But it's being comfortable with that and learning from it, and being able to take those mistakes and do something with them. I don't want to give too much about what we talk about, but I will share a lot about myself and surprise some people with things that I've been through, and even about my personality. Most people think [00:07:00] I'm wildly confident. I have very little confidence, and I have high anxiety. Most people are shocked by that. We'll talk about how I deal with that, and how I don't think it will ever go away. We want to address those same fears that other people have that they're not willing to talk about-

Clate Mask: Love it.

Marcus L.: ... like they're ability to change.

Clate Mask: That is awesome. So many great things there. Your point about you don't just solve the problem with a check. Checks are great bandaids, and too many entrepreneurs think that the money solves the problem, when the reality is there are people issues. There [00:07:30] are process issues. There are product issues, and you touched on each of those. So, thank you for sharing that. I think you've given our audience a great teaser into what to expect at Icon. We feel just like you in so many ways about how small business works through the growth of the individual, and the growth of the people. And-

Marcus L.: Right.

Clate Mask: ... I just love the points you make. Like we say all the time, we love small business because it's personal. You'll find at Icon, we'll have thousands of attendees there who feel that way. They're in it. [00:08:00] They come and they will bring their authenticity and their vulnerability and their desire to roll up their sleeves and work hard. We're excited to have you share with them and engage in that work with them to help them grow their businesses more successfully. So, thank you so much. This has been kind of a special episode of The Small Business Success podcast. Scott, did you want to sneak something in there before I wrap it up?

Scott M.: No, let's wrap it. We'll keep talking.

Marcus L.: I just want to add one last thing.

Clate Mask: You bet.

Marcus L.: We want to be very careful in life in how we define [00:08:30] success. I think our culture has told us that success has a look to it, and it has a feel to it, and it has a size and a shape and a color to it. It actually has none of those things. People, when they come to Icon, they should be prepared to break that mold of what they think that is, and really try to leave there with a definition of what it means to them, not what it means to other people or what they think it means to other people. [00:09:00] It is about taking a minute and understanding how to improve, but understanding what success really is is way more important.

Clate Mask: That is awesome. Love it. Scott and I are excited. We're excited for Icon. Everybody listening, make sure you come join us at Icon April 25th to 27th. You can go to, to register, and we'll see you there along with Marcus Lemonis, The Profit. If you're looking for more ways to grow your business, check out knowledge center [00:09:30] at

Hello, have a question? Let's chat.

Got it