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Dreamforce 2016,’s user and developer conference held at the Moscone Convention Center and various hotels in San Francisco from October 3–7, 2016. (© Photo by Jakub Mosur Photography)

Marc Benioff’s Definitive Startup Guide for Becoming Successful Companies and Entrepreneurs — Pressfarm

Marc Benioff started Salesforce in 1999 at the height of the internet bubble. He had been working at Larry Ellison’s company for 13 years and figured he wanted to start something of his own. He was one of the highest paid Oracle employees at the time. However, even with the financial comfort, he felt that his idea had reached the perfect time to kick off.

What’s Benioff’s Most Important Value?

Without values, it is not possible for companies to succeed. It is even worse for startups. Big companies might discover that they just messed up in one or another, and pour money out to PR agencies to try and fix the situation.

What Guided Benioff in His Early Days?

For someone who faced so many obstacles, Benioff must have had guiding principles or some motivation and drive that led him not to quit. One of Benioff’s earliest employees, Tien Tzuo, has written about his experience as Salesforce’s 11th employee and first chief marketing officer (CMO) in an article published by Forbes. It all shows one thing, drive and passion could never have been enough. So what was?

1) Pitching a Product is More about Listening

Tien once attended a meeting with Benioff where they would pitch a client on joining Salesforce. It was a Salesforce meeting that turned into a sales call, then into a listening call.

2) Do Not Be Afraid of Big Ideas

When Salesforce first started, it was not just a big idea but it looked impossible. Those days, companies were spending weeks, months, and sometimes years installing heavy software to use as CRM solutions. Coupled with the millions of dollars they were spending on a product that was not really worth it, Benioff thought the impossible possible.

3) Always Remember Your First Principles

When Tien and his team came up with new ideas, a new way of doing things and a whole new strategy, they would be so excited to present these to Benioff only for him to toss them off. And he would incessantly start to remind them of what Salesforce wants to become, and why their ideas were going to take Salesforce away from the direction it is intended to go. Those were the fundamental ideas under which Marc started his company.

4) Do not Be Afraid to Tear Up the Master Plan

When you start a business or a role within a company, you always have a plan. You want to do this and that. After a month or a year when it doesn’t work do you keep doing the same thing or do you start over?

5) Dream Big

Salesforce has come a long way. The company started off in humble places. After a couple of months, Marc Benioff had the company move into an 8,000 square-foot office. There were only 10 employees, and this was in 1999. His co-founder, who to his credit has run the engineering division since the company began, at the time was astounded that Benioff would lease such a huge space for only 10 people.

6) Think About the Future

Despite their disagreements with Larry Ellison and eventual fall out in terms of business, Benioff has indicated in his book “Behind the Cloud” that they are still close friends and Larry is his mentor. One peculiar thing about Larry Ellison was how much he would talk about the future. People joked that he had his tenses confused and was not living in the present.

7) Every Employee is a Marketer

When Salesforce was starting off, one thing that Benioff and Harris did was to make sure that every employee plays a key role in marketing the company. There were several training sessions every year even as the company expanded to hundreds of employees. They wanted to train their employees on messaging.

Marc Benioff on Startup Investment

For the last decade, Marc Benioff and Salesforce Ventures have made a very good name for themselves when it comes to investing in startups in Silicon Valley. In fact, they have put money into about 20 startups and counting. Marc is definitely becoming a big name in the venture investing world, and startups are clamoring for his money and name on their boards.

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