10 Rules for Entrepreneurs

by Lynnette Nolan | Nov 14, 2011

Carbonite is my sixth company since getting out of college in 1969.  I am frequently asked to talk about the lessons I’ve learned that have lead to a string of successful businesses.  Since this week marks Global Entrepreneurship Week, it seems a good time to share my top-10 list, and over the coming weeks, I’ll elaborate on some of these points.   

Dave’s 10 rules for Entrepreneurs

  1. Know where you are.  Know where you’re going.  Execute your plans.
  2. It’s always about the product.   Our products must delight every day.  
  3. Service matters more than sales. Do whatever it takes to make customers happy.  Apologize when we screw up.
  4. Measure everything.   Fix what’s broken.  Juice what’s working.  
  5. Make mistakes.  Move fast, recover, learn.
  6. Grow your team.  Hire people who know more than you do.  
  7. Be transparent.  The more people know, the better.   
  8. Be respectful and thankful.  People do things because they want to, not because they have to.  Set a good example.
  9. Stay humble.  Success is fleeting.  
  10. Enjoy the moment.  Stop to savor achievements. 

I’m going to start with the last point, “Enjoy the Moment,” because Carbonite recently went public – an achievement reached by only a tiny percentage of startups.  If ever there was a moment to enjoy, this would sure rank up there.  I got to ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ exchange, go outside into Times Square and see myself and the Carbonite logo on the 60-foot-high jumbotron, and watch the ticker as the first public shares of Carbonite were traded.  

Here’s the challenge:  We still have a company to run.  We still have competitors chasing after us.  We still have schedules to hit, milestones to achieve, engineering projects to complete on time, data centers to keep running, and on and on.  An IPO doesn’t change any of that.  Since doing all those things well is what got us to the point of an IPO in the first place, it’s pretty hard to stop worrying about them for even a minute.  

But life is short.  Even though an IPO is just a waypoint on the journey, I have to remember that there are 300 other employees here for whom this is a proud moment.  So I did take a breath, and thought about the fact that just a few years ago Carbonite was just an idea we were tossing around on a warm summer day.  The curse of being an entrepreneur is that the challenges never let up, but if you can’t stop and enjoy the successes along the way, you’re going to turn into a grouchy old scrooge.  Who would want to work for someone who never seems to get enjoyment out of his work and achievements?   So my advice is:  stop to savor the moment.  It will recharge your batteries for the next round of challenges and it will make you more fun to be around.


- Dave Friend, Carbonite Chairman & CEO