Like any company, Salesforce started out small — a tiny startup whose first offices were in a San Francisco apartment. And we learned a lot in those lean first years. While we’ve grown and changed in the 20 years since, one thing remains the same: our tremendous respect for the dedicated leaders that start and grow their own businesses.
In honor of Salesforce’s 20th anniversary this month, we asked 20+ entrepreneurs (including our Salesforce Co-Founder Parker Harris!) to tell us their favorite things about running a company. Their answers are inspiring — from the people to the missions to the growth. But beware: their reasons just might make you want to get back to that business plan you’ve been thinking about.
What’s your favorite thing about running your own business?
Watching our customers grow
My favorite thing about running Salesforce is watching our customers grow, transform, and be successful. We got our start working with small businesses — Our customers and community are absolutely the lifeblood of our organization, and I’m proud we’ve been part of their success over the past 20 years.
— Parker Harris, Co-Founder and CTO, Salesforce
I love to dream big, solve things nobody thinks can be solved, and grow a team of future leaders who believe they can, too. At the end of the day, there's nothing more satisfying than building your own company, helping great people grow in their careers, and solving a problem that helps make life easier for millions of people.
— Mark Lawrence, Co-Founder & CEO, SpotHero
Building the kind of business I can be proud of
My favorite thing about starting a business is being able to build the kind of business at which I (and so many others that I know) have always wanted to work. At Ellevest, we’re all about our mission of helping women become financially stronger, and we’re doing this while building an inclusive and diverse culture.
Combing great people with a great mission
Surrounding ourselves with brilliant people who want to create a lasting impact and have fun while they are doing it. We have a company motto: Have fun and get it done. Part of the fun for me is hiring amazing people who are motivated to make a difference and watching them get feedback from our audience for the first time.
The positive impact
For me, the most satisfying part of founding Guild has been creating a business that positively impacts the lives of many. The obvious piece is the positive impact we’ve had on the thousands of students who've now had a chance to earn their degree with no student debt, but the surprising part has been the positive impact we've had on our employees, too.
— Rachel Carlson, CEO & Co-Founder, Guild Education
Running this organization has allowed me to work with talented people to find creative solutions for one of the world’s most pressing issues. I also find that being in this role makes me the end point of a wide range of challenges and, as a problem solver, I really enjoy getting to help with that.
Meeting incredible people
The greatest joy of running this business is the incredible people I meet and work alongside, from our employees and clients to our partners and vendors. Relationships are everything to us, and honestly, that’s what makes our small business successful.
Making a difference
What I love about running a nonprofit organization is the ability to connect with so many wonderfully inspiring people — our clients — and provide them with the support and resources they need to achieve their dreams. Every day I get to work with individuals I admire and create programs that are helping Bay Area women and men become successful business owners. I actually feel like I’m making a difference.
Building a diverse and connected team
The best thing about running RaiseMe is seeing team members with such a broad range of talents, personalities, and passions take on our lofty mission head-on. As diverse as our team is (hailing from backgrounds ranging from academia to the military and beyond) everyone in the company has joined together to solve a common problem. I love having the opportunity to watch them flourish in their various roles while making a difference in our students’, educators’, and partners’ lives.
The customer response
My favorite thing about running a business is seeing how the choices we make impact our customers. Whether it’s a new feature on our site or a new collaboration, it’s intriguing to see how our customers react to it. It’s like a science experiment!
— Karen Okonkwo, Co-Founder, TONL
Helping employees learn and grow
For me, it's all about creating an environment where others can come to learn more, do more, and become more — for them to take the talents and skills they've been given and earned and use them to serve others and find fulfillment. It's amazing to see.
—Kyle Porter, CEO & Co-Founder, Salesloft
Establishing an inspiring ethos
My favorite aspect of running a business is being able to establish an inspiring company ethos in order to make a positive impact on the world. Timbuk2 is committed to leaving our cities better than we found them. This mission is rooted in everything we do, from our made-to-last products to our commitment to San Francisco manufacturing to the people we choose to partner and work with, all of which inspire urban progress and community.
— Patti Cazzatto, CEO, Timbuk2
The thrill of great teamwork
My favorite thing about running my own business is the thrill of the impact — knowing we’re changing the world, but with the strong arms of dedicated supporters helping us every step of the way. We have so many groups to thank (including the generous support of companies like Salesforce). But most of all I’m thankful to the 1 million teachers who’ve begun teaching computer science in their classrooms using Code.org.
Creating the vision and values
My favorite thing about running a business is helping to define our Company Values. Our culture is critical to our success, and our values show what we care about and believe in as a company. It's a north star in a way, helping us understand how to hire and how to make decisions as we grow, and also what our customers should expect from us. It's very hard to make them stick, but done right it's one of the things that helps us appreciate the journey we are on building Guru.
— Rick Nucci, Co-Founder & CEO, Guru
Watching employees conquer their goals
My favorite part about running our business is the people. It’s such an amazing experience to watch your teammates define, tackle, and ultimately conquer their goals. Positivity is contagious, and when we all work together, we really can accomplish incredible things!
Creating a platform to give back
There are so many things I love about running a business, but the one that stands out the most is the ability to give back. I came from a Fortune 10 company that offered what most big companies provide: 1 paid day for volunteering. While that’s good, I’m always looking to make a lasting contribution. With my own business, we can do more. We can provide sustained help, plus a lifetime of positive memories for our employees and the families and nonprofits we support.
— Ron Weideck, CEO, CloudRider Networks
Competing at the highest level
My favorite thing about running a business is building a world-class team that competes at the highest levels within our industry while fostering camaraderie, professionalism, and a team dynamic that stems from a shared vision. In many ways, it feels similar to playing on a professional sports team.
— Daniel Bornstein, VP & Head of Business Development, Soothe
The familial aspect
I have two great loves: being a father and building things. And there’s something really paternal about growing a company that hits both of those. To have a vision for how something could be better and then be able to work with others make it happen is one of the most rewarding ways to spend your day.
— Scott Painter, Founder, Fair.com
Creating custom experiences for customers and fans
The best thing about running the business is the incredible opportunity to create customized experiences for our fans that give them a break from daily life. We believe that allowing people to immerse themselves in a music festival and choose their own experiences bouncing from stage to stage is a great way for them to unplug for a few hours and just enjoy the journey.
Helping our customers make an impact
The first thing is making a difference. In artificial intelligence, we have the opportunity to make a profound and positive impact on our customers’ businesses. When we see our hard work translate into real, tangible, and significant ROI for our customers, it’s a tremendous feeling.
Helping our customers achieve their goals is the number one thing we love about running a business. We absolutely love that our job is to help others.