Josh James Startup Rules

Josh James Startup Rules 

Josh James is the CEO and founder of Domo. He was formerly the CEO and co-founder of Omniture, a company that he took from inception to IPO to $1.8B sale to Adobe. Below is my summary of the Josh James Startup Rules (JJSR). James created these rules to help entrepreneurs at startups, as well as intrapreneurs at existing companies be more effective. While most of the rules resonate with me personally, I especially like JJSR 11: “Nothing is more motivating and nothing pisses me off more than people who doubt me.” Enjoy!

  • JJSR 01 – I only care able sales. Everything else can be fixed later with money.
  • JJSR 02 – I am not trying to be rude by ignoring you. Your topic is not important right now. No coddling.
  • JJSR 03 – Do not listen to customers or potential customers to innovate. Use their feedback only to iterate.
  • JJSR 04 – Think big. Be audacious. Imagine deals people think will never happen. Believe.
  • JJSR 05 – Do be afraid of hiring executives more senior than you. Ensure mutual respect.
  • JJSR 06 – Attorneys work for you. Have them explain all options, but you make the final decision(s).
  • JJSR 07 – First things first. Ignore everyone and everything until most the important item(s)s are done.
  • JJSR 08 – Find sales people who love to spend money. The more they spend, the better your prospects.
  • JJSR 09 – I relish an all-nighter like my dad relishes the smell of jet fuel in the morning.
  • JJSR 10 – Nothing crystalizes strategy like several hours of continuous, peaceful, uninterrupted focus.
  • JJSR 11 – Nothing is more motivating and northing pisses me off more than people who doubt me.
  • JJSR 12 – Candidates/employees must have good grammar and spelling to be employed – 1% exception.
  • JJSR 13 – Customers first in every way! We had 100% retention at Omniture. Aim for same at Domo.
  • JJSR 14 – Believe in the technology team more than they believe in themselves. They will rise to the occasion.
  • JJSR 15 – Make everyone responsible. Create internal conflict to fix complex problems. Force cooperation.
  • JJSR 16 – Make mistakes faster than anyone else.
  • JJSR 17 – Successful executives put their pants on one leg at a time. Do not be intimidated by them.
  • JJSR 18 – Culture: Be polarizing. Some people will love it; some people will leave. Find the ballers.
  • JJSR 19 – In zeal to close deals, be careful not to become CEO with discounts. Sales will not invite you back.
  • JJSR 20 – Hire angry, hungry, slighted orphans and others waiting for their chance to prove the world wrong.
  • JJSR 21 – Competitors are trying to take food from your family and your team’s families. Team accordingly.
  • JJSR 22 – I have 99 problems, but hiring is not one. Fire fast, hire slow.
  • JJSR 23 – Making decisions with more than 75% of the information is by definition hesitation.
  • JJSR 24 – When raising money, first tell potential investor(s), “No, not interested.” It makes them crazy.
  • JJSR 25 – CFO office is prohibited from lying about finances, but not allowed to lose deals either.
  • JJSR 26 – Cloud: Pay attention to churn early. Retention gets nerve-wracking when 10% churn equals $50M.
  • JJSR 27 – In cloud and startup strive for 100% uptime. Fire repeat offenders. Uptime critical to customers.
  • JJSR 28 – Guerrilla marketing. Have colleges run competitions for space. Great branding/hiring ROI for $5K+.
  • JJSR 29 – Do not spend money on anything until you have to, but when you do, do not be chintzy.
  • JJSR 30 – Early to bed, early to rise hurts my head. Give me peace and quiet at 2 AM for genius.
  • JJSR 31 – Do not be a scared American. Go solo overseas. You play roulette with brand and success with JVs.
  • JJSR 32 – Do not negotiate with Israelis in business. You will lose.
  • JJSR 33 – Pay commissions only after receiving cash from customer. Sellers hate it, but collections are easy.
  • JJSR 34 – Family/friends more important than startup. More creatively, effort and zeal at home than work.
  • JJSR 35 – Until startup stable, work like dog during week. Fridays and weekends sacred for family and fun.
  • JJSR 36 – If old enough to die for your country, old enough to rent a car. Charge more for risker customers.
  • JJSR 37 – Revenue fixes all problems.
  • JJSR 38 – Faster and faster until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death.
  • JJSR 39 – Do things that do not scale. Start with the perfect experience and then work backward.
  • JJSR 40 – Never anger, but love employees who push too fast or too hard. Can teach brake; cannot teach gas.
  • JJSR 41 – Success can be in spite of what you do not because of what you do. Decipher/change or reproduce.
  • JJSR 42 – Hire the competition’s #1 sales person. Guarantee commissions – whatever it takes to win.
  • JJSR 43 – This that frustrate you could also be a billion dollar idea – pay attention.
  • JJSR 44 – Recruiting: Great employees do not walk through the door; recruit like you sell to big customers.
  • JJSR 45 – No unemployed candidates. Always have an excuse; too risky. Only the best, employed candidates.
  • JJSR 46 – Exceptions to every rule. Rules meant to be broken. Do so at own risk. Sometimes great reward.
  • JJSR 47 – Acquisitions: Get rid of founding team sooner, not later unless 100% committed and passionate.
  • JJSR 48 – Spend time each year on compensation plans. They are your most powerful operational weapon.
  • JJSR 49 – Private to private acquisitions are too difficult to value and time consuming. Build the business.
  • JJSR 50 – When you feel poor, splurge. Bust through the bad juju. Look good, feel good.
  • JJSR 51 – Do not let age be a liability (“old and rusty”). Keep curiosity for the different and the new.
  • JJSR 52 – Your word is your honor. Die before breaking it.
  • JJSR 53 – If BOD sales target is 1.0X, CEO is 1.1X, VP Sales is 1.2X, Director Sales is 1.3X, etc., step down.
  • JJSR 54 – Pick lead generation target. Assign 50% to marketing; 50% to partners; and 50% to sales.
  • JJSR 55 – Marketing should get paid for leads, but only after sales accepts each lead as high quality.
  • JJSR 56 – When it is not clear where you should focus, immerse yourself in sales. It has all the answers.

All contents copyright © 2012, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.


One Response to Josh James Startup Rules

  1. Nick Zolt says:

    Rules to live by from Josh James, a great entrepreneur and founder!


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