The 11 Commandments of Business Success

Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, knows a thing or two about business success. LinkedIn was founded in 2002 and sold in 2016 for $26B USD. Not a bad rate of return for “only” 14 years of work!

Prior to LinkedIn, Hoffman was involved at Apple, started, and was an integral part of Paypal’s success and its subsequent sale to Ebay. Hoffman knows business so when he shares some of his husiness secrets, we should all take notes!

Recently, he spoke about 11 components to his success on Timothy Ferriss’ podcast (episode 248). Although he calls them commandments of start up success, they apply equally well to any successful business. I have been able to apply each of these commandments in any business that I have been involved with. Doing these 11 things well will definitely accelerate your business!

I have listed each of the 11 commandments below along with my brief commentary on each point.

Reid Hoffman’s 11 Commandments of Start Up Success

  1. Expect rejection. Rejection is a way of life for any entrepreneur, sales person, or business person. Expect it, learn from it, and adjust your approach so you are better because of it.
  2. Hire like your life depends on it. Every business leader makes or breaks their business with the people that they hire. Spend the time to ensure you hire to fit your culture as well as to fill the role. As Jim Collins says, get the right people on the bus and then get them in the right seats.
  3. In order to scale, you have to do things that don’t scale. Basically, there is a ton of manual effort required in business. Not all of it is scalable but it must be done (e.g., finding your first customers).
  4. Raise more money than you think you need.  Potentially a lot more – this does not just apply to businesses that are looking for venture capital. This applies to all businesses and even to projects or programs within a business. Make sure that you have more than enough resources to deliver on your objective. John C. Maxwell says “margins in life create options.” Without having more than you think you need, your options for moving forward are limited.
  5. Release your products early enough that they can still embarrass you. This is the concept of releasing a minimally viable product, MVP. See this post for more details.
  6. Decide. Decide. Decide. A business leaders job is to make decisions so that their business can continually move forward. When you defer decisions continuously, the business will suffer.
  7. Be prepared to both make and break plans. A business leader’s role includes setting strategy and then changing that strategy when market conditions change or when the strategy isn’t working. A leader must have:
    • Patience to wait for the results of their strategy
    • Understanding to know when to change the strategy because it isn’t working
    • Wisdom to know the difference between a strategy that is not working as opposed to one that just needs a little more time
    • Humbleness to admit that the strategy is not perfect and take action to make changes
  8. Don’t tell your employees how to innovate. Create a culture that fosters innovation rather than a prescriptive culture that tries to force it. See this post for more details.
  9. To create a winning company culture, make sure every employee owns it. VALVE does a great job of this. Check out this post for more details.
  10. Have grit and stick with your hero’s journey. It takes perseverance to lead a business. It is not for the faint of heart. Stick with it. Join a mastermind group and surround yourself with other business leaders that can encourage and support you.
  11. Pay it forward. Use the momentum of your own success to move the success of others. – Always contribute to other people and other organizations. At the end of our time here on earth, we will not be remembered for how many toys we accumulated. Rather, we will be remembered by the people who we have helped!

Take Action

Do a quick assessment of your business based on the 11 commandments above. Rate each commandment on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 means you are terrible and 10 means you are extraordinary. Any area where you have score under a 7 probably needs improvement!

Where do you need to improve? What actions will you take this week to shore up your weak areas?

Finally, take a look at these related posts for more information:


“That the leader’s basic challenge is to do two things. One is to envision the future and to enroll people in making that future become reality, and secondly is to engage people in the business of the business so that they see the organization’s success as the platform for their success.” James Belasco


What business start up experience do you have that may provide value to other readers? Leave your comments below!


Download a free copy of my new Ebook: 12 Steps to Business Transformation. If you would like a business assessment to help kick off your business transformation, contact me at or at 587-227-5179.

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