The unfortunate passing of Apple’s Steve Jobs last week left a flood of comments and messages across the web. It took social media by storm too, as just about everyone (Apple user or not) shared inspirational quotes by Jobs.
And it is a testament to the man that he will inspire for many years to come. Steve Jobs embodied what it meant to “think differently,” to leave secured success behind and venture into the riskiest trade there is – setting up your own small business.
There’s a lot to be learned from Steve Jobs. Government, finance, education, philanthropy – just about every sector can learn something from the iGenius. But I’d say small business owners have the most to learn from a guy who had a dream and turned it into an empire that only produced the best of the best, and who became a 21st century icon because of it. A guy who started Apple in his parents’ garage and turned it into a business that is presently worth more than the United States government. Here’s what you can learn from Steve Jobs’ legacy.
Don’t Worry about the Sale – Instead, focus on the service or product. Think of the saying “If you build it, they will come.” Apple is the poster child for this saying. Steve Jobs held true to this not only focusing on the product but the entire package. He didn’t just think of one way to improve your life as far as his products went, he thought of every way possible. He then took it a step further and turned products into services, like iTunes. Always think about the entire life cycle of your end client. Anticipate their needs and then go a step further and create needs by creating products and services they can’t (or don’t want to) live without.
Become a Thought Leader – Apple became a best selling brand not only because of Apple, but because of its founder, Steve Jobs. Jobs became the thought leader, inventing the tagline “Think Differently,” creating a brand around the prefix “i” and developing himself into so much more than just another CEO. People wouldn’t just get excited about Apple; they’d be excited about him.
Be a thought leader by breaking the mold in your industry. No matter what your field, be the best in it. Get involved in the dialogue, offer to give speeches, attend seminars. Know everything there is to know about the game, then create new ways of playing it. There’s no way you won’t succeed with this strategy.
Take a Position – Apple is identified as much by what it stands for as what it doesn’t stand for – banality. Apply this rule to your company by letting people know what you’re not…then deliver on that every single time!
Looks Matter – I always stress the importance of aesthetics. Nothing turns away clients or screams “amateur” like a shoddy business front. Whether it’s online, in person, how you appear or even your stationary or packaging – a poor appearance doesn’t get remembered favorably. It also communicates inefficiency and no one wants to be associated with that. I can’t think of any company that serves as a better example of recognizable design on every level, from the product, to the shop, to the packaging.
Roll with the Punches – Every company has a setback. What matters is whether you evolve from them or whether you become a sinking ship. Apple’s setback occurred in 1985 when the company wasn’t doing well financially and Jobs was booted from his role in the company. But he didn’t call it quits. Instead, he started NeXT and ended up purchasing Pixar Studios – which Disney later bought for $7.4 billion. Apple, still struggling, bought NeXT and brought Jobs back. Jobs, in a Stanford address, said that “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
This last message is perhaps the most relevant in our ongoing recession. Failure can be turned into an opportunity, so long as there’s a creative and willing mind to further it.