Last year, tech firm Apple reached an astounding market capitalisation of $2.25 trillion U.S. dollars – making it the wealthiest business in the world. The company, worth more than many countries’ entire GDPs, is a global icon. You might even be using one of Apple’s devices to read this article!
Apple was co-founded by Steve Jobs in California, USA, in 1976. Jobs was a true visionary and made the company one of the most successful businesses in history. So, who was the man behind the Apple Mac, the iPod and the iPhone – and what can other entrepreneurs learn from this inspirational figure?
Who Was Steve Jobs?
Born in San Francisco in 1955, Steve Jobs was put up for adoption as a baby. After being raised in the San Francisco Bay area, he went to Reed college before dropping out. In 1974 he travelled to India to study Zen Buddhism. On returning to the United States, he and his friend Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computers in a garage. In the company’s early years, it built a number of highly successful personal computers, which supercharged the home computing revolution.
In the 1980s, Jobs was pushed out of the company during an internal power struggle. He went on to try and launch his own computer company and work in the cinema industry – he helped form the Pixar animation studio, which produced Toy Story – one of the first 3D computer-animated films.
Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 and helped revive the company’s fortunes. The business developed a knack for spotting trends and brought out several world-changing innovations, including the launch of the iMac, iTunes, the iPod, the iPhone and the App Store.
Jobs was first diagnosed with cancer in 2003 and died aged 56 in 2011. Since then, the company has been run by Tim Cook.
7 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Steve Jobs
If you are running your own company, it can be beneficial to learn from the example of successful businesspeople like Steve Jobs. Here are seven facts things you can learn from Steve Jobs about entrepreneurialism.
1. Stick To Your Vision
Steve Jobs was well known for proposing controversial ideas about what technology should be and sticking to them. Jobs followed his instincts even when people said it couldn’t be done. Whether it was connecting a mouse to a computer or adding a touch screen to a phone, Jobs believed in his ideas and did not get pushed off course by naysayers.
If your company is doing something ‘different’, there’s a chance that friends, family and business acquaintances may question the wisdom of doing something unusual. But the example of Steve Jobs shows that sticking to your instincts and following your vision can lead to enormous success.
2. See Failure As An Opportunity
There were several periods during Steve Jobs’ career where his company’s products and ideas failed – whether it was the Apple Lisa in the 1980s or his time outside Apple, Jobs was not always successful. However, he realised that periods of failure are also incredible opportunities to learn from our mistakes and think again. Jobs even found failure liberating; it meant he did not have much pressure and expectations hanging over him – and he could instead start again.
It can be not very reassuring if one of your company’s innovations doesn’t work out as expected. However, after the initial disappointment, try to learn from this experience and bounce back, just like Steve Jobs.
3. Demand Excellence
Apple’s products are regarded as some of the most intuitive, easy to use and well-designed in the world. And this didn’t happen by accident. Steve Jobs’ employees knew that their boss expected excellence at all times. Sometimes this would mean products they’d spent months or even years working on would be cancelled, and they would need to start again. The job was known for giving blunt and sometimes cutting feedback. But this was all to make the company’s products the best they could be.
Demanding the most from your team can be challenging – especially if you are not confrontational by nature! Nonetheless, the whole company will benefit by refusing to accept mediocrity and always asking your teams to do their best.
4. Don’t Rely On What People Think
Steve Jobs was well known for his belief that many people don’t know exactly what they want before you show it to them. For example, before the iPod existed, people had no idea they would love to carry around a small rectangular box containing tens of thousands of songs. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t listen to your customers, but you cannot expect them to do your work for you when it comes to innovating.
This lesson is especially relevant for companies innovating with products or services. The fact is, your customers or the market may not know what they want yet. However, if you believe your product solves a common problem or answers a need, there are good reasons to think it could be very successful.
5. Take Calculated Risks
During his time running Apple, Jobs took several major risks. Some of Apple’s offerings, such as the App Store, required an enormous investment in technology that no one had seen before. But it was not just a random choice – Jobs had many good reasons to believe the App Store would work.
You know your market well as an entrepreneur and can learn from this Steve Jobs lesson about taking risks. Of course, there is always a chance that big investments won’t pay off, but by building out a business case and doing your research, you can take calculated risks that could be very rewarding.
6. Surround Yourself With Good People
Despite running a major technology company, Steve Jobs was far from the most fabulous software developer. He was aware of his shortcomings and therefore chose to hire the best people around him to do things he couldn’t do. For example, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was a brilliant technical expert who managed the complex side of building Apple’s first computers.
When you are running your company, it is useful to bear this lesson in mind. Rather than trying to do everything yourself, seek experts who can do certain jobs better than you – finance, marketing, operations, design or anything else. As an entrepreneur, your job is to lead the company and develop its vision.
7. Keep An Open Mind
The final lesson entrepreneurs can learn from Steve Jobs is to keep an open mind. The Apple founder spent months travelling through India whilst a young man, and throughout his life, he tried to keep an open mind to different influences and ideas. By being open to new opportunities, he could spot trends and develop products that tapped into these markets. For example, other MP3 players existed before the iPod, but Jobs spotted this trend and produced an easier-to-use, more attractive product, which became a must-have.
Whatever industry you are in, it is important to try and follow this example from Steve Jobs. Rather than simply sticking to a successful formula that has worked so far, try and keep an open mind. This way, you are more likely to spot trends and discover new market opportunities.
Learning From Steve Jobs
Being an entrepreneur is an exciting adventure and an opportunity to push yourself and learn about the world continually. By learning from successful entrepreneurs who’ve gone before, like Steve Jobs, you’ll develop the skills and qualities to lead your company even more successfully. Good luck!