By Collins Owiti.
“Steve was among the greatest American innovators- brave enough to think differently, boldenough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.” US PresidentBarack Obama eulogizes Apple Co-founder in a terse statement released by the White House onthe 5th October, 2011 following the news of his death. This moment marked the end of his longbattle with pancreatic tumor. Death had indeed robbed the world of an entrepreneur perexcellence and a man who lived ahead of his times.
Even though he no longer lives, there arequite a lot of key lessons that entrepreneurs in today’s age can pick from his life and deeds.
College degree or Not
Proponents of schooling would strongly argue that higher education is a critical determinant toone’s personal success in life, both in career and business. However this is quite often never the case. Even though higher learning is critical in impacting relevant managerial skills that wouldresult into prudence in managing enterprises, conscious dedication to pursuit of goals anddetermination bears the magic wand to success in business and life.
Some of the renowned entrepreneurs never lived up to a college degree but instead resorted to dedicate themselves to pursue their ventures. Steve Jobs dropped out of Oregon”s Reed College after one semester before going on to co-found Apple, Facebook”s Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard degree, and so did Microsoft”s Bill Gates. Through their persistence and focus, the trio rose to build some of the World”s most successful business empires.
However, dropping out of college can be a risky endeavor if you”re uncertain whether your business is on the path to success or not. Better still in our increasingly dynamic and competitive world, formal skills acquired through higher learning is critical to you as an entrepreneur. It helps enhance your negotiation skills, improves your business acumen and improves your ability to interact with well-established networks that would create numerous opportunities for you. As an entrepreneur, if you do not have it and can pursue it, please do and if not, please note that it is NOT the ultimate determinant of success in your business ventures.
Passion, passion, passion In any venture that you will ever embark on, this can never be over-emphasized even more.Steve Jobs was overzealously passionate about his company- Apple and all he set aside to achieve. At one point while addressing his team he said “I am going to give what I can to further Apple. If that means sweeping floors, I”ll sweep floors. If that means cleaning the toilet, I’ll clean the toilet.”
“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” – Waldo Emerson, says it all. As anentrepreneur, what level of commitment do you have for what you do? Are you that passionate,so much so that you would sweep floors or clean toilets to protect your brands or further thegrowth of your businesses?
Never give up
We all face setbacks in our lifetime, loss of opportunities, loss of loved ones, loss of materialpossessions and so on. Our success thus is NOT dependent on these experiences but on ourresolve to rise up, dust ourselves and begin writing a new story with courage. This “never saydie” attitude is very, very important.
The beauty about setbacks is that it can help you re-prioritize and build a new and better businessenterprise. In 1985, Apple was faring poorly and Jobs was ousted from the company he helpedbuild. Instead of becoming dejected, Steve Jobs started another computer company called NeXTComputers and soon purchased Pixar Studios for $10 million. In 2006, animation giant WaltDisney bought Pixar for a deal worth $7.4 billion — a pretty sweet Return On Investments forJobs. A struggling Apple ultimately bought NeXT in 1996 and Jobs returned to Apple as CEO.
He subsequently led the company through its most innovative period yet. He described histemporary exile from Apple as a blessing in disguise. “The heaviness of being successful wasreplaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me toenter one of the most creative periods of my life,” he said in a Stanford Universitycommencement address.
You clearly have no reason to give up despite whatever setback you have gone through in yourpersonal and business ventures. You can indeed re-write your story!!!
As an entrepreneur, your ability to anticipate the future and respond to it in good time is verycritical in this ever changing globe, the future life line of your business is dependent on this –Visioning. Where do you see your enterprise in five years, ten years, and so on from now? Whatwould hinder you and what is in place to counter the roadblocks? How will you respond toemerging issues? Government regulations? Changing trends? Technological advancements?
Apple has reaped the benefits from Steve Job”s ability to anticipate future trends. Theydominated the digital music sales (shrinking the market of CD music sales), while the iPhone hasalso revolutionized the phone industry by introducing a very sophisticated and secure touchscreen based phone.
For example here at home, the Mombasa – Nairobi line of the Standard Gauge Railway issnaking its way towards completion, if your main business is truck haulage between these twocities, what would it be like for you in October, 2017? Have you prepared for this?
Broaden your Horizon
Travelling to a new destination where you get to interact with new sets of cultures, personalexperiences, ideas, have a great way of broadening a person”s perspective and expanding theirsense of what”s possible – these are both traits an entrepreneur needs. As an entrepreneur, you getto learn a lot, establish contacts that would result into new markets for you or better still newpartnerships that would scale you to new heights.
Steve Jobs travelled a lot and he noted that this immensely improved his scope in life. It openednew markets for him, Apple gained foot print in the Oriental markets of China and the Far East,production lines were opened and Apple products sales soared in Asia and China became theproduction house for Apple products destined for Africa and the emerging markets.
This was amajor shift for Jobs considering initially Apple”s market was sawn to the States.Every year, Family Bank Business Club creates opportunities for its members to make twointernational trips to prime destinations world wide. These trips offer the club members not onlywith leisure travels but also linkages to international business partners. These trips have resultedinto very lucrative partnerships between Family bank”s club members and their respectiveinternational business partners”. Do you take advantage of these opportunities as anentrepreneur?
Always strive to Differentiate
Every year, Apple upgrades its brands of products to new versions that create a differenceamongst its users. Creating a difference is about closing the gap between what already exists andwhat could be. It means setting your own new bar by understanding how to fill the tiniest gap inhuman desire. Because difference is not just noticed; it’s experienced and felt.
Do you need to have a brand new idea or invent something radically different in order to createdifference? No, not necessarily. Starbucks didn’t invent coffee, and Apple didn’t invent thesmartphone; these companies simply created new experiences of them, which in turn created awhole new set of meanings that we attached to what were once commodities.
Always remember as an entrepreneur, it isn’t the person with the best idea who wins; it’s theperson who has the greatest understanding of what really matters most to people.
(The writer is a Relationship Manager –SME and is passionate about Strategy, Management &Leadership. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org )