Here are the story’s 10 lessons and my key takeout from each:

Lesson one: Go into your cave

Fast Company: (Steve) Jobs has never cared much about what the tech industry has to say. “Magic doesn’t happen in an echo chamber”.

The takeout: Don’t fret next time your lock yourself away for weeks or months to develop your great innovation. Listening too much to your industry can damage your thinking.


Lesson two: It’s okay to be the king

Fast Company: The tech industry believes in “inclusive, bottom-up, wisdom-of-crowds innovation … But the (Apple) CEO appoints himself de facto product manager for every important release”.

The takeout: Don’t believe mumbo jumbo about needing an inclusive management style. It’s okay to be a control freak if it leads to results. It’s your business. Don’t feel you have to work “on” the business rather than “in” it, if your skills are most valuable on the product side, and that’s what you enjoy.


Lesson three: Transcend orthodoxy

Fast Company: There are those on the “good” side of the tech industry who believe all software should be open, and those on the “bad” side who feel its fine to limit development. Fast Company says Apple believes the majority of customers don’t care about such debates.

The takeout: Put your customer at the absolute core of everything you do. They care much less about pointless ideological debates than you do.


Lesson four: Just say no

Fast Company: Jobs’ primary role at Apple is to turn things down. “Every day the CEO is presented with ideas for new products and features. The default answer is ‘no’”.

The takeout: Don’t be afraid to become a “no” machine with staff. Don’t feel you have to listen to every idea and even appear interested in even bad ideas to maintain morale. You’ll show your venture. Be clear on why are saying no – staff will soon get the message. The hardest thing is knowing what NOT to do.


Lesson five: Serve your customer, no really

Fast Company: Apple’s competitors in the computer and phone business have adopted strategies that amount to customer avoidance rather than service (though outsourced call centres and the like). Apple modelled its “genius bar” in Apple stores on a hotel concierge.

The takeout: Your job doesn’t end when the product is bought. After-sales service and support can be the difference between winning and losing.

Lesson six: Everything is marketing

Enough said. Has there ever been a more effective marketer than Apple?

Lesson seven: Kill the past

Fast Company: “Apple’s willingness to abandon the past makes for better products. Nothing holds it back.”

The takeout:  Great ventures engage in “creative destruction”. They destroy value in old products or operations to create much more value in new products. They keep reinventing their venture. They are never wedded to past success or ways of doing things.


Lesson eight: Turn feedback into inspiration

Fast Company: “(Steve) Jobs doesn’t exactly ignore customers; he uses their ideas as inspiration, not direction; as a means, not an end.  … the whole approach of the company is that people can’t really envision what they want.”

The takeout: What a fabulous insight. How many big company managers obsess about market research and customer feedback? Or waste thousands of dollars in surveys and focus groups to cover their backsides. They assume customers know what they want. Visionary entrepreneurs often build a product and THEN find a market – not the other way around. YOUR CUSTOMERS DO NOT ALWAYS KNOW WHAT THEY WANT – SOMETIMES THEY WANT YOU TO LEAD THEM.


Lesson nine: Don’t invent, reinvent

Fast Company: “Detractors argue (Apple) borrows freely from pre-existing technologies. … Apple’s speciality is the remix.”

The takeout: Great innovations are often “mash-ups” of existing products or services. Instead of trying to invent the next big thing, look at what’s already available. What features could you strip out of existing products to make them easier to use, cheaper, or more functional? How could you combine existing features to create a new product?

Lesson 10: Play by your own clock

Fast Company: “Apple doesn’t get caught up in a competitive frenzy… It plays by its own clock.” The company has a long-range focus.

The takeout: So often, a clear strategic plan lets the best ventures work at their own pace – rather than constantly respond to changing market conditions. The best entrepreneurs know their path: what’s yours?


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