Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs is a globally recognized public figure who introduced revolutionary innovation in computer and communication technology.
He was the man who commercialized the personal desktop from the corner of his garage. He was who introduced the iPhone when BlackBerry was all the rage and dominated the market.
He was the one who raised the Pixar animation studio when he was facing the lowest moment of his life.
Steve Jobs led an interesting life full of inspiring lessons for emerging entrepreneurs.
Here are his fifteen business and life advice you can apply to your career.
- 1. Keep Things Simple
- 2. Aesthetics Matter
- 3. Think Outside the Box
- 4. Create a Market for Your Product
- 5. Build an Ecosystem
- 6. Work as a Team
- 7. Know How to Sell Your Product
- 8. Have Faith in Yourself
- 9. Every Little Skill Counts
- 10. Go for What You Love
- 11. Be the Face of Your Business
- 12. Make a Difference
- 13. Don’t Wait for Tomorrow
- 14. Give Your 100%
- 15. Stay Optimistic
1. Keep Things Simple
Steve Jobs business strategy has always been focused on simplicity. He found intricacy to be an unnecessary complexity that only adds to clutter and reduces efficiency.
“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity.
Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.
But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
He believed the real talent was to not manufacture intricate products but to break down complex functions and present them in their simplest form. He was inspired by Eichlers California Modern architecture and wanted to use the same concept in his products.
“Eichler did a great thing. His houses were smart and cheap and good.
They brought clean design and simple taste to lower-income people.
It was the original vision for Apple. That’s what we tried to do with the first Mac. That’s what we did with the iPod.”
If you look at Apple now, most of its success is attributed to its product’s UI and user experience.
2. Aesthetics Matter
To him, the product’s aesthetic was as important as its functions. He followed the Zen philosophy in the physical design of his products and often went for minimal appearances.
In his early years, Steve felt a deep interest in Bauhaus designs. It shaped his thoughts and led to Apple’s sleek designs. Everything from its product’s shape, color to typography, all were influenced by Steve’s love for Bauhaus.
“The reason that Apple is able to create products like the iPad is because we’ve always tried to be at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts.”
Steve Jobs believed a product should be a perfect balance of technology and art. And even after a decade of his demise, Apple still uses his ideas in its design.
3. Think Outside the Box
Steve Jobs had a different way of looking at things. Instead of following traditional practices, he focused on existing technology and strove to make it better.
“Throughout my years in business, I discovered something. I would always ask why you do things.
The answers that I would invariably get are, ‘Oh, that’s just the way things are done around here.’
Nobody knows why they do what they do. Nobody thinks very deeply about things in business.”
He launched Macintosh to sell computers everyone could use. He introduced the iPhone to replace buttons and improve the user experience. He launched the iPod to give its users easy access to music.
His products have taught us to think outside the box and look beyond the walls of convention.
In his words: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
4. Create a Market for Your Product
Steve Jobs was a designer, not an inventor. While he was personally involved in his product designs, he didn’t exactly engineer products. Yet, he knew what products to produce because he could anticipate people’s needs before they even knew what they wanted.
“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.
We shouldn’t overly rely on focus groups. Sometimes the most innovative of products contradict what the end-users envision.”
He carefully picked products with potential for innovation, added specifics to improve user experience, and designed its products into something completely new.
In an interview with Inc. Magazine, Steve Jobs said, “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”
Today, other brands appreciate his marketing mind and try to emulate him.
5. Build an Ecosystem
One of the reasons Apple has maintained a loyal customer base is because of its interlinked products.
He wanted to create an entire Apple ecosystem so people wouldn’t have to acquire third-party services for anything.
He produced both hardware and software in-house, tied it together, and created an exclusive online marketplace for its customers.
“There’s no other company that could make a MacBook Air and the reason is that not only do we control the hardware, but we control the operating system.
And it is the intimate interaction between the operating system and the hardware that allows us to do that.
There is no intimate interaction between Windows and a Dell notebook.”
Steve’s shrewd business decision gave Apple such a competitive advantage that the company still reaps the benefits from it. He taught us that by upselling every relevant thing a customer might need, you can establish your brand even in a highly competitive market.
6. Work as a Team
Steve was a great many things, but being a patient team player wasn’t one of them. Yet, he was one of the biggest advocates of teamwork and understood the significance of collaboration even when he was 13-year-old and met Wozniak—co-founder of Apple—for the first time.
During an interview in 2003, Steve once said his business model was influenced by The Beatles.
“My business model is the Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check.
They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts.
That’s how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”
Jobs believed a company thrives on a collective effort of people, not things, because a team balances each other’s negative traits out and inspires creativity.
It was because of Steve’s team management skills that, despite his temperamental personality, his team stayed with him for years.
7. Know How to Sell Your Product
Steve’s life achievement has proved he was a genius marketing mind.
He knew how to pitch his ideas; how to promote products, to incite just the level of excitement in the crowd. And most of all, he knew how to sell without actually selling anything.
His popular campaign “Think Different” aptly summarizes Steve Jobs marketing model. The ad displayed thinkers, creators, and admirable personalities to create an inspirational image of Apple.
Steve focused on the core value of Apple instead of specifics and targeted on the experience his products generate.
“We don’t stand a chance of advertising with features and benefits and with RAMs and with charts and comparisons.
The only chance we have of communicating is with a feeling.”
That is how he turned his venture from a small enterprise into a global brand.
8. Have Faith in Yourself
If you sift through Steve’s history, you’ll find Jobs academic and professional life hadn’t been easy.
He struggled in school due to his unending curiosity.
He dropped out of college to save his parents money for a classic education he didn’t feel interested in. He was publicly fired by the organization; he gave his blood and sweat to build.
Steve Job faced a lot of troubles in his life because of his volatile personality but never lost faith and continued to take each obstacle as a challenge.
“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”
When he was asked to advise emerging entrepreneurs, Jobs said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
Steve didn’t quit. Every time he failed, he learned from his mistakes and started anew. Today, Job is remembered as a legendary leader in the tech industry.
9. Every Little Skill Counts
When Steve Jobs was in college, he found little interest in any subject save for the calligraphy course. He found himself drawn toward font styles, artistic strokes, and the curve of a word that combined to create a beautiful word.
At that time, calligraphy was an insignificant skill set to Steve. Still, he stuck around to study the art of typography before starting his journey to Apple.
His one insignificant skill later proved to be his most significant asset. He employed his calligraphy knowledge to select typography for Apple products and introduced the first computer with multiple fonts.
“If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.”
Steve taught us that every skill matters irrespective of its relevance. What you learn along the way will eventually come in handy.
10. Go for What You Love
In Steve’s opinion, entrepreneurs should choose a career path that drives work satisfaction. He felt if you didn’t love what you did, you’d likely quit when things would turn difficult.
NeXt is a classic example. When he struggled with Apple, he used his savings to start NeXT – a software company which later became the basis of the Apple operating system.
“It’s hard to tell with these Internet startups if they’re really interested in building companies or if they’re just interested in the money.
I can tell you, though, if they don’t really want to build a company, they won’t luck into it.
That’s because it’s so hard that if you don’t have a passion, you’ll give up.”
Not all of his products turn out to be successful. But he continued to pursue his passion and designed even better versions.
11. Be the Face of Your Business
Steve Jobs never shied away from the spotlight. His leadership skills were his greatest asset that allowed him to build his brand image and influenced the success of his business ventures.
He was the one who persuaded Wozniak to start the company and impressed Multimillionaire Mike Markkula fund $250,000 within a year of its incorporation. When he started NeXT with no concrete product, even then he managed to garner investment from billionaire Ross Perot.
He had a charismatic personality that seemed to attract powerful personalities to want to work with him.
Wozniak, Steve’s first business partner, once said, “I only want to know interesting people, like Steve Jobs for instance.”
His personality is one of the reasons both Apple and Pixar thrived under his leadership and became successful ventures.
12. Make a Difference
Steve Jobs didn’t enter into joint ventures to generate profits.
Yes, the sale is the ultimate reward for running your business, but he set out specifically to make a change in the world.
He redefined the utility of a computer with his groundbreaking Mac PC. He revolutionized the cell phone industry with advanced technology. He brought CGI animation to the limelight with Pixar.
His achievement has left such a powerful impression on the world so much it inspired film producers to make a movie about his life.
His most inspiring act was to use his business venture to contribute to the world.
“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”
13. Don’t Wait for Tomorrow
When Steve Jobs was 17 years old, he noticed a written quote about living your life now that made a lasting impression on him for a very long time. It instigated changes in his life and made him a revolutionary leader.
“For past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
The motivation propelled him to not waste time lamenting over past mistakes and helped him overcome failures in his life.
“If you live each day as if it were your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”
He encouraged people to make the most of their time and don’t wait for tomorrow to start a change. His own advice led him to generate his first million before he reached 25 years old.
By the time of his death, Steve’s net worth had touched over $10 billion.
14. Give Your 100%
People who had worked with Steve would often call him an obsessively focused man. He would pour over every detail to make sure his products, marketing, distributions were without fault.
“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will see it.
You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”
He learned that lesson from his father and applied it in his professional career.
You’d be surprised at how much time Steve Jobs spent on choosing the color of the Mac. It was Steve’s acute attention to detail that had caused some of the most successful product launches in history.
“Be a yardstick of quality.” He said, “Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
15. Stay Optimistic
Steve Jobs used to say his biggest achievement in life was getting fired from Apple. If it weren’t for that turn of events, he probably would never have founded NeXT and never would have entered the animation industry.
“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
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.”
It was his optimistic attitude that propelled him to take a chance on the computer, start a new software company, and join a venture with Disney. He continued to trust his judgment and eventually got his entry back to Apple. Inc.
Steve’s name has always been associated with the Apple brand and how his cutting-edge innovations brought a revolution to the tech industry.
But he offered much more than Macs and iPhone. He was a visionary leader, a business genius, and an achiever who left a legacy behind that is still widely popular and considered one of the greatest inventions of the 21st Century.
Learn from Steve Jobs achievements. His life experience is worth exploring.