I think that, with the death of Steve Jobs, the world has lost the greatest business entrepreneur since Henry Ford. Others will be able to deliver a far better, more personal obituary than I could offer – for example, try Walt Mossberg’s eulogy in the Wall Street News – but there is just one business lesson I would like to focus on.
I have a saying that, in business, nothing fails like success, and many companies become so attached to their drivers of past and current glories that they are unable to create new, future successes.
For the first 20 years of its existence, Apple was a computer business – just like Compaq, Dell, HP and others. It designed neater, more pleasing computers, admittedly, but it remained a niche player.
When Jobs returned to a troubled Apple organisation in 1997, however, he realised that Apple shouldn’t be a computer company but a consumer digital products business. That shift in perspective may sound small, but it led to the creation of iTunes, the iPod and the iPhone, and these were the products that transformed the fortunes of the company and turned it into the corporate giant it is today.
As at Apple, changing the way you see your business – its markets, its products and services and its target customers, its reason for being – can reveal huge new opportunities that you would never have otherwise noticed.
No one has a clearer view of their business than Steve Jobs had of Apple, and the world is a better place for his vision.
© Stuart Cross 2011. All rights reserved.