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Ten Great Entrepreneurial Lessons From Steve Jobs

In order to be the best, you need to learn from the best.

Allon Raiz

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Apple was born in a garage in 1976 as a modest entrepreneurial venture started by Steve Jobs. The road that Steve travelled from those humble beginnings to creating the wealthiest company in the world can teach entrepreneurs a great deal about what it takes to succeed. I’d like to share the top ten lessons I have learned from Steve’s entrepreneurial journey.

1. Success starts and ends with perseverance

Steve Jobs succeeded because he persevered in the face of many failures. He seemed to have irreverence towards failure – he understood that it was part of the journey and it would just spur him on to new ideas. One example is how he bounced back after being fired from Apple in 1985; within a few months he founded Pixar and then NeXT (which also failed).

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance,” Steve once said in an interview in 1995.

2. Once the founder, always the salesman

Steve Jobs held the key sales position at Apple right to the end. YouTube has countless clips of him selling to a wide variety of audiences. His legendary Macworld keynote presentations look easy and off the cuff, but in fact each presentation was a carefully planned sales pitch. Not ever in Steve’s 23 years with Apple, did he abdicate responsibility for driving sales.

3. Create your own markets

Steve Jobs ignored the maxim of giving the market what it wants. He was impudent about market research findings and would say, “The consumer doesn’t know what he or she wants until we make it.” He would create something so sexy and different that it would be irresistible, and then tell the market this is what it wanted.

For instance, when the market was comfortably settled with the MP3 player, Jobs introduced the iconic iPod and revolutionised market demand.

4. Settle new markets

Steve Jobs was not always a pioneer in product development, but he had a visionary instinct for what would work in the market. Many of his products were not his idea but rather ones he’d seen elsewhere. Steve’s particular genius was that he was able to refine such ideas and turn them into market leaders.

A famous example is the iPad – its predecessor was the GridPad, created in 1989, one of up to ten tablets that didn’t make it. Steve took the concept and differentiated it to such an extent that he was able to settle the market for it.

5. Excellence in execution

For Steve Jobs, execution was everything. Apple was built on the creed of excellence in every detail of execution, from production, to supply chains, to channels to market, to marketing itself. It was a level of excellence that made it much better than its competitors. Steve once said, “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

6. Attention to detail

For Steve Jobs, every peripheral of design as well as functionality was important for him. He believed that the back of a gadget should look as good as the front, and is famously said to have expected the internal design to be exquisite as well. When asked why, his answer was, “Other engineers will see.” Steve attributed his passion for detail to his father who told him it was important to craft the backs of fences and cabinets even though they would never be seen.

7. Charisma counts

Steve Jobs showed us just how important charismatic leadership is in getting buy-in from the market. Apple was never quite the same under John Scully; it missed Steve’s flair. In the end, it took Steve’s return in 1997 to turn the company around.

From that point onwards, Apple soared to the top and in 2010 it was declared the world’s biggest company. Steve’s charisma largely shaped the Apple brand and was responsible for its cult following.

8. Simplicity sells

All the Apple products are easy to use because Steve Jobs resisted complexity. For him, ease of use came first. There is a simplicity of use and a minimalist aesthetic about each product that distinguishes Apple products from all its competitors.

Jobs knew that in this complex high tech world, people want simplicity and are willing to pay more for it. His marketing messages emphasised this, showing a world where life is easy and manageable with his products.

9. Take a variety of routes to market

Steve Jobs did not feel pressured by mainstream market trends. He embraced every marketing opportunity and tried every route, from the conventional to the cutting edge. It seems that he favoured a spaghetti sticking to the roof approach, throwing it all up and seeing how much of it he could get to stick.

His marketing success came because he had a clear story to tell and he told it in any way that would create a seductive customer experience. He also ignored market analytics; instead he followed his intuition about where and how to tell the story about Apple.

10. Surround yourself with the best

Steve Jobs was famous for surrounding himself with talent. He strategically identified the people he wanted to have on his team and personally wooed them. Steve was determined to have the very best people to support him.

One such recruit was Tim Cook, who took over as CEO after Steve retired; Tim was the numbers man who was originally hired as the COO. Steve did not believe that he could do it all on his own, and the result is that he left Apple the legacy of an exceptional team of people to lead the company into the future.

[box style=”gray,info” ]Entrepreneurs On Breakdowns and Breakthroughs[/box]

Allon Raiz is the CEO of Raizcorp, the only privately-owned small business ‘prosperator’ in Allon Raiz is the CEO of Raizcorp. In 2008, Raiz was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and in 2011 he was appointed for the first time as a member of the Global Agenda Council on Fostering Entrepreneurship. Following a series of entrepreneurship master classes delivered at Oxford University in April 2014, Raiz has been recognised as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. Follow Allon on Twitter.

Company Posts

Register A Company In South Africa

With over 120 Start-up Services, Company Partners is the perfect Partner for Company, Tender and Contract compliance.

Company Partners

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Company Partners is the leading Company Registration Service Provider in South Africa, offering a One-Stop-Shop for all the Company Registration and Tender Compliance Documents.

With over 120 Start-up Services, Company Partners is the perfect Partner for Company, Tender and Contract compliance.

Established in 2006, Company Partners guarantees that the services they offer meet the standards of the best in the industry. Over 30 full-time Consultants offer services and standards of the highest quality.

Company Registration Benefits

Your Company Structure is the first consideration you need to make when you want to register a new Company at the CIPC. The preferred choice of a legal entity for most Businesses is a Pty Company.

Related: Business Model Design – Picking The Business Model That Works For You

Here’s why:

  1. You protect your personal life and assets from your business when you register a company. If one runs a business, it is necessary to operate in a safe legal structure where your business assets and risks are separated from your personal ones.
  2. You look more professional when you operate under a registered company name. If you want to obtain a large contract or a tender, it appears more professional to trade in a Pty Company capacity than in your own name.
  3. Most Suppliers and Government Departments require businesses to be registered as a Company to apply for their Tenders and Contracts.

How to Register a Company

Step 1: Complete and submit the easy online sign-up form here.

Step 2: Your dedicated Consultant will call you to assist you with any questions you may have.

Step 3: Email your ID and easy supported documents – which your Consultant will explain.

Step 4: Within a few days you will receive your brand new Company ready to use for Tenders and Contracts, via email. You can contact your Consultant at any time on a toll-free number.

Related: New Fund For Small Businesses To Be Developed

Need a Company fast? Perhaps consider a Shelf Company

Company Partners offer a variety of Shelf Company Options to suit your needs, including 2016- year Registration Number Shelf Companies. Within 24 hours after purchase, you will receive the registered Shelf Company.

You can start using your Company Registration Number and Bank Account (for income) immediately.

Each Shelf Company includes a 2016 Year Registration Number, Free Share Certificates, a Free ‘Tax Number’ and a Free ‘Official BEE Affidavit’.

You can also make use of a Nedbank Business Bank Account that’s active for your Shelf Company.

Luckily, getting your own Shelf Company is easy in terms of compliance. All that’s required is that you are at least 18 years of age, an ID document / Passport and a South African Business Address.

Why use Company Partners to Register a Company?

Fast timeframes: Your Company will be registered fast and effectively online. Your documentation is set-up in less than 24 hours, after which CIPC will process it.

Simple requirements: The only requirement for Company Registration is an ID / Passport. Everything gets done online, so you can be based anywhere in South Africa or the World.

Dedicated Consultant: Your own dedicated professional Consultant takes care of the entire process – he or she is available on his / her email and also on a toll-free number.

Professional Service: With years of experience of representing our Clients in Government, the entire process runs smoothly over the Internet. No lost documents and no frustration.

Company Partners completes all necessary applications correctly and reviews all the paperwork for you. You simply have to wait for your company documents via e-mail, confirming when you may start trading using your registration detail.

Related: Beauty Of Failure: The Art Of Embracing Rejection

After Company Registration

Any new Business needs guidance to prepare for Tenders and Contracts. After Company Partners gets you registered for your Company, Company Partners can assist you through the entire Company start-up process (optional).

That means they will ensure you have everything you need for a Tender or Contract application like a new PTY Company, BEE, Tax Clearance, VAT Registration, Logo Design, Website, Business Plan, COID, Letter of Good Standing, NHBRC, Accounting, Payroll and more.

Get Started

To start, just complete and submit the easy application form here and a friendly Consultant will contact you. Alternatively contact Company Partners toll-free on 0800 007 269 (toll-free from landlines and cell phones).

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Start-up Advice

Alan Knott-Craig Answers Your Questions On Money And Partners

From starting the right business, to managing business partners and finding your magic number, there is a secret to happiness.

Alan Knott-Craig

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If I get rich will I be happy? — JC Lately

Does money equal happiness? Mostly, yes. Research in the US shows that your happiness is proportionate to your earnings up until you earn $80 000 per annum. Thereafter, incremental income gains have a negligible effect on your happiness.

In other words: More money will make you happy as long as you’re poor. Once you break out of poverty and enter a comfortable middle-class existence, more money will not make you happier.

These are the top three for old folks:

  • I wish I’d spent more time with family.
  • I wish I’d taken more risks.
  • I wish I’d travelled more.

Therein lies the secret to happiness. Spend time with your family. Take risks. Travel.

But first, make money. Don’t do any of the above until you’re making enough money not be stressed about money.

Related: Your Questions Answered With Alan Knott-Craig

What is the magic number? — Mushti

The magic number is the amount of money you need to not worry about money ever again. If you don’t need toys like Ferraris, yachts and jets, the magic number is R130 million. Here’s the math: R130 million will earn R9,1 million in interest annually (assuming 7% interest). After tax that is R5,46 million.

Assuming you need 50% to maintain a good lifestyle, that leaves approximately R2,7 million for reinvestment, which is enough to keep your capital amount in touch with inflation for 50 years. The balance of R2,7 million (after tax) is for your living costs. In South Africa, R2,7 million will afford you a lifestyle that allows you to send your kids to a great school and university, to travel overseas a couple of times a year, and to live in a comfortable house.

Over time your living costs (and inflation) will eat into your capital amount. After 50 years you should be down to nil, assuming you earn zero other income in that time.

In 50 years, you will probably be dead. If you’re not dead, your kids will be able to support you (because they love you and they have a great university education).

I am the sole director of a company (the others still have full-time jobs and don’t want to be conflicted) and there is pro-rata shareholding based on our initial shareholder loans. However, I am putting in most of the hard work, together with one of the other actuaries. How best do I manage the director/shareholder dynamic? I obviously want to make as much progress as possible but there are times when I need the input from the others (and their responses aren’t always as quick as I would like). — Mike

If you have any perception of unfairness regarding effort/risk vs reward, deal with it NOW! You can’t do so later. The best approach is honesty. Call your partners together. Explain your thinking. Perhaps argue for 25% ‘sweat equity’ for yourself. Everyone dilutes accordingly. Ideally cut a deal whereby you have an option to pay back all their loans, plus interest, within six months, and you get 100% of equity (unless they quit their jobs and join full-time).

Equity dissent must be resolved long before the business makes money, otherwise it will never be resolved.

Related: Alan Knott-Craig’s Answers On Selling Internationally And Researching Your Idea

What do you think of WiFi in taxis?— Ntembeko

It’s a good idea, but not original. Before embarking on a start-up, you should survey the landscape for competitors. Just because there are none doesn’t mean no one has tried your idea.

It just means that everyone that tried has failed. You need to be 100% sure that you have some ‘edge’ that makes you different from everyone who came before you (and failed). Otherwise you will fail. What is your advantage that is different to everyone who came before?


Read ‘Be A Hero’ today

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Start-up Advice

What You Need To Know About The Lean Start-up Model

The Lean Start-up philosophy was developed by Eric Ries, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur who also sat on venture capital advisory boards. He published The Lean Startup in 2011, igniting a movement around a new way of doing business.

Entrepreneur

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The model follows key precepts that include:

Taking untested products to market

The fact that too many start-ups begin with an idea for a product that they think people want, spending months (or even years) perfecting that product without ever testing it in the market with prospective customers.

When they fail to reach broad uptake from customers, it’s often because they never spoke to prospective customers and determined whether or not the product was interesting. The earlier you can determine customer feedback, the quicker you can adjust your model to suit market needs.

The ‘build-measure-learn’ feedback loop is a core component of lean start-up methodology

The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible. Once the MVP is established, a start-up can work on tuning the engine. This will involve measurement and learning and must include actionable metrics that can demonstrate cause and effect.

Utilising an investigative development method called the ‘Five Whys’

This involves asking simple questions to study and solve problems across the business journey. When this process of measuring and learning is done correctly, it will be clear that a company is either moving the drivers of the business model or not. If not, it is a sign that it is time to pivot or make a structural course correction to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy and engine of growth.

Lean isn’t only about spending less money

It’s also not only about failing fast and as cheaply as possible. It’s about putting a process in place, and following a methodology around product development that allows the business to course correct.

Progress in manufacturing is measured by the production of high quality goods

The unit of progress for lean start-ups is validated learning. This is a rigorous method for demonstrating progress when an entrepreneur is embedded in the soil of extreme uncertainty. Once entrepreneurs embrace validated learning, the development process can shrink substantially. When you focus on figuring the right thing to build — the thing customers want and will pay for, rather than an idea you think is good — you need not spend months waiting for a product beta launch to change the company’s direction. Instead, entrepreneurs can adapt their plans incrementally, inch by inch, minute by minute.

Source: theleanstartup.com

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