How Steve Jobs Transformed Apple (Part One)

Whether your an Apple fan or not, you have to pay attention to what Steve Jobs as done for Apple. To be honest, I’ve been amazed by what he has accomplished. From “Inside Steve’s Brain” by Learner Kahney…

“Jobs pulled Apple from the brink of bankruptcy, and in ten years he’s made the company bigger and healthier than it’s ever been. He’s tripled Apple’s annual sales, doubled the Mac’s market share, and increased Apple’s stock 1,300 percent. Apple is making more money and shipping more computers than ever before, thanks to a string of hit products–and one giant blockbuster.”

And this was before the iPad! Job’s is a true rags to riches story. In fact, he sold his car to fund Apple when the company was initially started. By the age of 25, he was worth more than a hundred million after Apple went public. The amazing part is he has never been motivated by money. Instead, he was motivated to make durable products, which were simple to use.

What most people might not remember is that Jobs was actually pushed out of Apple by a CEO hired by his partner. After his departure, the company lost focus and got into several different markets trying to compete with everyone in the computer industry. This course of action brought the company to the edge of bankruptcy. However, a string of events brought Steve back to the company. His job was to turn the mess around and this he has certainly done.

Here’s a question for you to consider…

If lack of focus can take a billion dollar company down, what impact can it have on your business?

Jobs eliminated every product that wasn’t profitable. This required laying off thousands of people. This decision also let go of millions of dollars invested into products, which were not fully developed. However, these tough decisions were required in order to get the company back to profitability. Jobs would frequently say that if it wasn’t making a profit, it had to go.

You have to give up certain opportunities in your business, to build a stronger, more profitable business. Job’s once said, “Focus means saying no.

When I talk to real estate agents, I often find that they are actually copying Apple’s failed business plan by trying to be everything to everyone. They’ll take any listing, work with any buyer and do just about anything to make a commission.

Zero focus.
Zero specialization.
Zero innovation.

And these same agents have trouble telling a prospective client “No.”

“The most important thing Jobs did was to radically simplify Apple’s product pipeline. Jobs drew a very simple two-by-two grid on the whiteboard. Across the top he wrote “Consumer” and “Professional,” and down the side, “Portable” and “Desktop.” Here was Apple’s new product strategy. Just four machines: two notebooks and two desktops, aimed at either consumers or professional users. Apple was in the computer business, and that meant it had to focus on computers.”

To Jobs, this was a key point. Most people in the industry wanted Apple to sell lower priced computers. However,  Jobs resisted this strategy because he didn’t want to compete with Dell, Compag and Gateway. In fact, he felt they were all racing to the bottom. The only distinguishing difference between these brands was the price.

Instead of taking on Dell with the cheapest possible computer, Apple would make first-class products to make enough profit to keep developing more first-class products. But Apple goes after the most profitable segment of the market, not the highest number of machines.”

This last sentence is probably the most important lesson you can extract from what Jobs did at Apple. Jobs focused on the most profitable segment of the market.

What is the most profitable segment of your real estate market?
Who is your most profitable client?

These are important questions for you to consistently consider for your business. Unfortunately, the most profitable segment tends to change with time. What was profitable previously, may not be
the most profitable segment going forward and you have to adjust your business accordingly.

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