Promises that every startup has to make to the legendary Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs AppleI believe there has been a sudden vacuum created with the untimely demise of a great legend – Steve Jobs. This vacuum can only be filled with a few more crazy ones. People/Startups who prefer not to play around with the rules as a captain, but rather change the game as a pirate.

Another strange incidence that happened was a sudden down pour of articles on how Steve inspired and changed the way people work. I agree to a few of them, not all. The disagreement is not to doubt about what Steve gave us, but this disagreement relates to our capability of taking and utilizing a mindset that Steve had.

Its easier to read a book, be inspired and say Wow! This has changed the way I think. It’s rather difficult to really change your actions from the learning. I believe rather than adding one more article in the huge pile of what I learnt (learned if you are in the US) from Steve Jobs, i would rather prefer to highlight what I plan to do. Because to do is greater than to learn.

5 promises that every enterprising individual like you and me should make to this legend Steve Jobs!

i Will never sell myself cheap

We have this innate ability to mimic any fancy thing that we see. I believe it just justifies our evolution from monkeys. We however do realize that we need to differentiate in some aspect to create an identity. So all we have learnt is to rip off other businesses and just say I am same as (insert your inspiration company/product here) BUT I am cheaper!

Being cheap is a crime. To start – it seems as if you will drill your market share. But in the long run, you actually kill the market itself! No one gets a share when there is no market in existence. Don’t sell yourself cheap. Charge a bloody premium and then give a service so that the customer differentiates what is a class and what is mass.

i Will add value that just blows off the users mind

Steve jobs was enterprising and Apple, a HUGE startup. One of the favorite Steve Jobs quotes that I liked was –

My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to make them better.

Being easy is being similar to the receiver. To empathize. This is not a good way to differentiate. You can’t make better things by always building upon stuff which is always there. At times you need radical changes. And though adding value and being radical may sound as a huge task it might really not be that difficult. You need to step back and look at the situation and just humbly ask yourself (as Steve did) – There will be a better way to do this… It is then that you start adding value to a place which immediately seems like a huge gap in the overcrowded market

i Will always deliver a fantastic experience

Steve redefined everything into one word ‘experience’. Think about it. From luxury cars to a basic meal the only common thing that you consume is – ‘experience’ and Steve mastered that very well. Whether it is about the slick iOS interface, the looks of a Mac or the presentation style of Steve Jobs. He understood what an experience is and knew inside out how to make it sheer awesome.

As Startups we get immense benefit of adapting to the users requirement. Enough opportunities to interact. Even as professionals we often shake hands more number of times than we inhale. Every moment is a part of the experience that we provide. Are we capitalizing enough on it? What can be done to differentiate how the consumer experiences our service?

i Will Design products and make it worth more than others think

I could have clubbed this thought with the point about experience; but talking about Steve and not acknowledging the Design and aesthetics that he brought to the consumer durables industry would be a crime. However, even before talking about Design we need to understand what it actually is. I believe Steve’s definition was way better than what a design school teaches –

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service

Steve knew that as (normal) human beings we not only understand but connect well to simple things. Design of a product works much more than just a differentiator. It can redefine the whole product and even the whole category itself.

i Will have an eye for details and be bold

Design, Experience, Awesomeness all seems good to achieve targets but none can be achieved without getting down and dirty with the product. You need to get into details and yet not forget the bigger picture. And when you get into details the biggest challenge is decision making. This happens every single second.

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.

Be Bold enough to make the right choices

It comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much.

It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them

i Won’t be a captain when I can be a pirate

The most important part is having Fun. Fun not in the way we perceive it today. Fun is in living the way you actually want to live. Fun is taking bold decisions. Fun is being on your face.

Shouldn’t Steve donate more money? Shouldn’t I be allowed to sync with more devices? Shouldn’t this and Shouldn’t that?

All the questions and piercing headlines together couldn’t move the man an inch away from his ideology. And he sold each and every product that he made. That is fun! Thats what I understand as to be a pirate.

Starting up. Selling deals. Executing Projects. Changing the world. All can either be a root cause of stress or be a life altering experience, only if we want it to be that way.

I believe Steve has touched your lives in a million ways but more important are those 1 or 2 traits that you will imbibe in yourself. Which one are these?

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{ 3 comments }

Ramesh Bishnoi October 19, 2011 at 10:54 am

Thanks for nice article and sharing your action-items.

W.r.t. point # 1, I believe, it is each individual who has to decide if they want to develop Costly Apple category (i*) of products (for Class) or Cheaper Micromax / Spice kind of Products (for Masses). The world (especially huge population in emerging markets, which is termed as mass-market) need both of them (Micromax is selling more than a million mobile phones every month in India, within favorite price range of 2-4K INR), at their own places.

W.r.t. all other points, I totally agree with you i.e. The Necessity for providing Value Adds, better Experience & better Design (in completeness) for any kind of deliverables (products/services).

Himanshu Chanda October 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Thanks for the comment Ramesh.

I understand the thought process you have. However I believe we need to understand the difference between competitive and cheap. To build a product and differentiate it on the grounds on being cheap is a crime.

Yes Apple charges a premium. However do note that there are a million more who are ready to pay this premium. Pricing is a fine art. Regarding players like Micromax? I would rather also pitch in Motorola or Samsung who are making VFM (Value for Money) gadgets. They are trying to pitch every segment with a phone. That is there way of doing business.

My intention was to highlight not to be cheap at the cost of quality. Charge a premium if the product requires so. And to wind up I would leave with the thought that if you concur to the other 4 points – Can we really make something that blows of user’s mind and delivers a fantastic experience and still comes in the ‘cheap’ category ?

Pradeep October 22, 2011 at 5:32 am

Awesome Post once again.
Can’t agree more on the point that pricing is an art.

Liked all of the points and clearly if one can make these promises to himself/herself chances are they will succeed.

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