Much has already been written about how Steve Jobs was one of the most influential technology leaders of this generation. Whether you agreed with his management style or not, he changed the face of the technology world multiple times and in ways that no one thought possible. Jobs is seemingly quoted throughout the internet a million times for his thoughts on leadership, product development and how companies and leaders should work.
But his ideas are not just for high-tech startups. Small businesses can gain plenty of insight from how the Apple co-founder led his company.
Jobs was so influential partly because of his outspoken style but mostly because he instrumented the design of so much of today’s consumer technology. So much of what Silicon Valley startups aim to accomplish is to become a small Steve Jobs in the world. We all want to make an impact on the day-to-day life of the customers we serve and partners we work with.
For my team at Propelware, our Autofy platform is building new ways for companies to integrate cloud and desktop applications together so they can talk to and stay in sync with each other. We see it as changing the face of small businesses by making it easier to run and build a business.
Below are the best quotes from Steve Jobs that have influenced us at Propelware and that other small businesses and tech startups should embrace:
- “I’m as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.”
- “We’re just enthusiastic about what we do.”
- “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
- “I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
- “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”
Business leaders should take note of these quotes on leadership because they are all centered on the quality of the people and teams that you work with. So much of leadership and success in a business are based on how a team works together. It’s not just the quality of the people and how smart they are but in how enthusiastic, creative and mature they are. To me, having a great team is something that can be built by having quality people who work cohesively and excitedly together.
- “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.”
- “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.”
These quotes always stick with me in creative sessions when we’re working on new features for our platform. Whether you’re working on doing something extremely technical like integrate Salesforce data with QuickBooks or high-level user interface design sessions, these quotes will remind you that, as employees of high-tech companies, building new things is kind of like trying to see around the corner. It takes a lot of intuition and listening, but, often, technologists have to just flat out know the market and how to differentiate our product from anything else out there.
Within our company, I’ve come see many of these quotes as being incredibly useful, having a large impact on how we build our business. Whether it’s about having enthusiasm about what we do and how we lead or the ways we build our product, what Jobs had to say is timeless for small businesses and tech startups.
Data integration, for example, may not be a sexy new phone or consumer device, but the design and processes your company uses to build a product still makes much of what Jobs did and said relevant to your company and customers. Turning a complex problem into a really simple user interface or a sales process that’s been simplified for end users to use and buy the product requires the same methodology that Jobs employed at Apple.
I love this one last quote that Jobs is famous for. It really hits me when I think about any tech startup or small business that works in a fast-changing world: “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”
It reminds us to push innovation forward knowing that we can’t be perfect every time. But if we do this often enough and always stay at the forefront of innovation and focus on small continual improvements, we will reach our ultimate business goals.