There are a handful of companies that will forever be celebrated by entrepreneurs for reaching unheard of levels of success in non-traditional ways. Apple is one of these companies. It solved problems we weren’t even aware we had, by providing us with technology we couldn’t previously fathom.
Apple’s success is largely due to the stream of innovative products it has released over the years, but the way the business operates deserves credit as well. Steve Jobs set clear expectations at the top and made sure they flowed down through the rest of the company.
There have been countless articles and books written for entrepreneurs on lessons that can be learned from Apple. But it's these four things any entrepreneur can learn from Apple and apply to their business.
1. Have a powerful solution, but present it simply
Whether it’s the personal computer, digital music player, smartphone or tablet, Apple has been at the forefront of some of the greatest innovations of our time. Before these products were integrated into the way we go about our daily lives, they were new concepts that we had to wrap our heads around. Apple has always done an excellent job of demonstrating great value in a simple way.
Apple ads commonly feature one of its slick-looking products against a white background, with a short yet compelling tagline. “The internet in your pocket,” “Home stereo. Reinvented,” and “It just works” are a few examples. Sometimes these taglines get a little cute but they are always clear and to the point. When it comes time to convey the value of your offering, sum up all its benefits as simply as possible. Try to avoid rambling on about features or – in the case of a print/visual ad – cluttering it with copy.
2. Be logical
Apple products are often recognized for their logical design and usability. The interface makes sense. Buttons are where they are suppose to be. It’s a direct line from point A to point B.
Creating a company that offers a logical product or service can be more difficult than it seems, especially if your idea truly is innovative and you don’t have a blueprint to work off of. Google has mastered the concept of packaging their innovative new ideas in a clear way.
In fact, the first item on their list of company values is “focus on the user and all else will follow.” It’s unlikely that that the first few versions of your offering will be ready for market so be sure to constantly test and incorporate user feedback. It’s easy to fall in love with your brainchild but always be open to input, particularly from your customers.
3. Constantly provide your customers with pleasant experiences
Over the years, Apple users have come to expect a specific experience in all their interactions with the company. The look and feel of products and interfaces remains consistent but the experience extends far beyond the product. Apple stores around the world are close to identical, the use of white space in their ads permeates their product design and customers consistently rave about their support.
Apple loyalists know they’re in for a pleasant experience whenever they encounter the company, so they keep coming back. The younger and smaller your company is, the easier it should be to achieve and retain consistency. As an entrepreneur, you should set your expectations from the start and keep them in mind whenever decisions are being made. Even consider incorporating the principles you are passionate about into your company’s mission statement and values so your staff can always keep them in the forefront of their minds.
4. Have a consistent voice and personality
For years, Jobs was the face of Apple. He was so much more than the typical founder/CEO, who is profiled in magazine features and speaks at industry conferences. Instead, he came to represent the brilliance of Apple and inspired an entire generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.
Even though there were countless minds that contributed to Apple’s groundbreaking products, it was Jobs who showed them to the world. We all came to expect that when he took the stage at Macworld, there was a good chance we were going to be blown away. Come up with a specific image you want your business to have and consistently strive to project it. If you tap yourself as the spokesperson, consider applying your own personality to the company so you can be yourself when speaking about your company.
Richard Branson of Virgin and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook have successfully followed Jobs; route. Branson and Virgin are lively, cutting-edge and daring. Zuckerberg is young, hip, and unique. Customers feel like they know about as much about these guys as they do about the companies they run.
By following the points outlined here, any entrepreneur can build a company in the mold of Apple. Never deviate from the principles of consistency, simplicity and logic and you’ll be in good shape to achieve success.
Dave Anderson is a marketing outreach writer for Xero, based in the US.
Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription, an Idealog t-shirt and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).