Why every business owner should aspire to be Steve Jobs


The team at Apple hasn’t been far from the news this week.  Wednesday saw the somewhat contentious launch of the new iPhone 4S and iCloud.  And today sadly heralded the passing of prized ex-CEO, Steve Jobs.

As condolences from around the world roll in, fans are taking a moment to reflect on one of the most innovative minds of our era. Jobs not only founded Apple, but he revived it from near bankruptcy to the tech powerhouse it is today. Estimated to be holding more cash in reserve than the US Reserve Bank, the brand has revolutionized the music, phone and computing industries, with Steve being remembered as the man who ‘personalised the computer and put the internet in your pocket.’

For a man who was famously paid an annual salary at Apple of just $1, he’s made his billions by simply being really good at steering the ship.  He leaves behind an incredible business legacy – one that’s full of great examples for all business owners.

Here’s some things you should do just like Steve.


“Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”

Jobs understood his role at Apple well.  He was in charge of working on the company, not in the company.  Many small business owners get so caught up in the day to day operations of their business, they miss valuable opportunities.  Hire a great team, and trust them to do what they do best.  Accept that you can’t be the master of everything.  Don’t understand marketing?  Hire a marketer.  Not good with numbers?  Get someone in to do your bookwork.  Focus your energies on building your business, rather than doing your admin.


“The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.”

With a the doom and gloom of the recent GFC still fresh in many business owner’s minds and an economy that refuses to stabilize, it’s very tempting as a business owner to start cutting costs and scaling back budgets in response to dwindling sales.  But often, particularly if you scale back on advertising and promotions, it can be a downward spiral in which cost cutting leads to sales decline, which leads to more cost cutting, and so on.  Before you tighten the wallet, have a closer look at what you’re doing, and why.  Can you improve processes?  Can you tweak your offering to make it more attractive to customers?  What are your competitors doing?  Jobs was renowned for not letting budgets get in the way of innovation and great design.


“I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”

Jobs was famous for refusing to look backwards.  He was always looking to the future, to the next product, and demanded that employees did the same.  Similarly, he refused to let failure weigh him down.  Anyone remember the Newton?  What about the Pippin?  Both were colossal failures, but not only did Jobs refuse to dwell on it, but he even went back to the scene of the failure to try again – the Newton is essentially the 1993 version of today’s iPad.  As a business owner, we shouldn’t let one failed product weigh us down, or stifle innovation.  It’s not always easy to come up with a Really Great Idea (as we saw recently at Auckland Startup Weekend), and sometimes a few practice runs are required.  Conversely, don’t be content to rest on your laurels in the glow of a resounding success.  Jobs didn’t relax once the iPhone became a global phenomenon.  He moved onto the iPad.  And then the iCloud.

As the world remembers an amazing mind, let’s honor his legacy, and improve our work by adopting a ‘little bit of Steve’ into the way we run our business.

From all of the team here at MYOB, #loveyourwork Steve!

  • Great post Emma – thanks. I think today’s news will be like other world tragedies (everyone knows where they were when Princess Diana died etc…) For me, the news came as I was sitting down with a number of business media journalists and MYOB’s CEO, Tim Reed. We had gathered over lunch to discuss MYOB’s vision and investment in next generation cloud solutions and to launch the MYOB Business Platform. As we chatted over lunch – it really stuck all of us, the amazing influence and legacy that Steve leaves behind. A sad day, but also a moment to reflect on the amazing vision of a very fine man.