Immortalize Your Business: 4 Lessons From Apple

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With the rise of a huge number of copycat services that try to capitalize on the success of one venture without providing much in the way of differentiation or innovation, it is incredibly important to learn from the masters of innovation so that you can avoid falling in a similar trap.
The Economist ran a piece on Apple Inc. and the company’s turnaround from bankruptcy to becoming truly iconic and here are 4 lessons you can learn from the “master of innovation”.
1. Innovation can come from without as well as within: Not all innovation has to be manufactured from scratch. Oftentimes it is stitching ideas together to make a more seamless experience that is more important. A lot of the MySpace versus Facebook argument (at least when the latter of the two was in its nascent stages) comes down to this lesson.
2. Designing new products around the needs of the user: Too often we see companies fall for the misguided belief that if they can force enough features into a product, the package will sell itself. However, what is actually required and more often seen succeeding is fewer features that are developed around the needs of the users and executed in an intuitive way.
3. Sometimes ignore what the market says it wants today: While listening to the user and the market is important most of the time, if you get stuck listening to the market there will be no room for innovation. Not only that, but sometimes the market doesn’t know what it wants until you create it. We didn’t know we wanted Digg until it came along, and the same can be said for most technologies we take for granted today.
4. Fail wisely: We all make mistakes and that is perfectly fine. Google made mistakes by not completely disclosing the privacy concerns with Gmail, Facebook stumbled when it changed account notification and mini-feed settings resulting in widespread backlash, and Digg had similar problems with the HD-DVD fiasco, but none of these companies are alone. It is okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. It is an important part of the growth of any venture. One of the reasons Eric Schmidt was hired at Google was because of the business failures he had in the past and what the founders of the company believed he had learned from those failures.
These lessons may seem obvious and can seem like second nature once you read them but you’d be surprised how even giants in their fields fail to acknowledge these basic principles.

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  • Kent schnepp

    I agree with #2 “Designing new products around the needs of the user.” Too many companies think they know what the user wants or try to build a product that delivers everything the user doesn’t need. Understand what your users want and build a product that delivers exactly what they want. Apple has done an exceptional job and remaining focused and user oriented.

  • Suzanne Obermire

    I especially like Tip #4–Fail Wisely. It’s so true that often what you learn from a mistake benefits you tenfold down the road. It’s similar to quick and appropriate problem resolution for a client can help cement that relationship. The client won’t remember that you screwed up, he/she will remember how you made it better. It truly is how you deal with an issue, or how gracefully you ‘fail’ that paves the way for future success.