Apple, Work

Apple Most Valuable Public Company of All Time – Lessons for Entrepreneurs

20 Aug 2012. A day that shall remain in the annals of history forever. TechCrunch, an hour ago, broke the news of Apple Inc. becoming the most valuable public company of all time. In fact, I had recently argued with a friend of mine, that within 31 Dec 2012, Apple would become the most valuable company on Earth – and yes, proven right. Apple hasn’t failed me. Once again.

Apple is now the most valuable company of all time, with the Cupertino-based company’s market cap reaching a high of $621 billion. The company’s stock is trading at $664.12 per share, and reached a record price of $664.74 per share in trading today.

Microsoft previously set the record for a public company’s valuation at $618.9 billion in December of 1999. (source: TechCrunch).

Quintessentially, what are the lessons to be learnt?
For the Entrepreneurs, definitely – quite a few.

1. FOCUS IS KEY. Had earlier written a detailed blog post on Steve’s words – “Focus is Key” (reiterated by current Apple CEO, Tim Cook at one of the public conferences recently). Focus – being the only deciding factor between success and failure. After Steve was fired, Apple lost focus. Went on to the verge of bankruptcy (to a point, wherein Apple had just enough capital to pay salaries of Apple employees for forth-coming 90 days only), when Steve Jobs came back in 1997. Cut the product lines, reduced the number of products in pipeline from 350 to 10, sacked the useless middle-tier of suit adorning executives and line managers, and brought some balls back to Apple. Apple focused on what was needed at that time – a shot in the arm – of innovation. And rest is history. Thus, if you’re an Entrepreneur building the next Product of the millennium or simply selling clothes online; FOCUS. Focus on the key things. Focus on the right things that affect your P&L. Rest all is garbage; cast them aside.

2. NEVER STOP INNOVATING. EVEN WHEN YOU’RE AT THE TOP. I believe no one understands this better than executives at Nokia, Motorola, Palm, HP and the likes of MySpace, Orkut and Yahoo!. Once the industry & market & category leaders, these companies showed us brilliantly how to self-destruct themselves to the point of extinction owing to lack of FOCUS and INNOVATION. Always own the key technology, Steve Jobs used to say. None of these companies made an effort to; and thus, now, lying defunct. If you’re an Entrepreneur wherein your website/company builds/offers a product/service wherein Technology plays a key role, make sure you go to all lengths possible to own it.

3. SAY NO TO A 1,000 THINGS. I know this kinda sounds like point #1, but its kinda different. Focusing on the key things are relevant, if and only if, you have the balls to say NO to a 1,000 things. I’ve worked with CEOs who are simply geniuses in Product Development, all aspects of design, marketing & brand promotions – but lost focus too early in the game, since they never were sure, when & where to say NO to a 1,000 things. Thus, if you’re an Entrepreneur, follow this Golden Rule from Steve Jobs – “Make a list in your head. Things that are KEY to driving success for your company; do them; and cast aside everything else“. Follow this rule every week – on Monday. And priorities would clear automatically.

No one on Earth sums this up better than Steve Jobs himself.

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on,” said Jobs. “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. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things.(source: DailyTech)

4. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T FORGET ‘CUSTOMER IS KING’. Have seen such companies, have worked for such companies, have observed such companies. Wherein the entire company worked judiciously for months on a Product/Service, spent thousands of man-hours on finessing it, and finally when it launched, it was a complete dud. Reason WHY? Lost FOCUS; and yes, forgetting about the most important deciding factor for your P&L – CUSTOMER. Steve Jobs was ridiculously fastidious on UI, UX and User adaptability of Apple’s products. Finessing it to nearly perfection – till even a 1.5 year old kid feels comfortable to using an iPod or iPad HD. Reason – laser-guided life-long commitment to “CUSTOMER’S REQUIREMENTS”. Thus, whatever product/service industry you’re in, don’t forget to FOCUS on the CUSTOMER.

Unfortunately, Steve is not with us anymore.
Am sure, he would have been extremely proud of today’s feat.
Hope to see Apple continue on this path of Innovation and yes, breaking new grounds in decades to come.

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