There have been numerous things written about Apple over the years from its famous founder Steve Jobs, its laser focus on building a few things very well, and its innovative design. Jonathan Ive, the man who leads design at Apple was recently profiled in a New Yorker article, which includes a lot of great gems on what makes Apple so successful. While it may seem odd to pull small business lessons from the world’s largest company, it is because Apple still operates as a small team that makes them so successful.
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In an article for Time, rock star Bono once said this about the secret sauce behind Apple’s amazing team:
Oftentimes, it can challenging to compete with the largest incumbents on hiring, especially if you can’t compete with Google on salary. But what if you’re the world’s richest company? Even at Apple, their employees are not entirely motivated by money. Instead, it’s an esprit de corps that’s driven by a shared ownership of building great products.
At Gusto, we believe in this concept of ownership mentality. Being an owner in the company doesn’t necessarily mean owning equity (although for some companies, it is included). It means giving your employees the opportunity to have an imprint on the company’s product/service and its culture. As a small business, you have a unique ability to incorporate your employee’s ideas very quickly and for them to have an impact.
Go the Extra Mile
There’s a famous story about Paul Jobs, Steve’s father. Paul was a craftsman and taught Steve to craft the backs of cabinets and fences properly, even though they were hidden. As Steve said, “He [Paul] loved doing things right. He even cared about the look of the parts you couldn’t see.”
Even with Steve’s passing, this mentality persists at Apple. In the New Yorker piece, there’s a vignette about how Jonathan Ive viewed design:
It’s tempting to cut corners, especially if you’re a scrappy company. But don’t sacrifice quality. Your customers will appreciate going the extra mile. Don’t just deliver what works. Instead, discover what delights! For your business, this could mean giving great service even after the work is completed. There are countless ways to delight your customer; it’s a privilege for a business owner to discover that on their own!
Room for improvement
Going the extra mile doesn’t mean getting everything perfect the first time. Sometimes you want to release a minimum viable product to test with your customers. Or you may even make a mistake. That’s something that happens at Apple too. When the first iPhone launched, it was “missing” a number of features that were already considered standard in the smartphone space. But as Jonathan Ive says about Apple’s development process:
What does that mean for your business? Don’t try to be everything to everyone right away (or maybe ever). Eliminate features or services that are not essential to providing your customers a delightful experience. Leverage help from different vendors, whether it’s in design or development. It’s never been easier to be an entrepreneur and there are a host of tools at your disposal.