I realize that almost anything and everything to say and write about Steve Jobs has been said and written – starting when he first stepped down as CEO of Apple in August and of course since his sad death. But I can’t write about entrepreneurship right now and not focus on lessons from Steve, one of the greatest visionaries and entrepreneurs of all time. So here are some of my favorite of his lessons for entrepreneurs. He was so much more than the CEO of one of the largest global companies, he was also an entrepreneur, like me and like you.
“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
– Steve Jobs in BusinessWeek Interview, May 1998
Lesson: You are the visionary, you see the invisible. Don’t be discouraged by what others think is or isn’t a good idea. When I first had the idea for Liz Lange Maternity, I asked my pregnant friends (the ones who were complaining about the lack of cute maternity clothing) what they thought. None of them liked the idea.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma whatever…”
– Steve Jobs, Stanford University, June 2005
Lesson: You will never know unless you try! None of us has a crystal ball, you won’t know if your new idea will work until you try it. I know that when I started Liz Lange Maternity one of the things that motivated me was the simple notion that if I didn’t do this, and some one else did, I would never forgive myself.
“It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy.”
– Steve Jobs, at a retreat in 1982
Lesson: Wow, I love this quote. There is no greater rush than being in the small boat, you feel every wave and every bump but you can change course on a dime. Once Liz Lange Maternity really took off and we had deals with Nike and Target, and 50+ employees, I yearned for the first couple of years when it was just me and two or three employees – we did feel like pirates!