Steve Jobs: 2 Business Secrets from the Co-Founder of Apple Computers

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Recently I stumbled across an obscure video of Steve Jobs from 1997.

In this video, Jobs reveals 2 laws of business success that are behind Apple's incredible success.

These laws are applicable to architecture firms as well.

In fact, not obeying these 2 immutable laws of business is the cause of many firm failures, and the reason why many small firms struggle.

This video starts out as an insult from an audience member at the conference where the video was recorded.

Steve answers the questioner, and in his answer reveals his thinking about building a wildly successful product (or service).

Watch this short (5 min) video above to discover what Steve Jobs has to say about these 2 immutable laws of business:

Law #1

Find out what the customer (client) wants and work backwards from there to create your product (service).

Successful business is about finding out what someone wants and giving it to them.

Too many times I hear from architects that are having trouble selling their services.

“I can't get any leads!” they say.

But is their offering in tune with what their prospective clients really want?

For instance, the Passivhaus design standard is gaining popularity among residential architects.

I understand why architects want to design to the Passivhaus standard – houses built to this standard are environmentally conscious, efficient and comfortable – something we all aspire to as architects.

However, most consumers don't know what Passivhaus is.

And they definitely aren't looking for it – not by that name anyway.

The key is to identify what people really want – comfort, low energy costs, a healthy building, long term quality.

Sell them that first, then start talking about Passivhaus.

It is a mistake to figure out what you are good at, or what you love, and then try to sell that to the market.

Start first with the end in mind. Find out what people really want and give that to them.

Law #2

Sell the result, not the process.

At about 4:14 in the video above, Jobs talks when Apple created the first laser printer.

He talks about all the technology inside of it.

He talks about Apple Talk, Postscript, and this marvelous ‘box.'

But what sells the printer is seeing the piece of paper that comes out of it with words and images on it.

He's talking about selling the result, not the process.

People don't want a printer.

They don't want a toner cartridge or Adobe Postscript software – nor do they care about these things.

What they want is the result they get from the document they are printing.

The result someone really gets from a printer is the result they get from the document – security by having a will, or a better relationship by writing a letter to grandma.

Too many times architects get caught up selling the process about how they deliver their services: BIM, BAM, CDs, Schematic Design, Programming, Contract Administration.

Frankly, most clients don't care about these things.

What they want is a result – profit from their restaurant, good patient outcomes from their hospital, status, safety and comfort from their home.

So there you have it.

2 key business lessons from Steve Jobs.

What other business lessons did you notice from this short clip?

Leave your comment below.



Enoch Bartlett Sears is the founder of the Architect Business Institute, Business of Architecture and co-founder of the Architect Marketing Institute. He helps architects become category leaders in their market. Enoch hosts the #1 rated interview podcast for architects, the Business of Architecture Show where prominent guests like M. Arthur Gensler, Jr. and Thom Mayne share tips and strategies for success in architecture.

7 Responses

  1. I think there was another lessons. Make mistakes and learn from them and don’t be afraid to admit as long as there is a lesson and a method to fix and improve. I am not a Steve Jobs fan but I liked this video very much. Enjoying your podcasts too. Have a great weekend. Jane

  2. Thanks for sharing Enoch. Great stuff! Reminds me of a quote by Armory Davis that I once read and wrote down because it seemed to resonate with much of what we do as architects:

    “People don’t want fuel & electricity, they just want hot showers & cold beer”

    Here’s to having a cold beer and enjoying the upcoming July 4 weekend 😉

    1. +1 Brooke – was awesome to finally meet in person at the NY Summit! Too bad we didn’t get a selfie.

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