Commentary: Steve Jobs: Small business role model

November 9, 2011 

There is no doubt that Steve Jobs made an impact on many of our lives because of his technology achievements, but how about his impact as a role model for small business owners? Like many small businesses, Apple has had to compete with huge companies who owned the majority of the market share. Steve Jobs was the catalyst that helped Apple come from the brink of extinction and turned them into the most valuable company in the world.

The term “Reality Distortion field” has been used to describe Jobs ability to convince everyone around that he was right. It was originally coined in the early days of Apple during the development of the Mac. Developers tell stories of being convinced that delivery dates could be met when they never thought they could make it. The same phrase was used more recently to describe the product demonstrations that Jobs performed.

He was like a kid in a candy store as he described every new feature. The energy he gave off was contagious and by the end he convinced you and everyone else that this new gadget was a must have and you could not live without it.

In tough times, small business owners need their own reality distortion field to keep employees motivated and inject energy into sales and marketing.

While charming and motivating others, Steve Jobs derived his motivation from a relentless focus on the customer. That true focus on the needs of the customer gave us a simple interface on the iPhone, a click when you plug ear buds into your iPod, and even “pretty” motherboards inside your Mac. A story made popular by the book “Inside Steve’s Brain” details the pre-launch of the iPod. Just before the launch, Jobs ordered the engineers to swap out the head phones that were to be given to the press and find ones that made a nice click sound when you plugged them in. Many may have thought a click sound was a small issue, but Jobs knew that customers needed it and therefore they had to deliver. Using an Apple product is an experience and every moment of that experience should be amazing. Earlier in his career, Jobs had the motherboard inside a Mac redesigned because it didn’t look good enough. He didn’t want customers to open a Mac and not enjoy the experience. You can see a similar customer focus by Zappo’s, another small business that rose to greatness.

By following the examples of Steve Jobs, small businesses can not only honor his memory, but also achieve success.

Stephen Jaynes, vice president of sales at xByte Technologies, can be reached at or 941-358-9770.

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