The value you value is the value you create.
Entrepreneurship is about creating value. Period.
Any product, service or idea you’re selling to the world means nothing unless it creates value for them. Mind you, the biggest problem you’re going to face is convincing these guys that the value you’re creating for them is valuable enough for them to buy.
So the simplest thing to do if you’re looking to stay an entrepreneur long time or just survive the initial struggle and make it to the big leagues some day down the line…
Stick to your value system.
If the work you’re doing isn’t creating a value you don’t count as your highest value, don’t do it. Yes, I didn’t say one of your highest values, I didn’t say one your greatest values.. I said highest value as in a singular value that you could swear by or live or die proving the worth of.
Let’s take an example starting from Steve Jobs again continuing forwards from the last part.
Do you think Steve Jobs would’ve been able to build a company like Next and arm twist Apple into buying it just to have him on board if he had let’s say.. suddenly decided to go chasing profits instead of innovating? Nope.
And let me tell you in the long term, the investors and stakeholders know this and can see this and call you on your BS point blank if they see you diverging from your core values.
That has happened so many times!
Take the example of Microsoft.
Tell me why the ‘idea’ of a Windows Phone failed?
No Steve Ballmer wasn’t the Trojan Horse who supposedly invaded and subsequently drove Nokia to the ground as we would like to believe. It isn’t that simple. It was simpler.
Microsoft has always been and still is a company that caters to Enterprises and businesses. That’s what they’re good at and that’s the value they’ve been creating for decades. Suddenly people saw them focusing on mastering the consumer game trying to lap up some of the neat profits Google and Apple had their hands on with the entire ‘personal ecosystem’ thing going on and just like that.. everyone called them out.
To tell you the truth, Lumia wasn’t even that bad. Seriously, it looked good and they could’ve done a lot more with it if they had just decided to create value the way they had been creating it forever: By thinking about the enterprises as a priority.
What did they do? They went about experimenting with something completely different and way out of their market image and brand image. The whole move had ‘competition’ and ‘profit’ written all over it.
Now look at how they’ve returned to the market running as the OS in these new design ‘yoga’ laptops that are also tablets you can turn them into by unhooking the screen from the keyboard and swiveling the screen both ways.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but those are actually selling these days. Yes not a lot of them but quite a bit. Why?
Simple, if I’m manager running a team of marketing professionals who could use something that doubles up as a display during meetings and lets me work on them when I’m making reports at the end of the day, I would prefer these new Microsoft laptops really. What’s not to like? MS Office is something we’ve been using forever. The first question we ask people over here when hiring them for data entry or accounting jobs is “Can you work Excel?”
Now you may say to me: “C’mon Jay, India isn’t the whole world. Damn right it isn’t but we have 1/7th the population of the entire planet and we’ve got more people hunting jobs, working jobs and running around doing jobs this moment than the entire workforce on the continent of Europe!
Think about why Apple gradually shifted its focus away from the laptop segments to making better tablets?
Remember this “Computer? What’s a computer?” commercial?
Well make as much fun of it as you want, joke’s on you. My 6 year old niece may well grow up unable to recognize what these clunky things are that I’m hammering away on at the moment.
You want to know why?
Because podcasts are the future, vlogs are the future, ebooks are the future, mobile first platforms are the future and picking those things out from iTunes is the future!
Apple did the smart thing by realizing it wouldn’t always be able to adjust the size of the screens on their flagship offering to keep up the pretense of ‘innovating for the future’. Well they made other changes in that area like the airpods but you see the point I’m making?
Take the example of Jaguar being bought by TATA an Indian company.
I’ll tell you why irrespective of how well Jaguar is or isn’t doing, this move catapulted Ratan Tata, the man in this picture to be among the the most loved CEOs in India or even Asia!
The guy has not budged from the simplest focus his predecessors have laid down that creates exponential value for them across all their businesses:
“Bringing the Pride back to India”
Hear me out seriously! Studying Indian businesses today is among the best lessons in Management you are likely to find anywhere.
The TATAs basically control arterial industries in India. From salt manufacturing to car and steel manufacturing, to owning the prestigious Taj Brand of hotels, this group is practically regarded as the FIRST industrial family of India.
They gave India her first indegeniously manufactured car: ‘Indica’. Then they gave the people the cheapest car in the world: ‘Nano’. They manufacture trucks and buses on a large scale that are all the rage in African countries due to their heavy duty design and robustness.
They bought one of the largest Steel company in the UK, ‘Corus’. Then they bought the biggest tea company in the UK, ‘Tetley’ and got Indians hooked to the taste of Earl Grey and Green Tea…. see where I’m going with this?
Buying Jaguar Land Rover practically immortalized Ratan Tata and the TATA name.
In short, purchases and acquisitions made by them in one area of their vast operations has helped them gain trust and expansion in other arms of their operations. That’s the power of sticking to the value you’re creating. How can we be sure that this value is actually in line with the core values of the TATAs at least as perceived by the masses?
Well, the TATAs practically built independent India and were arguably the only company developing capital goods after India won her freedom. JRD Tata, the father of Indian aviation and scion of the TATA group, was the first pilot of independent India.
Need I point out that the TATAs were the ones to give India her first airline? TATA airlines, which is known today as Indian Airlines.
Create the value YOU value. Simple.
Take the example of Google.
With an initial unsuccessful run in the social media game with Orkut and then Google+, they decided to junk the whole thing completely and move on to perfecting the art of extracting data to sell while making your job easier.
Orkut and Google+ were both neither here nor there as social mediums and it’s a lot easier to just have a paid version of Youtube to drive the additional ‘direct’ revenue.
Facebook on the other hand has stuck to the ‘bringing the world closer’ value and it’s a lot more convenient now to just share Facebook videos on Whatsapp. The ‘picture in picture’ feature ensures that sharing videos and watching them without leaving the application is actually a ‘seamless experience’.
In the same way for Microsoft, acquiring Linkedin was once again a move to overcompensate for straying off their defined ‘value system’. However, you cannot disagree that Bill Gates was always the more ‘expansionist’ compared to his peer Steve.
Why, Bill is the reason most people in third world countries had access to a decent OS at all! You can always source used PC parts to put together a decent machine that can run Windows for you and use it to build websites, write code, do accounts or make your project but you can’t do that with a Mac.
Bill always saw the opportunity in capturing the market and making a profit out of convenience of both parties at the cost of ‘experience’. So coming back on the Linkedin acquisition, what better place to expand into than a networking platform full of people who mostly probably think the same way. Also, it’s not even that I’m sure. It’s the AI engines feeding MS the data they need to gain the lost trust with enterprises.
Does creating value and ensuring it resonates with your own core value mean you never experiment and risk being stereotyped?
Of course not. If that were the case Tesla would have had to shut shop the day Elon Musk came up with the ridiculous idea of flame thrower. However, note the word here ‘Ridiculous‘.
It’s the kind of word that best describes the idea of setting up a human colony on Mars don’t you think?
That’s the point. The proof is in the pudding.
‘Experiment’, in the right direction keeping your core value at its foundation.
Even if that core value is ‘ridiculous’.
I’m including a couple of links below to videos that will help you tap into the mindset of this article and grasp this concept from a more profound perspective.
That’s all for today. Come back tomorrow for part number 3 of 7.