This week it was announced that, for the fourth year in a row, Apple is the world’s most valuable brand. The tech giant claimed the top spot with a brand value that grew by 5% from last year, up to $179.2 billion. And, for all of Tim Cook’s recent achievements, most of us would probably regard Steve Jobs as the architect of this success. But, rather than being on a straight road to success from 1976 until his untimely death in 2011, Jobs’s career has been littered with disappointments.
Fired from his own business in 1985, Jobs had previously overseen the launch of Apple III, a computer so bad that it had a 100% failure rate, with every single machine needing to be repaired. The disaster brought the company to its knees and was a contributing factor to the entrepreneur being shown the door. Jobs himself said the machine cost Apple ‘infinite, incalculable amounts’ of money. However, rather than let the machine’s failure or being let go from his own company stop him, he learnt from these missteps and moved forward. After a few years helping found the animation studio Pixar and educational computing company NeXT, he returned to Apple in 1997. He arrived with a new focus on beautiful and innovative design and helped turn the company into what it is today.
His acceptance of failure as a natural part of business is a crucial part of Jobs’s story, and can arguably be considered one of the main reasons for his success. And yet failure continues to hold people back according to a recent study we at Weebly commissioned from YouGov, in which 71% of British entrepreneurs said fear of failure prevents people starting new businesses. In fact, failure is a part of business and, as Jobs has shown, it should be accepted, dealt with and learned from to make a company stronger.
Perhaps one reason for the continued impact of this fear is a lack of knowledge into what technology exists that is specifically designed to help and grow a business. 63% of entrepreneurs in a recent RSA survey said that growing their business was their primary difficulty. Whilst this is tricky, it can be overcome. Digital tools can now help entrepreneurs build an ecommerce store on mobile, refine email marketing and integrate SEO into the same site.
Of course, it is not all plain sailing. Just over half of all businesses do fold in their first five years. But, taking a leaf out of Jobs’s book, this failure can grow both entrepreneurs and businesses alike. Even small failures should not deter entrepreneurs. When Apple launched it’s first ever handheld device, the Apple Newton, in 1993, it was a disaster. It barely worked and cost a fortune. When Jobs returned, he killed off the Newton, but not without recognising that while the device was indeed a failure it also had considerable merits. The failed experiment of the Apple Newton lay the blueprint for the iPhone, now the most popular and best selling handset in the world, and a huge part of why Apple is today the world’s most valuable brand.
If Steve Jobs taught us anything, it is that rather than being deterred by failure, we should learn to embrace it, understand it and learn from it, and we certainly shouldn’t let it prevent us starting new businesses.
By David Rusenko, CEO and founder of Weebly