Jim's Marketing Blog

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The truth about Steve Jobs, research and planning

Steve Jobs was a remarkable person. Like many, I have studied his career for years and been amazed at what he achieved, in such a very short time.

Steve Jobs, Apple, researchOne of the things that happens whenever someone has a massive impact in any area of life, is that their ideas get misquoted or distorted.

Today’s post looks at one element of Steve Jobs’ work, which is often quoted by small business owners, yet has no foundation in fact. I think you may find it surprising too!

It’s not Steve Jobs’ fault

I was prompted to write this after receiving an email from a reader, who decided to do zero research before starting a new business. She failed to gain a single customer. Here’s an excerpt from what she said, used with her permission, anonymously.

She said:

‘It seemed like a good idea at the time, so I launched it without any planning or research. Steve Jobs never did any research. I thought if it worked for Steve it would work for me. It didn’t!’

Have you spotted the often quoted, incorrect assumption from that quote? It’s that totally incorrect faux-fact that Steve Jobs never did any research. This is absolutely incorrect.

Allow me to explain.

Going with your passion

It makes perfect sense to go with your passion in business. If you get an idea for a product or service and you think it stands a good chance of succeeding, do it! My own business was started that way and I know the same is true for many of the business owners reading this.

Steve Jobs was exceptionally passionate about his work and it shone through everything he did. In fact, people who worked with him often refer to his ability to create a reality distortion field, where he was able to convince them of almost anything he believed in.

Passion is essential. However, to ‘just do it’ as Nike say, and start a business or launch a new product without any planning or research, is extremely short-sighted. This is why someone as intelligent as Steve Jobs would never do that.

That’s right, Steve Jobs knew the value of research and planning. He didn’t become super successful by accident.

Steve Jobs, research and planning

Steve Jobs was the most interesting, fascinating and least understood businessperson I have ever studied. I firmly believe he was a genius and I don’t mean a genius in the, ‘everyone’s a genius’ kind of way. Jobs was truly exceptional.

Now, his approach to business was indeed pragmatic, however, he did indeed invest in research. No, not as heavily as some of his competitors, but in his last year at Apple, Apple invested almost $2Billion in research and development.

I bet that’s the first time you heard of the billions Apple Inc. invested annually, in R and D?

Why? Because it gets in the way of a better (fake) story… the idea that a company can become the most valuable in the world, on the hunches of one man. Steve Jobs knew his own (brilliant) mind and was an exceptionally good decision maker — one of the best if not the best. However, to suggest, as many do, that he did no research and just launched into projects blind, is incorrect. Even a genius appreciates the value of planning, research and development.

If you have an idea for a product or service, go for it. As Steve Job’s said, ‘real artists ship’! Just make sure to do the research and planning, first.

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  1. This is so true Jim – great post. I did some research for a company recently & it showed them they were going in completely the wrong direction. Thankfully the business owner had had the savvy to research first, act second. So much wasted effort could be saved if only time was invested in planning. Although, the right execution is obviously key too.

  2. The interesting thing about being a fiction author is that no matter how crowded or competitive the market is, you can still succeed. Readers will always be looking for that next great book to read.

    But that doesn’t exempt us from research and planning, it just changes the game a bit. It’s far more important for an author to understand their target audience before they begin marketing, and more important to start building an audience before there’s a product for the audience to consume.

    With the way digital publishing is today, anyone can toss a book up on Amazon and sell some books. But it’s those individuals who understand their market, and stick to a system who truly succeed.

  3. Excellent post Jim, I have read several books about Jobs and his methods. He was an excellent leader, but did have his faults as we all do. I have seen many successful businesses arise out of an idea or opportunity and the person take action on it and judt do it. Recently, watched an excellent interview with him called Steve Jobs “The Lost Interview” which was taken after he was ousted from Apple and before he returned to them. I think it was somewhere in the “NEXT Computer” time frame. It was quite fascinating seeing his ability to look into the future.

  4. As always, Jim has done a remarkable job with this post! Great work

  5. Starting a business without doing your homework is like going to a battle unprepared. It’s definitely a recipe for disaster!

  6. It’s quite impressive to see the article of great legend, Steve. Absolutely he has succeeded his milestones in splendid ways with quite short period of time. And Jim, further happy to catch you in your blog. Cheers!

  7. What is they say about the 6 P’s?

    Poor Planning Promotes Piss Poor Performance.

    All too often the highly successful are misquoted or misrepresented in order to corroborate or justify flawed concepts and thinking.

    My work tends to be very bespoke but I’m currently researching and planning a new suite of off the shelf services and digital products that I aim to introduce over the second half of the year.

    All the best Jim,


    • Absolutely, Alex. Those who are too lazy or too poorly informed to do the pre-work LOVE distorting the facts to fit their experience.

      Thanks for the comment, sir.

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