Startup Launch – is it easier or harder than it was for apple?

In today’s current society with Millennials and Gen Z, there is more focus now on starting a business and being a successful entrepreneur than ever before.  The idea of starting something on your own, being your own boss, and not having a “job” has a certain appeal.  There are good examples of this: Facebook, Airbnb and Uber are companies that a lot of people would have never thought would be successful but have become some of the biggest businesses in the world. But for every one of these huge successes we hear about, there are millions of failures: apps that never get the funding and failed entrepreneurs.  So is it as easy as people think to be an entrepreneur, or was it easier in the days of Apple?

In a recent conversation between Apple Co-founder, Steve Wozniak (Woz), and the World’s #1 Wealth and Business Coach, JT Foxx, the two talk about startups, how Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs started Apple, how they managed to pull it off, what challenges they faced that most entrepreneurs and startups face, and if it could still be done today.

JT – When starting your business, how much of it was ‘fake it til you make it’ in the beginning?

Woz – I was just the engineer at the time. Steve Jobs did everything including all the business and marketing. Those were his decisions, and he was really good at finding low cost ways to do things, and I think that’s very important in starting a business. We looked like a company, but because it was such an early stage of business and nobody thought we really were a business, it didn’t matter then that we were working out of a garage.

JT – Would it be the same starting a business now? Two guys getting together, one still has a job, and one has all these ideas?

Woz – Yes it would, but to turn out to be something as big as apple and something of this magnitude would be very seldom. I say it can happen though because look at Facebook, it was done in a dorm room with people who believed in and wanted something great, so they worked hard to achieve it. And look at Uber…that is huge now.

 JT – Every business goes through challenges. It doesn’t matter who you are. What were some of your earliest challenges and what did you do to resolve them?

Woz – We were in a rare situation. While other companies had small computers, we were doing something so advanced and something others hadn’t thought about. We got advice that we’ve followed since the beginning- to price our products high so we wouldn’t have to keep going out to get more money. We could have sold our products much cheaper but we decided against it as we wanted to create our brand that way.

JT – How many times earlier on did you consider leaving your partnership with Steve?

 Woz – I never did. Firstly, because he was a childhood friend and I wouldn’t leave a friend, and I wouldn’t have done this with anyone other than Steve. Our personalities are very different; he wanted to be out front, leading the company, and I wanted to avoid conflict and do my engineering quietly. I always thought it was amazing that I was getting paid a salary for doing something that I would be doing for free if it wasn’t for this business.

JT – What was the best advice that your partner, Steve Jobs, gave you?

Woz – He didn’t really give me any advice at all (laughs). He didn’t know anything about engineering so he couldn’t really come in and help, but after the designs were done he could then determine what would go into a product. But he did make mistakes over and over. Many people said that I was the brains and did everything and Steve was just the marketer, but that’s not true, he took my designs and knew how to turn them in a sellable product. He didn’t come up with all the marketing, we had other people that also came up with it.

JT – Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon,  said that if he was Apple, he would have lowered the price of iPhones and controlled all of the market- iPhone being a very expensive phone, it controls a smaller amount of the market and is very profitable, but not everyone can afford it.

Woz – There is no sure answer for that because some companies can be successful with that strategy, but Apple has been successful with being more expensive and more desired. We have been that way since day one. We have stuck to what we wanted to do.

JT – What is the reason that you still collect a paycheck every month from Apple as employee number 1? Is it a symbolic to you?

Woz – It is symbolic, yes. I don’t really do work for apple anymore. My take home pay is $50 per week. It’s very low but this is the most important thing I’ve done in my life and I am the only person that has been on that payroll every month since it started.

JT – What does the word “ risk “mean to you?

Woz – Putting something that’s valuable to you, that will hurt you to give up and are making a sacrifice in hopes that it’s pans out to something bigger.

JT – What is the biggest risk you have taken?

 Woz – Probably marriages (laughs) no, it would be investing in friend’s companies.

JT – Is that because you were too nice or because you actually believed in it?

Woz – It was because I had too much money and I really didn’t care, which actually really isn’t a risk if you think about it. But as far as Apple, I mean we had no money, we had no bank accounts, we had to come up with a few hundred dollars each. Steve sold a van and I sold my most precious possession, my HP calculator, and that was hard.

JT – How do you define failure?

Woz – I can define failure in a lot of different ways. Failure makes you want to cry and feel bad things, but I have a philosophy against that, set yourself up for failure. If you bet money at a casino, you’ve already put in your head that you could lose it. I had a lot of ideas and made a lot of things that Steve could have sold for a few thousand dollars, but nothing that was worth millions. Eventually, all of those ideas led me to something that is worth millions now.

JT – I have to ask, what are your thoughts on me, JT Foxx?

Woz – I am mesmerized by the way you think about business. You have that ability to move people. I have never seen anyone come close to being similar to Steve jobs as you. You have a very fast, versatile mind, and you can see things the way they should be seen.

 

It doesn’t matter if it’s Apple or an idea you have right now, being an entrepreneur and creating something comes down to the same basics: doing something different. Are you solving a problem? Doing it different or doing it better?  The most innovative businesses have come out of finding a way to do just that.

Never give up. If the idea is great… really, really great, you have to stick it out.  Nothing happens over night, so you have to be willing to put in the work to really build and create something.  If you don’t have a workable idea, that is a different story, but if you do, you have to give it all you got.  The parable comes to mind of the image where the person stops digging for gold when they are finally only inches away, could you only be inches from your big break.

Don’t be afraid of failure; everyone fails, but it’s how you learn, adapt, and grow from the failure.  Figure out what went wrong, why it didn’t work and how you can create something even greater out of the failure.  That’s exactly what the greats do.

A big difference today that wasn’t available in the time of Apple is the access to funding.  Today, there is an hotbed of people just looking for the right idea to invest in to be that idea that takes them to the next level.  That level of investors and VC funding wasn’t as readily available in the days of Apple’s start.  Giving startups in today’s world a big advantage, that wasn’t there before.

Wozniak is a phenomenal entrepreneur, and everyone who is starting out as an entrepreneur can learn a lot of things from him. He has been there, and he has gone through the struggle and knows how hard it is to make something for yourself. Starting a business can be tricky, but if you believe in it enough, you can do it. Wozniak always says failure is pain and it is, there is no denying that, but when you’re going through hell, keep going because as cliché as it sounds, there is a light at the end of the tunnel if you are persistent enough to reach it.