I finally picked up the Isaacson book on Steve Jobs. Figured enough time has passed to give the proper amount of perspective. It must be a big book because I've spent the past two weekends on it and I am only 50% through according to the Kindle app. As an aside, I am reading it on three devices at the same time, my Kindle Fire, my Nexus 7, and my HTC One. I love how the Kindle app syncs so you can do that easily.
My favorite part so far is how Jobs turned around Apple and did it pretty quickly. He did two primary things as far as I can tell. First, he got his people into the top jobs and got rid of the executives who had been calling the shots before he showed up. And second, he brought focus to the product line, and thus everything else.
There's this great scene in the book where Jobs draws a classic four quadrant chart, consumer and pro on one axis, desktop and laptop on the other. And he says "we are going to make one computer for each quadrant and we are going to kill all of the other product lines".
I am only half way through the book and I am certain that this book should be required reading for any and all entrepreneurs. Jobs is the quintessential entrepreneur and there is so much to be learned from him.
The power of focusing should be at the top of that list. When you focus, you can rid yourslef of extraneous expenses (Jobs laid off over 3,000 people in his turnaround of Apple), you can get your best people focused on the important projects, and you can bring clarity to your marketing and what you want the consumer/customer to think of you for.
Many entrepreneurs and CEOs misjudge how many things they and their team can do well. It is always less than you think. I once was involved in a 75 employee company that was in three different businesses. It took a difficult financing to convince the CEO to exit two of those businesses, but it was the best move that company made. The next three years were a time of explosive growth for that company.
Focus is critical when you are three people, when you are twenty-five people, five hundred people, and ten thousand people. You can always get farther faster by saying no to too many projects and too many priorities. Pick your shots carefully and hit them. That's what Jobs did to turn around Apple and that's what you can do with your company too.