To describe one of my first loves as a ‘big bag’ might be a little misleading, but it is quite true.
Like any other 16 year-old, relationships were important to me. I wasn’t necessarily looking for it and back then I didn’t realise that teenage love fires entrepreneurial spirit.
But 30 years later, I get goosebumps. And the hairs on my neck stand on stilts when I think of that memorable first encounter. It was like this…
Scene 1 – Nottingham City Centre
It’s a busy autumn Saturday afternoon. The light is fading. Wandering through ‘Blacks – the Outdoor shop’ ahead of catching the 72 city-green bus home to Arnold, my gaze fell on the most beautiful of creations. Emotion swept through me and all logical reasoning went to pieces. I knew we were destined to be together and nothing was going to stop us.
Unfortunately, the twenty-something shop assistant (he wasn’t the apple of my eye) prevented the relationship from flourishing further. With a friendly yet professional air, he informed me that if I wished to whisk my new love, literally from the floor, I would have to part with £39.95. For in 1982, this was the price of a brand new Karrimor Jaguar 4 KS100 rucksack.
Scene 2 – Falling in love
Everything about the rucksack’s style and appearance was stunning. Electric blue in colour, the imperious size and rounded shape oozed confidence and authority.
Gone was the traditional clunky metal frame; built into this revolutionary leader of a pack was an internal figure-hugging system that redefined comfort. Attention to design detail was everywhere; even the thickly padded hip belt included a quick release buckle. And of course, according to it’s large laminated label, Karrimor’s space age ‘KS100’ material was ‘100% waterproof’. In truth, the fabric was so impenetrable, it would have probably stopped bullets.
Scene 3 – How love fires entrepreneurial spirit.
That first meeting probaly changed the course of my life.
Over the next few weeks I scraped and saved enough money to buy the ‘Jag’ rucksack. It then became my hitchhiking companion for over 12 years and travelled thousands of miles with me. But there is a far more important point to this story for marketeers and entrepreneurs.
Walt Isaacson’s brilliant biography of Steve Jobs, describes very succinctly how the founder of Apple learnt how to create and market products successfully. On page 78, the book summarises the three principles Jobs learnt as a young man, to apply to all future products. The three points are:
Focus | Empathy | Impute
Being focused is a very important business mindset. Understanding your customer is vital in order to be able to supply goods that people need and want. The word ‘impute‘ is all about the fact that customers do judge a book by its cover and make decisions on what they see. If the whole message being received is liked and consistent, the customer becomes compelled to purchase very quickly.
Apple now has a reported 150 billion dollars in its bank account. The iPad and iPhone are not cheap but just like my experience with a rucksack, people all over the world have fallen in love with the products because of their design, performance and image. Later on in Isaacson’s book he describes the lengths that Jobs went to in order to make Apple’s hardware and software perfect.
For Steve Jobs, 99.9% just wasn’t good enough. For reference, his hunger and desire to make the very most of his visionary talents is best revealed in this short TED film entitled ‘How to live before you die’.
As entrepreneurs we can learn so much from the Apple revolution and Steve Jobs’ passion for innovation and design perfection. If we think about products or services that we love to purchase and then apply the principles of craftsmanship to our own work, why can’t we make a dent in the universe too?
Teenage love is something we all experience. Teenage love fires entrepreneurial spirit. Memories of buying and using that Jaguar Rucksack remain very strong. You almost certainly have had the same experience and are in a position to use that emotional memory to inform how you take your own ideas and business forward.
Key Learning Points: Long-term business success is built on the creation of services and products that fully resonate with the customer. Being ‘average’ or even ‘good’ is not enough. With ideas, designs, services and products, pay attention to every detail and seek to be different by being brilliant. Achieve this result and you’ll have a very strong and lasting business.