Peter Meyer is a global business consultant. In his work, and as a frequent guest on my radio program, my friend Peter has proposed that the highest possibility of entrepreneurial success comes from identifying a customer desire first and then creating a solution. Let’s call this the Meyer Model: Solution follows desire.
For almost all entrepreneurs, Peter’s idea about entrepreneurial pursuits is absolutely the right one. But in our universe there is a microbeam of entrepreneurial energy for which the Meyer Model just doesn’t work, and we should all thank our lucky stars for that.
You probably didn’t know Steve Jobs, but he knew you. The iconic co-founder of Apple, too soon taken from us, knew what you wanted before you knew you wanted it. Let’s call that the Jobs Model: Desire follows solution.
To be sure, there have been others like Jobs. Indeed, the Jobs Model could be named for geniuses like Bell, Edison or Marconi. But, as Peter points out in Creating and Dominating New Markets (Amacom 2002), for every one of these successful visionaries, there are thousands who failed with a solution in search of a problem. Their failure wasn’t because they weren’t entrepreneurial enough; they just used the wrong model. This will be on the test: For all but a tiny number of entrepreneurial geniuses, the Meyer Model – customer problem first, then solution – is the high-percentage play.
Understanding these odds, it’s easy to see that most of us should focus our entrepreneurial energy as Peter recommends, rather than try to be like Steve, Alexander, Thomas or Guglielmo. But here’s good news: You can follow the Meyer Model and still be like Steve.
Steve was an innovator. You are too, but to really be like Steve, you must never stop innovating. Steve was customer focused like you; it’s just that you ask customers what they want first. Steve was on an uncompromising quest for excellence. Of all the things we know about Jobs that you should and can emulate, this has to be on top of the list – always seek excellence.
The world is a better place for the entrepreneurial energy of Steve Jobs. But that doesn’t make your efforts any less important. In the aggregate, more success and contribution has been achieved because entrepreneurs like you followed the Meyer Model: Ask what customers want, then create and deliver that.
Rest in peace, Steve Jobs; we’re glad you knew us.
I’ve talked with several guests on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show about Steve Jobs’ legacy from technology to entrepreneurship to medicine. Click here to listen to our tributes.