“We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be…good. It better be worth it.” ~ Steve Jobs, Fortune
As most of you know by now, Steve Jobs passed away and what he left behind is breathtaking. Not only did Jobs leave loving relationships with family and friends (for those who had the privilege of intimacy with him), along with massive success and influence, but he also left a legacy for those of us who knew him only by name and fame. He left behind a shining example of passion for what you do and an unyielding commitment to excellence.
New and Fresh
In a recent tweet Anita Campbell says:
“When I think of Steve Jobs I think of how brilliant he was at combining existing technologies and making them seem new and fresh.”
Life is short, but I am left with the reality that if you have a pressing idea or unshakable problem that needs solving, then you need to go about the business of solving it. Chances are if you stick with the problem long enough a new approach or solution is bound to emerge.
“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” ~ Steve Jobs, Inc. Magazine
Even though Apple is in transition in terms of leadership and this loss, it is obvious that there was a plan for changing and training the team members in their new roles. But when I think of small businesses, I know that we often fail to plan for the next generation.
If you intend for your business to survive long after you are gone, then you need to address a few core things today. In the small business community we don’t run large corporations; we run small companies, and when the owner dies he or she often leaves behind a grieving a family that must also figure out what to do with the business, its debts and everything else that goes with death.
Tragedies happen, but preparation can make it easier. You need:
- A team and an opportunity for them to train for their future role;
- a system that documents your way of doing things and the reason why you do it that way. Things will change, and when your team members know your reasons why, it will empower them to make those changes;
- a legal advisor to help you create a will and trust to document (and protect) your plans and intentions for the business;
- a financial buffer so that if there is a lull in business the company can absorb it while the family and friends regroup.
These are just a few core things to get you started. You may also want to consult an estate planner who works with small business owners to plan in greater detail.
Preparation is a part of the strategy and it takes work but it leaves behind relief. We cannot stop death, nor the pain that follows it, but we can help our business make the transition as easily as possible.
“Some people say, ‘Oh, God, if [Jobs] got run over by a bus, Apple would be in trouble.’ And … I think it wouldn’t be a party, but there are really capable people at Apple. My job is to make the whole executive team good enough to be successors, so that’s what I try to do.” ~ Steve Jobs, CNNMoney
For more quotes, check out “A Collection of Inspirational Steve Jobs Quotes About Life, Design and Apple” by Federico Viticci at MacStories.