“Manage your top line and your bottom line will take care of itself.”
I heard Steve Jobs say this in a previously recorded video that was resurrected shortly after Steve announced his resignation as CEO of Apple Computer.
I worked for Apple for almost 8 years – during the time that Steve was not there. I heard stories of his genius and his temper and experienced first-hand, the most fun and innovative culture I’ve ever worked in.
His statement “Manage your top line and your bottom line will take care of itself”, really resonated with me.
I’ve been focusing recently on what it takes to land larger, higher-paying clients and the positive impact that can have on a company‘s profitability.
Steve cited 3 things that must be attended to in managing your top line.
The 3 things are strategy, people & products.
Here is my take on how to focus on those 3 critical elements.
A strategy is an overall plan to achieve specific, generally long-term, goals. It’s an approach, a broad, general roadmap, a way to go about doing business.
A strategy defines how an organization intends to get from where it is now to where it wants to be in the future, perhaps three to five years out. Pursuing Whales to grow revenue is a strategy. Going global is a strategy. Penetrating a specific industry is a strategy. Increasing visibility to raise awareness about a product or service is a strategy. A strategy may include time frames but typically they are ‘end point’ dates.
Focusing on strategy charts the course for the organization. It helps yes/no, go/no-go decisions get made in the short term. Positioning and pricing are outcomes of strategic decisions about what markets to pursue and how.
The best strategy in the world will fall flat on it’s face without competent people to carry it out. Implementing strategy requires a multitude of interdependent decisions to be made. Discerning judgment (a human skill) is a combination of intellect, knowledge, values and intuition. Having the right people in the right positions doing the right things right, can make a strategy come to life and catapult a company to wild success or oblivion.
The third leg of this stool is comprised of the products an enterprise offers. Great strategy and great people can make the most of mediocre products. But great products can overcome (at least for a while) weak strategy and ordinary people. Of course, it’s hard to produce great products with mediocre strategy and people.
Apple likely wouldn’t have designed and produced the iPod, iPhone and iPad without great people. But there was a time, pre-‘i’ era, when those great people churned out lackluster ‘also-ran’ products.
When all great components are present, revenues rise because the company is delivering what the marketplace wants. great people make wise decisions about marketing, research, manufacturing, administration and financial matters. Great products continue to be delivered positioning the company as innovative with a commitment to quality.
Jobs brought a unique perspective and vision to Apple.
So the questions are, What do YOU bring to your firm?
What’s YOUR strategy? Do you have one?
Are you staffed with the right people in the right roles doing the right things right?
Is what you’re offering a match to the market as it is today or tomorrow? Are you even in touch with market needs or are you developing offers in a vacuum and wondering why sales are lagging?
As I’m finishing up this article, I see a tweet that Apple’s stock hit an all-time high today: $411 and change.
Clearly the strategy Jobs espoused is taking the company in the right direction.
Make sure your three legs of this business stool are sitting on solid ground.