International Entrepreneurship: Steve Jobs and Apple Inc. – Part Two

As the field of entrepreneurship continuously evolves and expands to international entrepreneurship, various precepts and themes surface. In light of this, there are many researchers who have and are still learning more about the entire concept behind international entrepreneurship processes. Most of their findings are available in various publications across the globe. From various literature works including books, journals and online resources, it is possible to identify relevant themes illustrating developments in international entrepreneurship. With reference to the case study above, it is possible to outline various themes that characterize research about international entrepreneurs, the entire entrepreneur theory and process, and the development and growth of small businesses to global operators.

Themes in International Entrepreneurship

The themes present in literary works about international entrepreneurship are diverse in nature. They entail a reflection at all stages of the entrepreneurship process starting from its development stage as a small business unit up to its existence as a multinational (Carter & Evans 2012). The themes also cover various issues ranging from embracing technology, product development, quality systems, human resource management, venture capital, ethics and founder characteristics (Richtermeyer 2003, p. 2). With reference to Steve Jobs’ role in playing as an exemplary international entrepreneur while operating both in NeXT Computer Company and in Apple Computer Inc. Some of the dominant themes illustrated by various literatures include among the following:

Culture and Ethnicity

Various entrepreneurship skills depend significantly to an extent on the cultural or ethnical background of the entrepreneurs (Mitchell et al. 2002, p. 9). In fact, a combination of widespread cultural frameworks and social capitalistic theories illustrate the formation of various entrepreneurial ventures (Chand & Ghorbani 2011, p. 593). This is illustrated in Steve Jobs’ venture in Apple. During his early life, Steve lived with his foster father who was a mechanist. By helping and watching his father work, Steve developed a fancy for electronics and gadgetry which he later used to start the Apple Computer Inc. which is today’s giant company representing one of the best international entrepreneurship ventures in the technology industry. Cultural and ethnical backgrounds portray that different cultural backgrounds lead to different entrepreneur ideas (George & Zahra 2002, p. 5). More so, the differences in cultures also manifest themselves by how different entrepreneurs carry out their duties. In short, Steve Jobs’ idea of indulging in technology-based entrepreneurship, although having studied oriental studies in India, illustrates on the potential of cultural backgrounds determining the operations of an entrepreneurship venture.

Family Business

Drawing from various observations, it is clear that family firms are up front as agents representing the global economies (Pérez 2009, p. 136). Through specialization, small family-based entrepreneurship ventures are able to expand and fill niches existing in their field of operation (Ratten 2008, p. 276). The involvement of family-based businesses in dynamic competitive participation in international levels is on the rise. During the start of Apple Computer Inc. in the mid-1970s, all the operations were solely carried out by both Jobs and his friend Wozniak. In fact, the work on the prototype of their first computer, the Apple I, was entirely based inside Steve’s parents’ garage. However, learning that there was a niche for him to fill both in his country and beyond its borders, he empowered what was initially a home-based operation into an internationally accredited company. Steve’s example provides an illustration of how various family firms have successfully integrated intensive studies in organization behavior, finance and strategic management to effectively transform small family businesses to multinational public companies (Casillas, Acedo & Moreno 2007, p. 3).

Technology Entrepreneurship

Essentially, technology entrepreneurship refers to investing in a project that uses and deploys specialized and heterogeneous individuals and assets to develop and capture value for the entire entrepreneurial venture (Garud, Jain & Kumaraswamy 2002, p. 196). Good technology entrepreneurs are distinguished from others in their extensive experimentation and continuity of production of new products, assets, and other attributes which are directly related to advances in the company’s technological and scientific departments. In respect to this, Steve Jobs once said, “Do not let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition” (Bailetti 2012).

From the precepts identified in the definition of technology entrepreneurship, there are a number of elements necessary for proper functionality of international entrepreneurship in the following aspect (Kelley & Rice 2011, p. 55). One of the elements is aiming at ultimate outcomes. This incorporates the creation and capturing of value over the short-run and utilizing the respective outcomes for the respective period. In light of this, Steve Jobs knew that even though the first Macintosh or iPhone was exemplary and customer receptive, it was only so for a short period and more expectations were expected from their users as time went by. The next is the target for the ultimate outcomes. This means having the surety of who best fits the technologically-advanced products. The next is the mechanism applied in outcome delivery. Investment in a technological advancement project requires a visionary entrepreneur who is not afraid to fail or make various decisions strategically (Steensma, Marino & Dickson 2010, p. 951). With reference to Apple Computer Inc., the innovative implementations that enhanced the company’s technological advancement reflect on Steve Jobs’ extended touch in conceptualizing his ideas and visions into material products. Lastly, the technological advancement mechanism must be independent. This means that the individuals practicing technological entrepreneurship are mostly influenced by related works concerning scientific and technological knowledge. This is true even for Apple Computer Inc. Steve Jobs did not invent the computer or the mobile phone. However, through thorough observations and analysis, he was able to understand what niches existed in both industries and came up with optimal solutions to fill them in. Consequently, even though the Macintosh computers and the iPhones were not the first of their kind in the world, they are technologically-engineered in such a way that they meet the requirements of today’s target market far better than any other competing products.

Financing Entrepreneurship

International entrepreneurships, like any other business set-ups, depend upon the key factors of production. The most important of these is the capital (Auken 2002, p. 287). Many entrepreneurs have very good ideas but capital inadequacy limits their expansion to international levels. Operating at global levels requires a lot of resources, especially due to the fact that production will be on the rise and there shall be instances where extensive market research will be necessary. In this respect, good international entrepreneurs must have strategic techniques to raise the required venture capital (Brau 2002, p. 273). In the case of Steve Jobs, he actually sold his personal asset, his Volkswagen microbus, to help in setting up and developing the Apple I. From the sales of Apple I, he was able to finance an extensive production for the other brands that followed the initial product. More so, when he resigned from Apple Computer Inc., he used his share of stock sales to finance his new entrepreneurial venture, the NeXT Computers Company. However, operating in international frontiers requires a lot more financing than one person can individually bear. With respect to this, it is the duty of a visionary international entrepreneur to ensure that the he or she finds the best ways possible to raise enough finances to cover for such ventures (Jones & Tullous 2002, p. 233). Once again, Steve Jobs showed exemplary skills in financing through some vital moves. In December 1980, he facilitated the issue of Apple Computer Inc. shares to the public. More so, he did so with his Pixar Animation Studio in the mid-1990s. Another technique deployed by Steve was corporate merging. While the Apple Computer Inc. suffered a financial downturn, Steve Jobs sold a nonvoting stake of the company to Microsoft Inc. and thus helped stabilize the operations of the company before returning to its productive phase. In short, in as much as an individual harbors visionary business ideas, it is clearly visible that without proper financing, it is impossible to indulge or excel in international entrepreneurship.

Gender Issues

Various studies in gender differences concerning entrepreneurship reveal that the rates of women entrepreneurs, both local and global, are relatively lower than men (Pines, Lerner & Schwartz 2010, p. 187). There is a common understanding that women face relatively greater difficulties in obtaining venture capital than men (Kantor 2002, p. 131). However with respect to this, Steve Jobs being a man had no gender-oriented problem in practicing international entrepreneurship. With respect to the fact that he was a man, many people he shared his dream with starting with his long-time friend and fellow Apple Computer Inc. co-founder, Steve Wozniak, trusted his ability to yield positive performance in his entrepreneurial ventures. In fact, merely due to trust accorded to him as a man, he was able to convince five fellow colleagues to quit Apple Computer Inc. to help him start the NeXT Computer Company after his ousting in 1984.

Social Entrepreneurship

Another important theme featuring in entrepreneurship is having a social aspect in the venture. As the venture expands to international levels, it becomes even more important to put more consideration in social entrepreneurship precepts since the target audience network is relatively wide and diverse (Boeker & Karichalil 2002, p. 818). In short, social entrepreneurship refers to the act of individuals implementing innovations with the aim of providing solutions to important social problems (Ashoka.org 2013). Good social entrepreneurs are visionary, ambitious and persistently engage creation and development of new ideas aiming to bring various wide-scale changes. With reference to Steve Jobs and the entire Apple Computer Inc., provision of quality products for use by people who yearn to differentiate themselves from others in the society is a perfect illustration of social entrepreneurship (Kickul & Gundry 2002 , p. 85).

The basics’ major maxims behind social entrepreneurship are presenting user-friendly, ethical and understandable innovations, and engaging widespread support to so as to maximize the number of local people that will seize the opportunity bestowed by the innovation and make the best from it (BarNir & Smith 2002, p. 119; Steensma, Marino & Dickson 2010). Using the Apple Computer Inc. platform, Steve Jobs played all the important roles of a social entrepreneur. He acted as a change agent for the society as far as computer technology is concerned. He efficiently seized opportunities missed by competitors by inventing better systems, computers, mobile phones and entertainment devices.

Instances of Failure

International entrepreneurship requires a lot of effort and dedication of the practicing individuals. However, several problems inclined to any of the above themes at times befall the international entrepreneurs. One failure happens with reference to the theme of technology entrepreneurs. In some cases, a given innovation may be wrongly timed and fail to meet the consumers’ expectations. This results in failure in sales and possible overall losses. For instance, in Apple Computer Inc., Steve Jobs introduced the LISA and Apple III after successfully selling the previous models. Unfortunately, both models failed to capture the market.

Another major instance of failure comes up when international entrepreneurs indulge in social responsibilities. It is not always guaranteed that what an individual thinks about what the society needs is always right. At times, the society may completely differ with the entrepreneur’s idea regardless of its positive offer. However, this follows genuine reasons usually unforeseen by the social entrepreneur and only dawn unto him or her after the implementation is already done. Before being ousted from Apple Computer Inc., Steve Jobs did a related mistake. He introduced the Macintosh computers for personal use at homes. Unfortunately, they were too expensive and thus did not do well in the market. He tried to market them for corporate use but unfortunately, they had low disk spaces and thus unfit in the corporate market as well. This was a social entrepreneurship error and it played a significant role which resulted in his resignation from the company he had helped establish.

All the same, the above and similar related instances of failure can be solved to avoid future occurrences of similar orientation. The surest way to do so is through carrying out an extensive market research. This is so because whatever the instance of entrepreneurial failure, especially in relation to poor sales volume, the bottom line is always the customers. The surest way to ensure business excellence is through the creation and development steadfast customer satisfaction strategies. Consequently, the best way to do it is by carrying out extensive market research. During his time out of Apple Computer Inc., Steve used his time in NeXT Computer Company to learn and understand more about the customers needs. Thus, during his second tenure in the help of the company’s leadership, he was able to overcome the previous entrepreneurial mistakes he had done.

Conclusion

International entrepreneurship is an important feature in today’s business world. This results from the current globalization trends present in all industrial sectors across the world. Every small and medium-level organization has the capability to extend its operations to international levels through studying the emerging themes in this field. There are many literary works addressing this issue, thus providing the necessary references for new entrants. Therefore, even though international entrepreneurship has significantly taken root, the amount of efforts taken by various individuals to highlight its importance guarantee that international entrepreneurship is a major factor promoting trade in the modern world.

References

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