Last weekend my laptop’s logic board went on walkabout. This happened with almost no warning, bright and early on Saturday morning. Saturday morning, you should know, is when I catch up on the all the blogs, videos, suggested websites, etc. that I have found during the week but been unable to get to. So while Sunday is still reserved for the old media NYT, Saturday is a day of digital consumption. So when my logic board made my laptop into a silver paperweight I was a little frustrated. But then an amazing thing happened…the Apple retail experience.

Raising the Bar
I knew that I needed a trip to the Genius Bar but with my laptop out, was dreading the wait, etc. That’s when I heard a little voice in my head saying “there’s an app for that”. The Apple Store app allowed me to schedule my genius bar appointment and now my rainy Saturday-at-the-mall horror story was not feeling so scary. 15 minutes after my on-time appointment began, it was done. Logic board ordered, contact info confirmed and I was on my way. As I was leaving there was no doubt in my mind that Apple has redefined the retail experience, setting a high bar for everyone else. But the thing that made me smile the most was that everyone said that they were crazy for opening stores in the first place.

Apples & Mortar
On May 15, 2001, Apple announced that it would open 25 retail stores across the U.S. in 2001. On May 21 Apple announced that its first two retail locations welcomed over 7,700 people and sold a combined total of $599,000 of merchandise during their first two day weekend. “We are blown away with the numbers,” said Steve Jobs in the Apple press release (read here) The numbers seem quaint compared to last month’s iPhone 4 traffic. But what was most noticeable at the time was how wrong-footed Apple’s strategy seemed at the time. The same day that Apple released its ‘amazing’ first weekend results BusinessWeek ran a commentary article by Cliff Edwards entitled, wait for it…..”Sorry, Steve: Here’s Why Apple Stores Won’t Work.” (read here) In the article David A. Goldstein, president of researcher Channel Marketing Corp. is quoted as follows, “I give them two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake.” The article ends with this classic line, “Maybe it’s time Steve Jobs stopped thinking quite so differently.”

Entrepreneurs are told everyday why their vision/product/dream/company will not work. Many launch products to a quaint beginning not the blockbuster they imagined. But real entrepreneurs understand the irony on the final line of the BusinessWeek article. It’s not that Jobs won’t stop thinking differently, it’s that he can’t. With that said here are my

3 Tips for Da’Crazies
1. Surround yourself with other crazies. Find a co-working space or networking group that you can use to recharge your battery.
2. Remember that it is better to have launched and lost then to have never launched at all (adapted adage and potential new line of Hallmark #FastFail cards)
3. JFDI – Just F**king Do It! Small business are the engine of the economy creating jobs and improved lives for millions. It is your patriotic duty to start that company.

In all seriousness, some ideas are crazy but most are born of passion and creativity. As an start-up entrepreneur your critics are not likely to be industry big wigs and their criticism not covered in the national press. So keep at it and listen to customers (potential or actual) not critics. And whatever you do, DO NOT stop thinking differently!


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