3 Success Tips from Steve Wozniak

Today’s post is brought to you by American Express Canada. Check out their new Amex for Business Canada Page and vote for the winning small business story in the “Take Off with American Express contest.”

I believe that the fastest and most effective way to build a business is to model the strategies of people who have already done what you’re trying to do. I call it Modeling the Masters.

Today we’re going to look at how an entrepreneur whose father didn’t believe he would ever reach his goals set out to follow his passion for computers and built one of the largest companies in the world, quickly proving his father wrong. This is the story of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.

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“Don’t think about the money you don’t have. Rather, what can you do with what you do have?” – Steve Wozniak

Stephen “Woz” Wozniak (born August 11, 1950) is a Polish American computer engineer and programmer who co-founded Apple Inc. While in school, Wozniak tapped into his intense passion for computers and started designing computers on paper based on the theories that he knew. He told his father that he would one day own his own computer. When his father said “Well Steve, they cost as much as a house,” Wozniak replied, “Well, I’ll live in an apartment.”

Wozniak didn’t have friends growing up. He spent his time between his schoolwork and his experiments. Things changed, however, when he met Steve Jobs. With Jobs’ ability to convince people to give them parts, Wozniak went to work on building the Apple I. In 1976, Wozniak and Jobs started Apple together with the goal of making computers a tool everyone could use, not just big corporations.

Today, Apple has over $100 Billion in revenues and is one of the largest 50 companies in the world. In 2000, Wozniak was inducted into the National Hall of Fame and has received honorary degrees from multiple universities. His plan was never to start a company but rather to design computers. Luckily for the world, he decided to do both.

Action Item #1: Don’t Think About the Money You Don’t Have

I can’t tell you how many times I hear from entrepreneurs that they’re not successful because they don’t have enough resources to start. If you look at the stories of most famous entrepreneurs, they didn’t have rich investors giving them a huge cash injection to launch their businesses. It’s not about how much resources you have, it’s about how resourceful you are that will determine your success as an entrepreneur.

Wozniak felt that his best work came from not having a lot of money to get started. It forced him to be creative, make things simpler, and challenge conventional thinking. Being short on funds forced Wozniak to create over 50 designs for a mini-computer before he hit on the right one that would work. He saw it as a personal challenge to create a computer that could be sold to everyone like radios and televisions were and he wasn’t about to let a lack of money hold him back.

According to Wozniak: “When you are a startup or an individual on your own, you don’t have very much money, so the fewer parts you have to buy, the better. When you design with very few parts, everything is so clean and orderly you can understand it more deeply in your head, and that causes you to have fewer bugs. You live and sleep with every little detail of the product… Steve Jobs and I started with literally no money. No cars. The parts we used to create the Apple I were purchased on thirty days credit… Don’t think about the money you don’t have. Rather, what can you do with what you do have?”

Action Item #2: Focus

Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of dedication and hard work. You have a goal for what you want your business to look like and you need to focus your energies and not get distracted until you get there. Don’t let the naysayers convince you that you won’t succeed and don’t give up too early before you’ve given your business enough of a chance to let momentum work in your favour.

Wozniak needed to focus to be productive at Apple. He was stubborn with his ideas, confident that his designs would work, and forced himself to keep going until he solved the problem. It cost him his personal life in those early years but he was a man on a mission and knew exactly what he wanted so he went after it with all the energy he could muster together.

According to Wozniak: “The way I work requires so much concentration. Getting to know the problem well enough by thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking. And then you try every day to make it a little better, go through it again and again, cutting something off here or there… When I was doing this work well, I didn’t have a wife or a girlfriend. I couldn’t do anything else.”

Action Item #3: Partner Up

You can’t do it alone. You either need a really good team around you or you have to partner up with someone else who complements your weaknesses. This seems especially true in technology companies where it’s rarely one person who is the founder of the business. Partnering up isn’t easy. It’s like getting married – you have to really know the person and make sure you’re picking someone you want to be with for the long haul.

Wozniak knew he had a unique set of skills that could revolutionize the way people ran their lives. He realized though that he didn’t have the complete package that would be needed to launch the revolution. He needed someone who wasn’t as inward and quiet as he was. He needed to partner with someone who liked to sell and promote and allow him to focus on the engineering side of the business. Partnering up with Steve Jobs proved to be a perfect match for both of them. Neither of the two could have accomplished the same level of success without each other.

According to Wozniak: “I was shy, he was outward… I created, he sold… I had the incredible technology, which was important when you’re starting up and have very few employees. Steve had this big drive to have a company and he had foresight.”

True Story

Wozniak sold his HP calculator and Steve Jobs sold his Volkswagon van raising $1,300 to fund the launch of Apple. Jobs told Wozniak that even if they were not successful they could at least tell their grandkids they had their own company.

What Do You Think?

How did you get the startup funds to launch? Do you have the right people around you to succeed? What part of Steve Wozniak’s message impacted you the most? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts if you leave a comment below!

To learn more check out my list of Steve Wozniak articles.

Once again, today’s post is brought to you by American Express Canada. Check out their new Amex for Business Canada Page  and vote for the winning small business story in the “Take Off with American Express contest.”

About the Author

I #Believe in entrepreneurs.

120 Responses to “3 Success Tips from Steve Wozniak”

  1. Lana Larder says:

    Hi Evan and Steve,

    All the points in this article are what I live by – focus, don’t think about the money you don’t have, focus on your business and goals, and partner up with like minded people!

    I started my business Halifax Finance Inc. because in 2002, I approached a lending institution for a business loan and was told to “get a husband.” I studied hard and found out about alternative financing and then began to specialize in angel and venture capital investment. I have never stopped focusing and have never found a husband! Laugh out Loud – THanks again!

    1. Wow, thanks for sharing your story Lana!

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  8. Andrew Garson says:

    Thanks for sharing this one Evan. Very Inspiring!

  9. Jensine Statia says:

    Just what I needed…right timing!! Thanks.

    1. Glad you enjoyed! Thanks for commenting Jensine!

  10. Very encouraging. It’s tough out here and seeing this helps. Only one problem, Woz can’t dance.

    1. I’m sure we can forgive him for not being a good dancer :)

  11. Thanks this re-confirms what I already know. I can do this and yes I will continue to search around for a partner who has my vision. I have been working hard to be first to market with a revolutionary mortgage loan for borrowers across the country.

    1. Sounds exciting – best of luck Lauri!

    2. D. H. De Vore says:

      Lauri,

      I am curious about your idea concerning a newly conceived mortgage stategy, especially in today’s market climate. I’m from the U.S. and I can assure you the situation is dire down here, to be sure. Perhaps there is a viable answer for those who may not be able to utilize traditional finance terms.

      Regards,

      D. H. De Vore

      1. What’s your new strategy?

  12. Great info Evan.
    Really valuable knowledge and powerfull words to go ahead with my goals.
    Regards!

    1. Glad I could help Sandro!

  13. kipruto Chirchir says:

    I have loved the above points and Evan I want to live large by them…this has been my struggle but now I can do things differently.

    1. Great to hear Kipruto – time to start implementing!

  14. Stephen says:

    Woooooooow!What a coincidence!!,Am almost setting Up my company but av been stressing alot cz of inadequate funds,am 20 years Old working In a hotel As a dancer while schooling having finished my 1st semister of Accounting and Finance course…I dont earn that much(25,000 kenyan shillings) but am really worried about my financial instabilty..Thank God I have my father who is supporting Me In forming it,but again am kind of scared of afterwards,what can I do????plz help

    1. Good luck with the new business Stephen!

  15. Michael Paul Loritz says:

    The energy, spirit, and guts to go for it. I love these stories, because they keep me going even though I haven’t cracked the code yet. Thank you
    Michael Paul

    1. Keeping working at it Michael! Good luck!

  16. Mary (Mrs) says:

    Thanks Evans,
    I love to read regularly from you too.
    Your opinion is strong and positive.

    1. Thanks Mary! Welcome to the blog!

  17. k says:

    PARTNERING IS REALLY LIKE GETTING MARRIED.IF YOU PARTNER WITH THE WRONG PERSON, YOU EXPECT NOTHING BUT SLEEPLESS NIGHTS AND FAILURE.

    1. Thanks for sharing K!

  18. 3 Success Tips from Steve Wozniak http://t.co/I01O1ZfZ

  19. Evan I have been in the automotive field since 1973. I have been working on a program for 4 to 5 years now that will give the shops as much as 35% to 45% better buying power on thier consumable parts that they now use in thier shops. I now have that in place. It also incudes a door to door prepaid freight program.

    We also have a marketing program that will bring in as much as 500 new faces to thier shops and hold them there for the next 18 months. We can do this for them with no up front monies from them. I know this works because we are doing it now in my own shop.

    Also for the last 4 years i have gone to the SEMA – APPEX trade shows in Las Vegas. I have been helping some Chinese companies with the machines they make for the automotive world. This coming year they will come out to my shop and we will set up talks for a warehouse dist. program. I have told them that with thier manufacture cost they should use a lease program for the machines they make. They can find plenty of room in this market place to make many sells. With a market place of some 120,000 shops in the USA I believe we have a program that will work.

    But her is where i need the help my company is not a sells type businees. I may need help to find just how to make this type of sells work for us. Can you help us find that team???

    Gordon Fordyce
    fordyceauto@msn.com
    fordyceautocenter>com

    1. Gordon – I’ll create a video reply for you.

    2. Gordon, here’s my answer for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGcIS257FXw

      Good luck!

  20. Great read – 3 Success Tips from Steve Wozniak http://t.co/XJyoJCNO via @evancarmichael

  21. atresh says:

    I like what you have say but in fiji it is very hard to start if you don’t have any support.

    1. It’s hard everywhere if you don’t have any support :)

      Don’t think about the support you don’t have, think about what you can do with the support you do have.

  22. gyam this interview enlightened me to have a business mentor. my question is can I have a business coch online says:

    hi Evan,
    This story is very encouraging and as always helps me to keep me going. My business have started called Yang Building Materials aas an alternative construction concrete roof tiles and bricks for the Bhutanese people who import from India almost 95% just now.However, i have also many critics who feel I will not succeed because of fund and etc. But then ur story keep me going after my dream and work very hard. Thanks lot. today’s story about the Apple’s promoters really inspire me and encouraged me. U have been my memtor. Pl help me to get a partner or how to search for a partner. Gyam

    1. Keep pushing forward Gyam – good luck!

  23. Tom Laing says:

    3 Success Tips from Steve Wozniak #willunga http://t.co/36kHyy2L

  24. well done evan , good job

    thanks for the video

    1. Happy to help – thanks for watching!

  25. Steve Ackley says:

    Evan,
    Great story and reminder of what it takes.
    Well told.
    Thank you,
    Steve Ackley

    1. Thanks Steve – I always appreciate your feedback!

  26. Richard Udoh says:

    Do not think about the money you do not have, is a concept I love so much, cause if you do, it shut your mind off on possibilities. Thank for this piece, cus it goes a long way to re-affirm the fact that if we focus enough on our thought,it can be made manifest.

    Cheers,

    Richie!

    1. Great to hear Richie – time to put that thought into action!

  27. Lizzy says:

    Hi, nice peice there. You have got me thininking again. Today I am speaking to a partner and I want to also share the success with you very soon. My ideas are all almost dead. But I am motivated to wake up and wake them up too

    1. Don’t quit Lizzy! :)

  28. Ruthe says:

    VERY INTERESTING EXPERIENCE!

    1. Glad you liked it Ruthe!

  29. Paul Oloo says:

    3 Success Tips from Steve Wozniak
    This is a major eye opener. Many of us have had the wrong way of looking at things . This article has just re-enforced what i have been doing. I will always start and run my businesses using these 3 Tips. These articles have been very useful. Carmichael thanks for these articles.
    regards
    Oloo Paul

    regards

    1. I’m glad the article touched you Paul. Best of luck with your business!

  30. Samuel says:

    Dear Evan,

    As always very inspiring and at the right time. God bless you for sharing this always with us.

    Samuel

    1. Happy to help Samuel – thanks for reading!

  31. Hitesh says:

    Inspiring facts from you. Now I am stop going to look for the money and start my venture asap.

    1. Good luck and thanks for commenting!

  32. Jason Sand says:

    I’ll watch out for more posts like this. I Trust that your posts can help me in my small business.

  33. evelyn says:

    thank you so much for the tips and your newsletters,do have a fun filled cruise with the celebrities and don’t worry they are feeling the same way you are.

  34. As always, thank you for sharing. Is there any other successful story for someone in the cliff between age and health?

    1. Hi – I’m not sure I understand your question. If you can clarify I’d be happy to answer for you.

  35. muli says:

    Dear Evan,
    This is what I needed today. From now onwards, I will focus, focus and focus. Lack of funds will not hinder me from moving to the next level of the business. thanks

    1. Great attitude – good luck!

  36. Joanne Lowe says:

    Thank you, I needed that, time and time again people will tell me to go and get a real job!!!! I am focused and my goal is to get my company up and running in a few months time.

    1. Great to hear Joanne – good luck!

  37. Mediacation says:

    RT @EvanCarmichael: 3 Success Tips from Steve Wozniak http://t.co/sKXR3yM8
    @mediacation1

  38. It`s not about how much resources you have, it`s about how resourceful you are that will determine your success. http://t.co/uXdufjzw

  39. It`s not about how much resources you have, it`s about how resourceful you are that will determine your success. http://t.co/uXdufjzw

  40. Sharath says:

    Thanks Evan. Nice post. A good motivator

    1. No problem – I’m glad you enjoyed Sharath!

  41. Another great one! It only takes 7 mins to change your outlook! RT @EvanCarmichael: 3 Success Tips from Steve Wozniak http://t.co/6mtztonp

  42. RT @mediacation1: RT @EvanCarmichael 3 Success Tips from Steve Wozniak http://t.co/nKRlupI1

  43. 3 Success Tips from Steve Wozniak http://t.co/1j4G1dkM

  44. Johnson Maduka says:

    Thanks plenty to Evans you are the motivational lord. I’av been enjoying all your articles but this one is quit moving. More of it mentor.

  45. Leila says:

    Hi Evan,
    I rather liked the part about ‘partnerships’ being like a marriage. “Would we want to spend the rest of our lives with that person?”
    Ha! Ha!
    Leila

  46. Jennifer Demy says:

    nice post! Keep it up!

  47. Jason Sand says:

    it reminds me of myself. Thanks for posting Evan!

  48. Arlene Watson says:

    worth reading. Very inspiring!

  49. Anna Fleming says:

    My friend recommend this article to me and I found it very inspiring. Woz’amazing!

  50. Alexander Orall Amoah says:

    Thanks a dozen, Evan for this a soul-moving piece. I have so many business ideas but unable to start any of them because of money. I think I have to look for partners right away. Thank you.

    1. I’m glad I could help Alexander – good luck!

  51. Don’t think about the money you don’t have, Focus, and Partner Up http://t.co/VzVYiJCR

  52. RT @EvanCarmichael: 3 Success Tips from Steve Wozniak http://t.co/MbKhDKpb

  53. rashid says:

    I’m a very successful person. Like Woz, I always take the challenge and end up fulfilled!

    1. Great to hear Rashid – congrats!

  54. andy garlan says:

    Interesting piece Evan. Thanks for posting this. I’ll watch out for more soon!

  55. Fredrick Fowler says:

    Dear Even,
    I so look forward to watching your videos, they are not only informative, and filled with nuggets that will help me grow, they are very positive, uplifting, and inspirational. All of the things that I need along my pathway to my ultimate success.
    Thank you Very Much.
    Fredrick Fowler

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Fredrick – good luck!

  56. Partnering up isn`t easy. It`s like getting married – you have to really know the person. http://t.co/uXdufjzw

  57. UDUAK LAW says:

    Partnering up isn`t easy. It`s like getting married – you have to really know the person. http://t.co/uXdufjzw

  58. oluwarotimi says:

    thank very much for this post! it is really interesting! THANKS

    1. Glad you enjoyed – thanks for commenting!

  59. Partnering up isn`t easy. It`s like getting married – you have to really know the person. http://t.co/uXdufjzw

  60. Suzanne VanB says:

    Partnering up isn`t easy. It`s like getting married – you have to really know the person. http://t.co/uXdufjzw

  61. DirectLink says:

    Partnering up isn`t easy. It`s like getting married – you have to really know the person. http://t.co/uXdufjzw

  62. wanda murphy says:

    Partnering up isn`t easy. It`s like getting married – you have to really know the person. http://t.co/uXdufjzw

  63. Idowu Segun Femi says:

    You can only know a resourceful man in the face of financial challenges, challenges are stepping stones to greater success in life

    1. Thanks for sharing Idowu!

  64. rmeziani says:

    3 Success Tips from Steve Wozniak – http://t.co/Wh2bR0HX

  65. katrina says:

    I totally agree with Woz “Partnering up isn`t easy. It`s like getting married – you have to really know the person”

  66. Wendy B. says:

    I’ve seen most of your videos and all of them never fail to provide a very important learning. Keep it up Evan!

  67. jeff says:

    Wow! It’s a very inspiring piece you have here Evan.

  68. Wozniak sold his HP calculator and Steve Jobs sold his Volkswagon van raising $1,300 to fund the launch of Apple. http://t.co/uXdufjzw

  69. TheMafiaBoss says:

    Wozniak sold his HP calculator and Steve Jobs sold his Volkswagon van raising $1,300 to fund the launch of Apple. http://t.co/uXdufjzw

  70. Celeste. says:

    Wozniak sold his HP calculator and Steve Jobs sold his Volkswagon van raising $1,300 to fund the launch of Apple. http://t.co/uXdufjzw

  71. Bonnie Diaz says:

    Wozniak sold his HP calculator and Steve Jobs sold his Volkswagon van raising $1,300 to fund the launch of Apple. http://t.co/uXdufjzw

  72. Great article from @evancarmichael on success tips from Steve Wozniak. http://t.co/h9ugsxWc

  73. Wozniak sold his HP calculator and Steve Jobs sold his Volkswagon van raising $1,300 to fund the launch of Apple. http://t.co/uXdufjzw

  74. rj says:

    selecting a partner isn’t easy indeed.

  75. barbara n. says:

    Action Item #1: Don’t Think About the Money You Don’t Have – I always have wanted to make my business bigger. what I do is I never use my profit for personal use instead I use it for more investment.

    Action Item #2: Focus – My goal everyday is to earn more than I earn yesterday.

    Action Item #3: Partner Up – Two heads is better than one.

  76. jm dee says:

    I hope everyone gets a chance to read this article. Cheers to the author!

  77. merry says:

    Partner Up – you need to partner up with a trustworthy person.

  78. cindy_f says:

    I’m also an Entrepreneur. I think the most important thing in business is you should have a positive attitude.

  79. RT @EvanCarmichael: 3 Success Tips from Steve Wozniak http://t.co/7waRAuYP

  80. “entrepreneur whose father didn’t believe he would ever reach his goals set out to follow his passion for computers”

    Well I do not support this statement because, his father had taught everything about electronics and gave him a place to know what ever he wants to. Woz’s father was very supportive. Check out iWoz book about the biography of Steve Woz. Hope u correct it :) rest was perfect, thanks for sharing such a wonderful tip.

  81. Danny says:

    This was awesome! Whenever the Woz talks, I listen :)

    1. Glad you liked it Danny!

  82. Eric Strait says:

    RT @EvanCarmichael: 3 Success Tips from Steve Wozniak http://t.co/KUyMvPa4

  83. Love this, short sweet and to the points! RT @EvanCarmichael: 3 Success Tips from Steve Wozniak http://t.co/09xor5gd

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