Proper entrepreneurial management skills have been a significant stumbling block to many existing and new firms in most industries (Amar 2000). In a bid to lower down the risk posed by lack of this knowledge, many business firms have come up with entrepreneurial awareness programs, which aim at raising skills in entrepreneurship, conceptual depth, managerial applicability, and methodology rigor. According to Abrams, through such campaigns, the odds of slow entrepreneurial success have been reduced to a commendable degree (2010, p.24).
This paper focuses on Apple Company, a multinational company located in the United States of America. It aims to give a deeper practical illustration of some entrepreneurial challenges facing many companies (Chelsie 2005). Therefore, Apple Company will be a case study that used to expose some challenges faced by many established and new firms in different industries. I will also provide possible solutions to either fully do away with the discussed challenges or mitigate them (Helft 2007).
Apple Company Background
The formation of Apple Company dates back to the 1st April 1976 established by three associates: Ronald Wayne, Steve Wozniak, and Steve Jobs. Originally, it was formed with an intention to sell Apple 1, a motherboard housing a RAM, CPU, and textual-video microchips. It was fully incorporated as a company in 3rd January 1977.According to Culliton, it later upgraded Apple II in 16th April 1977 and started to produce improved products to gain a stronger position in the market (2012, p.1).
Its Macintosh launch in 1984 was a brilliant move that enabled the company to stabilize its position in the market. It's success, however, was not long for the company since in later years, the Macintosh sale drastically dropped due to its limited range of access to software and relatively high price. Sales volume later changed with the invention of laser writer, which was the mere first laser printer, and a page maker. These were sold at reasonable prices and retailed in many shops locally. This put Macintosh in an even better position since it had advanced graphical features (Yue 2012).
Currently, Apple Company makes consumer electronic, personal computers, mobile phones, and computer software. Its common products in the market are electronics such as Macintosh computers, iPhones, iPods, and iPads and software such as OS X, iTune browsers, iOS operating system, iWork, and iLife suites. Latest statistics indicates that “Apple Company is the third largest phone makers after Samsung and Nokia” (Culliton 2012). Culliton adds that as on “July 2011, this company had 364 retail shops in more than thirteen countries” (including China) besides iTunes Store and Apple Store (2012, p. 1). International stock index also indicates that Apple Company is the highest publically-traded corporation worldwide by market capitalization. According to Culliton, as on September 2011, this company had 2900 temporary employees and 60400 permanent employees worldwide (2012, p.1).
The Fall of Apple Company
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These confusing models ended up being disastrous to the company since its consumers could not differentiate them. The company worsened the situation when they experimented with some products that failed in the market. Some of these products are “digital cameras, portable CD video and audio players, video consoles, TV appliances, and video consoles” (Spinelli, Birley & Rosenberg, 2010). The company invested a lot of resources in these experiments, which plunged it into serious market crisis. In fact, its stock price and market share dropped tremendously. It was even a worse blow to the company when it could not record any selling of Apple II in late 1993 (Culliton 2012).
Microsoft used this opportunity to take over the market share initially dominated by the Apple Company. It focused on producing several versions of Windows and other cheaper software for personal computers. These products substituted Apple’s deeply researched, but expensive products. Apple tried to defend its inventions by suing Microsoft for copying their graphical user interface. This did not yield any fruit since this case in court dragged on for several years and was eventually dismissed. Apple ended up experiencing a series of drops in sales of most of its products within this period (Culliton 2012). It is due to this rise and fall that I delved into researching the entrepreneurial mismanagement that caused this mess.
Approaches Used To Measure Entrepreneurship in Apple Company
My research on this company primarily relied on online materials and several books from different libraries. I accessed company's website and other relevant materials to understand the past, present, and projected feature of the company. Besides this, I read several entrepreneurial materials, which guided me while writing this entrepreneurial management plan. My judgement of this company’s entrepreneurialism was, therefore, fully based on entrepreneurial and statistical materials I could access on the Internet and in the libraries I visited.
From my research I discovered that Apple Company, just like any other company, has several specific and general challenges. Some of crucial specific challenges are discussed below.
1. Maintaining the Apple Persona
Top management of Apple company is in a process of leadership transition. This state of affairs causes some unpredictability and uncertainty regarding the future shape of management. Steve Jobs, the outgoing chief executive officer, was handing power to Timothy Cook. Some associates of the firm predict that it might be extremely challenging for the organization to go on enjoying the fruits of its hard work without Jobs, who was described as a strong vision leader, a man who understood technology, art, market, and could combine all these elements to come up with complex products. Besides this, he had charisma that enabled him to come up and spread persuasive message to all Apple consumers, thus creating an efficient and effective buzz campaign (Culliton 2012).
Current management staff of Apple Company, therefore, has an exceptionally enormous task of maintaining the market position held by the company. This, therefore, raises a managerial question "will managers have the ability to maintain company’s identity?" For instance, Timothy Cook, the current chief executive officer of the company, has received criticism for low entrepreneurial skills and lack of creative mind and experience. The rise of Cook to this position is controversial to many people. With this kind of criticism of management, mistrust and disloyalty are prone to emanate. At the end of the day, this state of affairs will lead to employee dissatisfaction. Effects of employee dissatisfaction to any entrepreneurship firm can be particularly adverse and might result in a drop of market sales or company's full bankruptcy (Culliton 2012).
2. Growth in Management
Statistics indicate that Apple Company is growing in size at a remarkably fast rate. Its rates are at 75%, while other companies in the same industry, such as IBM and Microsoft, have shown a revenue growth of 1.61% and 4.67% respectively. This year, Apple Company has projected total expenditure of roughly $8 billion (annual) of revenue, which translates into 100% capital expenditure increase. $900 million is intended to fund Apple store global expansion, majorly in China. The CEO is of the opinion that China is the "key" to Apple Company’s future. Besides this, another crucial area to be developed is ICloud technology. For this kind of expansion plans to be effective to the latter, it calls for proper entrepreneurial management skills (Culliton 2012). Does current management have what it needs for this large expansion?
It is important to note that previous company’s CEO has encouraged strong organization skills since he joined in 1998. He has significantly improved the condition of the company since its pre-collapsing condition in 1998. He successfully managed to renovate the messed up infrastructure of the company and made the company start compete with Microsoft again. However, these organizational skills should not be confused with leadership and managerial skills. Cook will have a tremendously hard task of convincing people that he can push the company to greater heights (Culliton 2012).
3. Regaining Public Confidence and Imagination
Personalities fully dictate the kind of behaviour, attitude, and characters we portray (Birley & Muzyka 2000). A person might try to make adjustments so that his or her characters suit the position held in an organization and ensure that the duties are dispended as expected. This might work in the short run. In the long run, one will slowly switch back to his or her natural being. This particular aspect will either ruin or help build up Apple Company. In the modern democratic world, managers are expected to practice open-door leadership, where opinion or positive criticism from workers are taken positively. Employees have to be involved in decision making, which should take a bottom-up approach but not an up-bottom approach. Proper communication skills have to be cultivated with the management being on the lead (Culliton 2012).
Steve Jobs, one of the managers in Apple, was hugely impressive and captivating in his speeches. Within a remarkably short time of his speeches, he was able to capture attention of his audience. On the other hand, Cook seems to be as good speaker as Jobs. Kathleen Culliton (2012, p.1) explains, “in Cook’s commencement speech at Auburn University, he spent a delightful two minutes talking failure and perseverance, without on e personal reference”. Comparing the two, Jobs could earn public confidence in the company more quickly than Cook. This, therefore, creates a need for proper training to company’s employees so as to build proper interpersonal communication skills among company’s employees (Culliton 2012).
4. Technological Challenge
Technology is one of the emerging issues that are growing at an abnormal speed. Many scientists are involved in deep research as far as new skills in technology are concerned. This has lead to the dynamic nature of technology, which changes day in day out. All companies worldwide, either small or large, are directly affected by the change in technology (Bygrave & Zacharakis 2004). In fact, established companies have used this as a competitive strategy against other smaller and establishing companies. Apple Company is, therefore, no exception from this natural rule. It has to be always on the move to ensure that it invents new and better gadgets that will compete with complex products from other competing firms (Edwards & Sarah 1999). If I can judge from Apple’s latest mobile phone, iPhone 5, I can comfortably conclude that Apple’s innovation seems to be dying off. iPhone is somehow marginal, instead of being a radical improvement. It could be better if the company improved the phone’s technological attributes and physical attributes (Culliton 2012).
5. Stiff Competition
Competition is what decides the nature of a market, be it on demand or the supply side. In particular, competition shapes up all participants in a free market system whereby the superior quality of producer’s product and consumer preference determines the position of a producer in the market (Izard 2010). So far, Apple has successfully occupied and defended its position in the market. Apple is one of firms that have taken a considerable share in the communication market besides Nokia and Samsung. The latest Nokia research (NASDAQ:RIMM) has given Apple extremely challenging time. On the other hand, Samsung has come up with a smartphone named Samsung Galaxy, which had substantial sales. Furthermore, Apple’s two blockbuster products, iPhone and iPad, faced serious challenges. Its tablet invention is facing stiff competition from the amazon.com online seller, which released its Kindle reader few months ago. On the other hand, Google android mobile phones are offering stiffer competition and this might be worse if Google manages to incorporate Motorola Mobility (Culliton 2012).
Statistics indicate that Apple Company has a precedent that targets leading it guidance by a large margin. Covering analysts, therefore, estimate that expected future results will be above guidance. Secondly, the electronic and phone market has an estimated capitalization of $560 billion. This is a risk to many firms operating in this industry. Therefore, there is a need for investors to get the reality of this quoted figure. Thirdly, there is too much intervention in this technology field both by local governments and the international community. Many analysts have argued for and against the claim that has been raised against technology companies for the past years. In particular, Apple is currently attracting political attention, thus a need to regulate this trend to accelerate its forward thrust (Culliton 2012, p.1).
Challenges discussed above can either benefit or destroy Apple Company. They will bring down the company if they are ignored and left to take of itself. On the other hand, if the management realizes the effect that these challenges will have on the long-term survival of the company and thus make effort to eliminate them completely, the company will experience success in later years. Below, some recommendations are discussed, which if implemented by the Apple management, can help solve the problem.
1. Proper Training
Apple Company should have competent and well experienced training personnel, who can reach all of the organization employees globally (Jensen 2001). This personnel will be tasked with a responsibility of scheduling periodical training programs for all employees in the organization, including the executive management. In this case, training can be described as a planned, systematic, and procedural approach of giving knowledge, attitude, and skill through practical learning experience to employees in their different fields of specialization to achieve better performance of tasks. Through this method, employees will acquire new skills and better knowledge so that they could do their best as far as competency is concerned (Judson 2004).
Proper orientation training, job training, safety training, promotional training, refresher training, and remedial training should be conducted regularly. This kind of approach will bridge the gap between what a person is required to do in a particular tasks and what he or she is actually doing (Little 2005). Through this kind of programs the company will:
- Generally experience higher productivity due to improved performance;
- Achieve a uniform and procedural performance of tasks and thus improve the quality of goods and services;
- Employees will need less time to reach expected performance level and thus fewer expenses will be incurred on learning;
- Experience a reduced wastage of through spillage and breakage as well as economical utilization of the available resources;
- Spend less time supervising its employees because employees will be motivated and thus will need less control;
- Experience fewer accidents since employees will gain the right procedure in handling their tasks and can follow the safety precautions to the later;
- High employee morale and positive attitude in their work;
- Employees will not resist any positive change that intends to improve company's performance.
Moreover, proper training should also be organized for the top management. As it can be seen from the above discussion, some associates of Apple Company do not have confidence in Timothy Cook, the new CEO (Culliton 2012). It is evident that Cook does not have the charisma to propel the organization to greater heights. This leadership weakness can be reduced if all managers participate in proper training programs. Good leadership qualities involve integrity, dedication, magnanimity, openness, creativity, fairness, assertiveness, and a sense of humour (Lynn 2007).
2. Change with the Changing Times
Technology is one of the emerging issues in the modern society that is changing extremely fast (Mohr 2008). Any company, be it manufacturing, distributing, or consultancy, needs to change with changing times if they have to remain in competition (Ramsey 2011). Apple Company is even in a worse state because it produces technological gadgets. This means that this company should be on the lading front to propel change in technology. Apple Company should, therefore, have proper, experienced, and competent personnel with extremely innovative minds.
To achieve this, the employee recruitment process should be handled cautiously. The steps in recruiting employees should strictly be followed so as to ensure that competent employees who can give their best are given chances to apply their skills (Ries 2011). The personnel department should be highly transparent in the selection and avoid any biasness such as personal bias, hallo effect, constant errors, projections, leniency, being stereotypical and others while selecting. Proper interview norms should be followed to minimize chances of errors in selection (Spinelli & Timmons 2003).
3. A Good Marketing Personnel
Market is a vital component in all profit making and non-profit making organizations. This is the only channel that can the spirit, values, morals, goods, and services of an organization (Strauss 2008). In a business aspect, it can be viewed as a channel through which organization’s products are sold, but it is important to remember that selling makes a small fraction of marketing. Indeed, no organization can thrive, meet its goals, and perform to the projected levels if massive investment in marketing is not made. This is because it is only through marketing that a direct link between an organization and the community (including all shareholders) can be established. In other words, marketing communicates what is happening in a company to customers, suppliers, debtors, creditors, and stakeholders, and, on the other hand, communicates public opinion to the company (Shulman & Stallkamp 2003).
Proper marketing will therefore, satisfy all needs of the several players through establishing long term relationship and exchange processes (Byrne. 2011, p.22). I am certain that Apple Company is and will invent several new technologies. How can their customers get to know the strength of these new products? It calls for competent marketing personnel that can use several channels to reach the customers and convince them to buy. A product might not be remarkably strong as compared to other competing ones, but brilliant marketing personnel with convincing interpersonal communication skills can make customers buy it. On the other hand, marketing department can collect opinion from its consumers about their preferences. They can welcome suggestions from customers on improvement to be made on available products and what they desire in future products. Through this, Apple Company will be able to make customised products, which only assures them of a ready market. This will also earn customer trust and loyalty to the company (Rogak 1999).
- Its communication enables "top of mind" customer awareness;
- Customised brands command sizeable market and premium prices;
- Satisfied customers send referrals and feel a sense of ownership besides having perceived values;
- Proper marketing can create an easily replicated system;
- Good revenue streams assures a company of present and later profits;
- Satisfied employees can be true ambassadors to the company;
- Good human relation personnel.
It seems that both shareholders and stakeholders of Apple are not certain of what to expect from Cook’s leadership. They doubt his leadership skills and question his capacity to dispense the expected duties. In the first place, this is awrong stand and can easily bring down the company (Bhide 2000). Biased criticism and mistrust can easily arise and threaten the achievement of legitimate goals Cook might be having for the organization. Organizational success comes from the executive management and trickles down to other employees (Solovik, Ellen & Edie 2011). So is the implication of mistrust in the CEO. Indeed, people’s view needs to be changed. This perceived thinking of people about the CEO has to be dropped.
This can only be achieved by employing administrative and skilled professionals in managing human relations in and out of the organization. These managers should see the challenge they are facing as far as human relation in and out of the organization is concerned (Spinelli, Birley & Rosenberg 2010). To get a correct view of the situation at hand, they should critically analyse the effects of mistrust on the CEO (Culliton 2012). How are employees of the organization affected by these suspicions? Will this discourage or encourage their working morale? Can the customer have the same loyalty to the company if this kind of suspicions goes on? For sure, if human relation professionals do not work to correct this, the company might lose a lot.
If Apple Company wants to realize improved sales or even improve its position in the market, they have to engage better entrepreneurial approaches. Internal resistance in the form of doubting the CEO can easily make customers lose their trust in the company. The company should not forget that they are occupying a strong market position, which should be technically retained. The latest Apple smart phone has been criticized. This means that the company has to improve their game as far as innovation is concerned. Otherwise, the company may lose in its quest for success.
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