How to Build a Business Empire by Connecting the Dots

There’s a common belief that you have to come up with an original idea or invent something new to start a business. Most of us also believe that creativity is creating something out of nothing. Both beliefs are inaccurate and they are keeping us from being creative and starting a business.

As I have explained in a previous post, creativity isn’t creating something out of nothing. Creativity is connecting existing ideas and concepts in a new way. You don’t need to come up with an original idea or invent something new to start a profitable business.

You can use your creativity to market existing products and services to new target groups for different purposes. You can combine existing products and services to come up with new products and services. Steve Jobs and Apple applied this principle and built an $800B+ business empire.

How Did Steve Jobs and Apple Succeed?

Apple successfully targeted general public with their computers, smartphones, and tablets. Before Apple, those products were mostly marketed to businesses.

Apple made those products easier to use for the average consumer. Steve Jobs played a critical role in making Apple’s products easy to use.

I think Steve Jobs could understand the average consumer better than others, because he didn’t have a formal engineering degree. In a way his lack of an engineering degree was critical to the success of Apple.

Improve Already Existing Products or Services

iPod played a critical role in Apple’s success. Before the mp3 players, people used portable cassette and CD players. Those devices could play one album at a time. It was relatively easy to access the album or song you wanted to listen to.

With the mp3 players, you had hundreds of albums and thousands of songs in a device. It was hard to access the album or song you wanted to listen to. Apple and Steve Jobs solved that problem brilliantly with iPod. As a result, they got a huge commercial success with iPod.

Existing Products and Services Marketed to New Consumer Segments

iPod paved the way to iPhone and iPad as a commercially successful mobile device. I think Steve Jobs saw the success of a mobile device with the general public and asked himself the question below. Remember, formulating your challenge as a question is the first step to success.

How can I make a smartphone appeal to the general public?

The answer to that question might be obvious now, but the standard smartphone was much different back then.

The most popular smartphone was BlackBerry. Its screen was only half the size of the device. The remaining half was covered by a physical keyboard. The typical user of a BlackBerry was a business professional. Its main use was business communication.

With iPhone, Apple targeted a new consumer segment for smartphones, general public instead of business professionals. They also defined a new purpose for smartphones, entertainment instead of business communication.

In order to do that, they got rid of the physical keyboard and used a large screen. They developed an operating system that could take advantage of the new setting. They also used a touch screen to avoid the stylus. Once iPhone became a success, iPad was the logical successor.


As Apple and Steve Jobs demonstrated, you don’t need to be a genius inventor to build a business empire. You can combine existing ideas to create new products or services.

You can target new consumer segments with existing products or services. In order to find the solutions to those challenges, formulate your challenges as questions and use your curiosity to find the answers to those questions.