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What If Steve Jobs Started a Glamping Business?

Steve Jobs: Founder of Apple. Inventor of the iPhone. A true visionary.

Glamping site owner? Of course not. But who says we can’t apply his genius to our industry?

After reading his biography, I’ve taken some of the principles that made him so great and imagined how he’d use them to run a successful glamping business. Would he be bothered about owning a glamping site while he was busy trying to change the world? Probably not, but it’s a fun exercise that might result in a few nuggets for you to take away.

“Did Alexander Graham Bell do any market research before he invented the telephone?”

That’s what Jobs reportedly answered when asked by a journalist what type of market research he’d done before unveiling the Macintosh. He really hated market research that much.

Jobs was too busy being a visionary to care about what consumers wanted at the time. He knew the products he released would be so good that consumers wouldn’t even know they wanted them until they saw them.

Executed right, the same principle can be applied to starting a glamping business. You can ask all the questions and run all the surveys you like, but you won’t know how people will react until you open your doors for guests. 

I’m currently writing a book full of glamping site owners’ advice on starting a glamping business, and most of the people I’ve spoken to during the interview process have said that people thought they were mad when they told them about their glamping idea.

If Steve Jobs wanted to start a glamping business, he’d form his vision and ignore any doubters. You should do the same.

“Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication”

That was the quote on the front of Apple’s first brochure, and it was a design philosophy that Jobs stuck to his entire life. He would always favour the simple over the complex.

You can imagine how this would translate if Jobs were to design a glamping site. There would be no clutter. No swimming pools full of screaming kids. The design would be slick and minimalist, with each guest having absolute privacy if they wanted. There would almost certainly be some kind of technological innovation in there too though. Maybe some state-of-the-art hot tubs or saunas. Or most likely something our non-genius brains can’t fathom.

Don't Take No for an Answer

When Jobs tried to get software engineer Bill Atkinson to work for Apple, Atkinson politely turned him down. In response, Jobs sent him a non-refundable plane ticket, and Atkinson flew over and was persuaded to join the company after Jobs delivered a pitch that lasted three hours.

Let’s forget his billionaire status for a second, and wonder what Jobs would do if he wanted to start a glamping business but didn’t have any money to do so. I imagine he’d be going from investor to investor, delivering pitch after pitch, until he scraped together the money he needed to get the project off the ground. He certainly wouldn’t be discouraged after one rejection.

If you’re pitching for funding for a glamping business, expect lots of rejections and prepare to fight to make your dream a reality.

Be a Marketing Genius

Jobs wasn’t just a business leader, designer and visionary. He was also a world-class marketer. Just look at the first two minutes of the video below to see how well he could pitch a product.

His speciality was creating a media fanfare around the launch of a new product, and he’d use this skill for the unveiling of his glamping site. He’d be writing to every publication he could get his hands on to make sure they published an article on his site. He’d also invite journalists and influencers to a huge launch party, which would generate a buzz and a steady stream of guests for months on end.

Be Inspired By What Came Before

There’s a really beautiful quote from Jobs at the end of his biography, which sums up his approach to work and life. Even though he was constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation, he never failed to appreciate the leaps that others had made throughout history. 

Here’s the quote in full: 

“What drove me? I think most creative people want to express appreciation for being able to take advantage of the work that’s been done before us. I didn’t invent the language or mathematics I use. I make little of my own food, none of my own clothes.

"Everything I do depends on other members of our species and the shoulders that we stand on. And a lot of us want to contribute something back to our species and to add something to the flow.

"It’s about trying to express something in the only way that most of us know how—because we can’t write Bob Dylan songs or Tom Stoppard plays. We try to use the talents we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the contributions that came before us, and to add something to that flow. That’s what has driven me.” 

In his quest for the world’s most innovative glamping site, Jobs would respect the heritage of the outdoor industry. He’d draw from the advances people had made in the campground industry, the RV industry and the hotel industry (despite the angry blog I wrote about hotels recently). He’d acknowledge the best of what had come before and go on to make something even better. And that’s what progress is about.

Thanks for reading.

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