Can Starbucks' CEO Really Think Like a Startup?
15th Avenue Coffee and Tea -- Howard Schultz's new coffee shop in Seattle -- is decidedly un-Starbucks-like, with its fresh flowers, distressed wooden furniture, mismatched chairs, communal seating, pattern-topped lattes, live music, beer and wine list, and water bowls for dogs placed by the front entrance.
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--Anne Giles Clelland, president, Handshake Media Inc.
2. "Thinking like a startup means embracing failure as a part of the culture. Encouraging employees to take smart risks and not penalizing them for failing when they do try will encourage innovation and teamwork. The alternative is a company where no one wants to stick their neck out because they fear the loss of their job."
--Ben Huh, CEO, Cheezburger Network
3. "Be unconsciously incompetent. Startups don't know what they don't know. As a result, they are fearless. He should trust his killer instinct and demonstrate the 'possibilities' of what others believe are impossible."
--Danielle Douglas, president, Inspire Enterprise Inc.
4. "Startups waste nothing, because they don't have that luxury. Any product or byproduct is an opportunity to sell more. You need to have every employee thinking this way. For example, why not a mobile promotion to give away pastries with the purchase of coffee one hour before you throw them away? An old pastry is a chance to make a new customer."
--Scott Dunlap, CEO, NearbyNow Inc.
5. "Create a degree of disruptive differentiation that your customer can't afford to ignore. Roll the product or service out with urgency so relentless that your large incumbent competitors simply cannot match because of size and bureaucracy."
--Steve Puckett Jr., CEO, US HIFU
6. "Plan to be nimble by having no sacred cows and reviewing what works and what doesn't. So, Howard Schultz, as you test these new locally branded stores, empower each location to try elements that are unique to themselves. Some may fail, some may succeed, and some you may want to incorporate throughout other locally branded stores."
--Katie Donovan, founder, KD B2B Marketing and Sales
7. "Treat every sale with the same enthusiasm and pride you had during the first sale you ever made. Every customer should feel valued, respected and as if their business is an honor for your company."
--Jacqui Pini, co-owner, Museum Way Pearls
8. "Don't expect everything to go as planned. If anything, expect for a lot of mistakes, wrong turns and missed chances."
--Marc Anderson, owner, TalktoCanada.com
9. "Howard should look to partner with small and local businesses at every chance. From staffing, service providers, local organic flour for muffins in the coffee shop -- barter away coffee and space for events in order to partner up with entrepreneurs. By tapping into this mentality and network of local startups, this experimental Starbucks location will feel like another startup on the street, not a branch of a franchise."
--Stephan Nicoleau, managing partner, Critical Value Advisors LLC
10. "It's not what you think; it's what the customer thinks. It's really that simple."
--Forrest Graves, owner/founder, JumpinGoat Coffee Roasters
11. "Go with your gut. When you find an issue that needs resolving or an opportunity that presents itself, jump on it. Often [when running a small business], there isn't time to fully research the situation, so you have to go with your own knowledge and whatever information is readily available."
--Reid Neubert, principal, Reid Neubert + Friends
12. "Don't get depressed with failures. As an entrepreneur, you have to face unsatisfied customers [and] competitors who are selling products at dirt-cheap prices. So don't be sad and keep on trying to move ahead."
--Jennifer Gannon, owner, FortePromo.com
13. "Craft a business plan with a $1 million budget and a two-year plan. Then divide the budget by 20 and the timeline by two."
--Elina Furman, publisher, Mamaista.com
14. "Fill a gap! Always be on the lookout for a gap in the market."
--Christy Cook, founder, Teach My Inc.
15. "Howard [should] pretend he has no money. When every dollar spent is critical, founders take more time to understand their customer and what's really important to their business."
--Pedro Sostre, CEO, Black Helmet Apparel
16. "Follow one rule that every startup I've worked with lives by: What kind of product can take down the competition? In most of the world, Starbucks is the coffee business's 800-pound gorilla. So what kind of a store could put Starbucks out of business? It would be one that caters to the customers who seek out an alternative to the norm, and one that excels in delivering something that Starbucks struggles to."
--Christopher S. Brown, new media consultant, cbrowntv.com
17. "Successful entrepreneurs focus on executing their idea and nothing but their idea. They don't have the time, finance, or pressure to start diversifying. That focus allows the business to deliver a focused product/service and clearly deliver on its brand. To think like a startup, Starbucks needs to focus on delivering a premium coffee experience. Nothing else."
--John Crickett, entrepreneur/blogger, Business Opportunities and Ideas
18. "Schultz needs a major injection of fear! The biggest difference between a big business manager (which Schultz is now) and an entrepreneur (which he would like to be again) is that the latter has no margin for error. Entrepreneurs go to bed worried that they made a mistake ... or will make one. If they guess wrong a few times, there goes the business -- and sometimes their house with it. Schultz needs to put skin in the game -- invest his own money, millions of it (beyond his stock holdings in the company), to fuel any action he recommends. Then he will know what it feels like to be an entrepreneur again. Anything else is just pretend."
--Mark Stevens, CEO, MSCO
19. "Look to your co-workers for inspiration. I would tell Howard to use the people who work at Starbucks to crowdsource -- they can help him come up with creative ideas for the new experimental Starbucks locations and provide valuable feedback. Startups are a collaborative environment, and this is one of the reasons that they can be constantly iterating and changing."
--Erin Bury, community manager, Sprouter.com