Yesterday, I visited the original Starbucks store in Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. This was the first store set up by founder Howard Schultz back in the 1970s. It’s really small. I mean really tiny. I bet there’s not 1000 square feet. There are no chairs, but one small standing bar that faces out to the market. Two people can comfortably stand there and three would be tight. This was the first time that there was no line. Normally, the place is overflowing. It probably helped that it was late October and rainy.

I chatted with one of the employees who mentioned that my friend and I were fortunate to be there with nobody there. I said that I had never seen it so sparse and that this was rare. He went on to tell me that this little Starbucks store was in the top 5 stores in sales in the world for the company. The top 5 in the world!

It really hit me that such a tiny store could compete in volume with their larger counterparts. So what does that mean for you? Consider these 5 lessons when thinking about your own business…

1. Be unique. This store would be dead if it weren’t for the fact it is the original and can lay claim to a uniqueness that nobody else can own. You are unique. Your methodology may be similar or even the same to others. But no one else can be you! When you are in competition and someone asks you what makes you different, the answer is easy. It’s YOU. Make yourself a unique differentiator.

2. Offer unbeatable service and value. I dealt with three people there. Katie, who took my order (I still remember her name), was the perfect “front of the house” person for the store. The girl who made our drinks chatted with us and shared stories. The guy who told us about the statistics was warm and friendly. How do clients and prospects view you and/or your employees? Do they gain value from your work? Are you a problem solver, or merely a hired hand? Offer unbeatable value and you will never be wanting for clients.

3.Understand small can be good. Size doesn’t always matter! In fact, sometimes it can be a burden. Monolithic corporations can get bogged down in bureaucracy, committees, red tape, and politics. You can maneuver quickly and nimbly. That benefits you and your clients and makes you valuable to others.

4. Create brand. Regardless of whether you like them or not, you can’t argue that Starbucks doesn’t have a powerful brand. They have one of the strongest in the world. How strong is your brand? Are you recognizable in the arena you play in? Do people often say, “I’ve heard about you?” If not, you have some brand awareness to work on.

5. Create evangelists. There are Starbucks on virtually every corner of every major city in the world. Why do they come to this one when they are in Seattle? Because others tell them they have to. Heck, I’m evangelizing for them right now. People talk about how great the experience is, how wonderful the people are, and how they love the ambiance of the marketplace. You need people telling others, “You need Jane for that project,” or “Jim can solve that problem for you quickly.” This tiny little store has created evangelists. Where are yours and are they telling others about you?

As we were leaving, the store was picking up people. When we came in, there were only a couple other people. By the time we left, there were almost 20. Business as usual!


© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

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