Why am I at Starbucks, Again?

It's another Saturday morning and I'm sitting in Starbucks working away while my two daughters dance at their studio nearby. As I often do, I find myself considering what has motivated me to visit Starbucks... again. Of course, Starbucks isn't the only coffee shop near here. There is WiFi at their studio that I could use, and it's not only the noise at the studio that has me choosing Starbucks, instead.

I was here last week, too. I sat at the bar, working on my Mac. The line was out the door, and I waited for an opening to order my usual venti Chai. The baristas whirled around behind the bar, filling order after order, mostly avoiding the seemingly inevitable collisions as they rushed in a coordinated effort to keep the coffee coming as quickly as they could.

They smiled and laughed, chatted with one another and their customers, and even in the face of an overwhelming crowd, maintained both their focus and their good humor.

I had sat at the bar there for a while, looking up occasionally to see if there was an opening. I had work to do and didn't want to spend the 10 or so minutes necessary to get my order into the process.

While pumping, pouring, mixing, and blending, one of the baristas made a comment to me about the zaniness of the morning. "You all are doing a great job! I keep waiting for the line to shrink, but the customers just keep coming and you keep everything moving," I said.

My comment was a compliment for their hard work. What she said in response underlines a very important success and business concept: "Oh! I can get something started for you. What would you like?"

Wow!

If you're not careful, you will overlook the remarkable value of the Starbucks culture: her first thought was how she could serve me. There was no resignation in it, no resentment, no sense that I was interrupting or disturbing them. Just a willingness to serve.

That sense continued after she delivered my Chai. No urgency to be paid. In fact, even in the midst of the rush, there was no sense of overwhelm or pressure.

As a result, I'm back today.

When I walked to the counter today and ordered my Chai, one of the baristas that was here last week looked up, "You missed it," she said, "it's quiet now, but you should have seen it just a few minutes ago." Then, turning to her colleague, "He was here last week when it was so busy for so long." They started to chat and laugh about the logistics of working around one another when there is so much to do. They included me in their conversation and as a result, drew me even more into their circle of influence.

I'll be back.

Business Growth in a Mobile World

The world is changing--again--and the good news is that the pendulum has swung back in favor of local, high-value businesses. This is exciting! It was the mid-1990s in Boulder, Colorado. I was a young, idealistic business owner with a passion for growing businesses. At the time, there was a lot I didn't know about helping businesses understand the reasons for doing what they needed to do, but I didn't lack in energy or conviction!

One time, I remember trying to convince the manager of an executive suite that one of the best things he could do to build his business would be adding Internet access in the offices. I gave him a reasonable proposal, and showed him that the prices would be reasonable and the benefits significant.

...but he didn't get it. "No one cares about Internet access," he told me. "They just want office space and a phone."

They went out of business.

A few months later, I had another conversation with a business owner explaining the value of using the Internet for communicating with customers and prospects. I talked about building a web site and how she could use it to build her business. Again, she didn't see the value and allowed others to take her business over the next few years. At the time, only visionaries could see the value in the Internet and the web. Today, we take it for granted.

We are at another juncture. It's like the early days of the web all over again. Sometimes, I get those same reactions, but the visionaries get it.

What am I talking about?

The shift in how people find you and your business. How they look for products and services. And what that means about how you find your prospects and show them your value. The world is now mobile. Virtually everyone always has their phone with them. Many of those phones have access to the Internet and mapping applications. And millions of them have the ability to install applications.

All of these are opportunities for you. You can differentiate your business, build relationships, engage with your customers, and win against the faceless giants in the marketplace.

It's a great time to be in business.

The strategy is straight-forward and the elements are extensions of what you already know to do: use your website to communicate, have a blog, use web video, podcast if it makes sense, be "mobile friendly," be social, and use apps strategically.

I'll go through each of these in upcoming posts. I also have made space in my schedule for a few free consultations for business leaders who are eager to grow their business at this tipping point in time. For a free half-hour consultation with me about your business and accomplishing the growth you're seeking, go to my business growth page right now and sign up before the slots are gone.