Starbucks’ Magic Number: 5 Keys to Their Billion Dollar Empire


What started as a simple Seattle-based coffee company has grown into an incredible empire. Whether or not you’re a caffeine-head, or just prefer a sugary pick-me-up — there’s something for you at one of their [seemingly] millions of stores worldwide.
How did this one franchise rise above the competition in such a short span of time? Here are 5 keys to how they’ve dominated the competition and when you apply the same principles to your business – you may too.

1. Speed

Sure, most Starbucks look fairly packed – especially if you’re coming during the morning or afternoon rush, but there’s a science to how their employees get through a line. A standard visit at any Starbucks shouldn’t take longer than 3 minutes if you’re in and out the door – 5 minutes when it’s packed. This is due to a perfected assembly-line approach to their customer experience. They understand you’re probably in a hurry, and they don’t want to keep you a second longer. When it comes to launching your products, keep your customers’ busy lives in mind. Don’t overwhelm them with videos they don’t have to watch, or sales letters that are pages longer than they need to be.

“Success is not sustainable if it is defined by how big you become or by growth for growth’s sake. Success is very shallow if it doesn’t have emotional meaning.”
Howard Schultz, executive chairman of Starbucks

2. Quality

Starbucks will never serve coffee that’s over 30 minutes old, guaranteed. It’s this devotion to maintaining quality that keeps their heads above the competition. Don’t cut corners with your own products in order to save a buck, or deliver earlier than expected. Your customers deserve the best, and you should give it to them.

Entrepreneurs must love what they do to such a degree that doing it is worth sacrifice and, at times, pain. But doing anything else, we think, would be unimaginable.
Howard Schultz, executive chairman of Starbucks

3. Creativity

By branching out into making Frappacinos, Hand-crafted sodas, and their famous seasonal Pumpkin Spice lattes, they’ve kept their customers coming back for their creative approach on the coffee shop experience. You want to keep your customers guessing what your next step may be so that they won’t get bored and move onto the next shop.

4. Ability to Inspire

Not only does Starbucks offer bottled water that donates a percentage of its proceeds to charity, but their Teavana Oprah Chai Tea Lattes support the Oprah Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Each cup is decorated with an inspirational quote from Winfrey herself. Try to use your business as a way to inspire others through your products; whether it’s toward good health, or living your best life.

“If you dream small dreams, you may succeed in building something small. For many people, that is enough. But if you want to achieve widespread impact and lasting value, be bold.”Howard Schultz, executive chairman of Starbucks

5. Consistency

Take any 2 lattes from different Starbucks and you may be hard-pressed to find the differences. Starbucks holds a commitment to consistency, and they want you to know it. Approach your business in the same way – if you’ve delivered to your customers at a certain level, don’t sink below it – try to match it every time, or raise the bar.