November 15, 2007

Starbucks & Mid-Career Crisis

Starbucks is hitting some resistance to its phenomenal growth. Same store sales are down, the Chairman has publicly questioned the dilution of the brand and side offerings are getting lukewarm reception in the market. Is Starbucks going through a mid-life crisis?

Sounds similar to a corporate mid-career crisis. After having run half the marathon you are out of juice, not sure which path to take and you are questioning your ability to make it to the finish line? So what does Starbucks tell us about getting a handle on this mid-career situation?

Growth Strategy: You are probably stuck mid-stream because you are unsure about your career path. Like adding more stores is not working for Starbucks, you know what is not working for you but are unsure about what will. Strategize your growth and career options. Look at the big picture and put the pieces together of where you want to be eventually and then chalk out a plan for getting there. Confer with mentors, review, evaluate and create your growth strategy. As they say – “if you don’t know where you are going any road will do”.

Focus: Are you digressing from your strengths? Remember Starbucks trying to sell music and movies. Starbucks true service offering is coffee, not music and movies. Don’t make that mistake in your career. Diversify, expand, learn but keep your focus on what you do well and how to leverage those strengths to move forward. Strength capitalization is a big part of career progression and I recommend reading this post on the subject.

Brand Management: When the Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz frets that rapid expansion is diluting the brand – there is something to learn from that message. You have a brand and your brand proclaims who you are. You have spent years inculcating that brand – don’t dilute your brand by being negligent and comfortable. Brand management requires exemplary delivery on the promise. Your brand and credibility is contingent on your execution. You cannot afford to let-up.

You have come this far and kudos to you for that accomplishment. But the race is still on and the last half is harder. A lot harder! The prepared, resolute and focused usually finish the race.

Wall Street Journal - At Starbucks, Too Many, Too Quick?
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