What Feeling like a Starbucks Owner Taught Me

What Feeling like a Starbucks Owner Taught Me About Being a Small Business Owner

Like many college students in need of health insurance and a flexible schedule, I worked for the largest coffeehouse company in the world: Starbucks. At first, it felt like any other job at a huge corporate chain. There were mission statements, policies and procedures, codes of conduct, and of course, the company’s vision. But it wasn’t until I launched my own company that I realized my experience working for Starbucks taught me to be a better small business owner. And while many dismiss Starbucks’ policies and procedures as corporate bureaucracy, there are a few key traits that small business owners can apply to their own companies:


At Starbucks, we were never referred to as employees. We were partners. They made me feel like I was a Startbucks owner. This title did more than reference our stock-holder status. It made us a part of the company’s success.  An “employee” or “staff member” indicates they are the hired help, and therefore, don’t hold accountability for your business’s success or failures. Treating everyone as team members will make them feel like they hold a stake in the company and productivity will improve.


At Starbucks, the customer was always right. If they said they asked for decaf and you give them regular, remake it and give them a free drink for next time. If they say their drink isn’t hot enough, remake it and give them a free drink for next time. Never argue and make sure the customer leaves happy. I find that a lot of small business owners are concerned about the bottom line.


If a customer wants to return a product, they see the loss of profit and inventory. If a client is unhappy with services and wants to withhold payment, the business owner sees the loss of revenue. While I don’t believe the customer is always right, I do believe it’s imperative that you keep them happy. Sometimes, that means sacrificing the bottom line in the short term. But customer retention will pay off big in the long term.


Starbucks’s original mission was to re-create the Italian coffeehouse experience. CEO Howard Schultz wanted Starbucks to be customers’ “third place,” a place between work and home. Every initiative centered on that mission, whether it was the design of the café or the products available. Most small business owners have a vision when they first launch their company, but with growth, that vision sometimes gets lost. Create a mission statement and always remember your vision. It should shape every decision you make as a business owner.

Dana Kaye is the owner of Kaye Publicity, a boutique PR company specializing in publishing and entertainment. She is also the creator of the Chicago Literati Networking Event where booksellers, authors, and publishing pros gather to mingle and network. For more, visit www.KayePublicity.com.

Share small business news, blogs and social media tips with Project Eve’s community of small business owners and entrepreneurs today. Our contributors come from a wide range of backgrounds; so whether you are a small business owner, social media strategist, financial adviser, serial entrepreneur, or write an amateur blog we urge you to contribute a blog to our 500,000+ community today. For more information, please refer to our Content Submissions Guidelines.

Add a Blog


  1. you’re actually a good webmaster. The site loading speed is incredible.
    It kind of feels that you’re doing any unique trick. In addition,
    The contents are masterpiece. you’ve done a fantastic process on this matter!

  2. My developer is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP.

    I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using WordPress on several
    websites for about a year and am concerned about switching to another platform.
    I have heard great things about blogengine.net. Is there
    a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into
    it? Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

  3. A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I believe that you should
    write more on this subject matter, it may not be a taboo subject but generally people do not talk
    about these subjects. To the next! Cheers!!

  4. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Genuinely rarely should i encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you may have hit the nail about the head. Your idea is outstanding; the problem is an element that insufficient persons are speaking intelligently about. I am delighted we came across this during my look for something with this.

  5. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering what all is required to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very internet savvy so I’m not 100 sure. Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated. Cheers


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.