Starbucks just made a big announcement that will completely change the way we do business. you will either love it or hate it

Starbucks is completely sold out now.

This week, the coffee giant unveiled a new “reinvention plan” for more than 150 of its investors. The plan includes aggressive growth targets, with the intention of opening thousands of new stores in the US and China over the next eight years.

But the more interesting part of Starbucks’ plan is focused on the near future: a $450 million investment in North American stores, including new, proprietary equipment the company developed to help baristas receive increasingly complex and customized orders. has done.

  • A new brewing method that uses vacuum-press technology to make freshly brewed and brewed coffee in 30 seconds
  • A redesigned soft drink station that allows baristas to cut the time it takes to make frozen drinks by more than half
  • A new method of producing cold brew coffee, which Starbucks claims, reduces the process from more than twenty steps to four, and cuts production time from more than twenty hours to just a few seconds.

Together, these new technologies have the potential to replace Starbucks. With the goal of improving processes for employees, at first glance, this may seem like a good thing. But there’s a problem: This change will take the company even further from its roots—which is why current fans of the world’s biggest coffeehouse will either love it or hate it.

Let’s break it down in full, plus lessons for every business owner in the Starbucks story.

How big should the company be? it’s all about intention

Howard Schultz returned from Italy four decades ago, impressed by the romance and charm offered by Italian coffee culture. Schultz loved the purity of the Italian coffee experience, and wanted it to serve as inspiration for Starbucks.

In his role as CEO, Schultz eventually built the Starbucks brand by providing customers with a “third place”: somewhere between work and home, it was a place for people to connect, learn, and drink good coffee. However, has acknowledged that the company has, over time, “lost its way.”

Fast forward to today, and most Starbucks stores bear no resemblance to the Italian coffee culture that Schultz fell in love with. In fact, it’s cold and frozen drinks like the company’s famous “Frappuccino,” as well as their seemingly endless customization options, that reportedly make up 70% of revenue, accounting for more than $1 billion in sales. .

Add to that the fact that more and more customers see Starbucks as a quick stop, either ordering online and popping in for pick-up or simply going through the drive-thru, and you’ll understand why. Why the famous coffeehouse idea of ​​a third place is all but dead.

Of course, Starbucks has been a public company for 30 years, and most of it bodes well for shareholders. But I can’t help but contrast with what the company has become in comparison to Schultz’s original vision.

Contrary to Starbucks’ trajectory there’s another company currently in the news: Patagonia.

Patagonia’s billionaire founder Yvonne Chouinard made headlines yesterday when he announced that he and his family were transferring ownership of the company to a trust and non-profit organization. In an open letter, Chouinard explained that instead of chasing excessive growth, his goal was to “do the right thing while making enough to pay the bills”.

And when Patagonia eventually developed, Chouinard resisted the urge to go public because, in his words, it would have been “a disaster.” Instead, Chouinard was able to stay true to his vision of what Patagonia should be.

So, what lessons can business owners take from Starbucks’ growth (or transfer, depending on your point of view)?

Remember to run your business with intent. If the company grows, it’s all too easy to do what management expert and business writer Jim Collins describes as “the overbearing, undisciplined pursuit of more.” Of course, if that’s your goal, it’s your choice–and Starbucks can actually serve as inspiration.

Otherwise, you might want to treat Starbucks as a cautionary tale.

Because the only way for your business to live up to your vision is to resist the urge to shape it according to the vision of others.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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