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43038654_SWhat do you think of when you think of coffee? Chances are Starbucks comes to mind. Since opening its first store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 1971, the coffee giant has garnered a reputation for innovation. You can learn a lot from their business practices. Here are a few lessons you can glean from this brand leader:

Create an experience: Starbucks is ubiquitous, but that doesn’t mean the experience is lost in its grandeur. Starbucks has marketed an experience and a lifestyle. In a sense, they have cultivated the ultimate brand experience–from the custom beverages, music, and comfy furniture. You don’t just go there for the coffee. You seek it out for the familiarity. What kind of experience can YOU offer?

Have patience with customers: Starbucks’ baristas treat all customers the same, from the person who bought a $2.00 water to the person who bought a month’s supply of coffee. In short, what you can learn from them is to not treat the customer like all you care about is his or her wallet.

Be ethical: Fair-trade coffee, recycled cups, and an active volunteer program are part of Starbucks’ commitment to corporate social responsibility. You don’t have to commit to a large-scale project. Why not start small and organize a company service project? There is a lot of good karma to be earned.

Build and sustain connection: Baristas are encouraged to make small talk and get to know their customers. Sometimes the little things can mean the most, like remembering someone’s name.

In short, whether you’re selling coffee or software, the same principles can apply. What’s one change you can make today? Comment on our Facebook page and share your thoughts.