Howard Schultz faced an intriguing choice. The former Starbucks CEO could enjoy the rewards of having built Starbucks into a world-wide brand, or he could return to the daily grind by reclaiming the CEO title after an 8-year absence. He chose the grind. What tipped the scales?
Schultz told Bloomberg Businessweek:
The company had been hitting a home run in terms of growth every single year, but I cold smell that things were wrong. We weren’t creating a soulful, romantic experience anymore.
And he was right. Starbucks had discarded its soul if favor of growth. Five months after Schultz returned as CEO, Starbucks closed 977 stores and laid off 18,400 people. Starbucks had abandoned its soul and no slick marketing campaign would be able to save it.
Marketing a business is fairly easy. However, it’s nearly impossible to market a business without SOUL. Your entrepreneurial soul is what makes a business marketable, because it is individually you. There is no other like it in the world. Marketers talk about differentiation as if it’s some external thing that you create for a marketing plan. But real differentiation comes from what’s inside you.
Your Entrepreneurial S.O.U.L.
Spirit is defined as an attitude or principle that inspires, animates, or pervades thought, feeling or action.
Entrepreneurial Spirit is the window into an entrepreneur’s soul. It is the driving force that propels a business innovatively and creatively forward.
Onlyness is focus, building a strong identity. Identity requires being known for something. Being known for something means being focused on one important thing. That one important thing is your onlyness.
Uniqueness is not what you sell, it’s not even how you sell it. All that can be copied and by definition is not unique. You are your own unique selling proposition. Most businesses look alike, but there are no two people alike. Make your business an extension of you: your individual brand promise + your individual personality.
A business is not something you draw up on a piece of paper, it’s your entrepreneurial SOUL in real life. You must be who you claim you are. Legitimacy is being authentic in a way that customers feel, see, touch, and experience.
Before you invest time and hard-earned profits in marketing plans and tactics, tap into your most powerful marketing weapon, make sure your business has a soul. Your SOUL.
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