Advice to Leaders of Established Companies: Think Like Entrepreneurs

A version of this post appeared on Handshake 2.0Anne Giles Clelland is the founder of Handshake Media, Incorporated, a VT KnowledgeWorks member company and the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

According to the New York Times in Now at Starbucks: A Rebound, Starbucks's founder, Howard Schultz, was returned to a leadership position at Starbucks to do a company turnaround.  "“We lost our way,” he said. “We went back to start-up mode."

Corporate entrepreneurship – sometimes termed intrapreneurship - is gaining momentum as a research subject as interest in entrepreneurship in general grows.  "Thinking like an entrepreneur" can bring innovation, growth, and new profitability to existing organizations.  

One of the results of Starbucks's entrepreneurial brainstorming was 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea.

In Can Starbucks' CEO Really Think Like a Startup?, Charlotte Jensen wrote for AOL Small Business:

15th Avenue Coffee and Tea — Howard Schultz's new coffee shop in Seattle — is decidedly un-Starbucks-like, with its fresh flowers, distressed wooden furniture, mismatched chairs, communal seating, pattern-topped lattes, live music, beer and wine list, and water bowls for dogs placed by the front entrance. But as Schultz tries to go indie with experimental locations in hip neighborhoods, we asked 19 entrepreneurs and startups for their take — and tips — on how corporate giant Schultz can truly recapture that startup mindset.

Having been part of the era of dot-com entrepreneurship and, ten years later, having my own 18-month start-up, I have seen enough, heard enough, and done enough to know that this mindset results in entrepreneurial failure:  "I want to be a mogul!"  This one stands a chance: "I think my idea can change the world." 

I was honored to be quoted by Charlotte Jensen in Can Starbucks' CEO Really Think Like a Startup?:

"Only sell what you would buy. If your passion is for the business, not for the product or service, customers may respect your drive, but they won't buy. If you don't believe, they won't, either."
–Anne Giles Clelland, president, Handshake Media Inc.


The full list of 19 tips on thinking like an entrepreneur can be found in Charlotte Jensen's Can Starbucks' CEO Really Think Like a Startup?


VT KnowledgeWorks, a regional business acceleration center that helps companies bring ideas to market, will present the Second Annual Entrepreneurship Summit on April 7-8, 2010 at the Inn at Virginia Tech & Skelton Conference Center in Blacksburg, Virginia. This two-day comprehensive workshop is for prospective company founders, entrepreneurs launching or re-vamping a business, growing companies seeking expansion capital, and individuals interested in investing in early-stage companies.


VT KnowledgeWorks sponsors include Attaain, Inc., BB&T, Handshake 2.0, Harris Office Furniture, Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C., Hutchison Law Group, Latimer, Mayberry & Matthews IP Law, LeClairRyan, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and The Becher Agency (TBA).

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