I visited the world’s first Starbucks today (there are more than 12,000 of them now). It’s a little surreal, because you can see the original elements still poking out from under the splashy current veneer. The best part of the visit, though, wasn’t the really cool people that worked there… it was seeing the stores that are just down the street. There were two or three other coffee shops, a juice bar, a french bakery, a scone shop and a pierogie stand. Any one of them (well, except for maybe the pierogies) could have become Starbucks. But didn’t.
Because of the Dip. Howard Schultz took a really good (but my no means unique) coffee shop and pushed it through a Dip that got it to 100 stores. That Dip eludes almost every small businessperson. It’s too scary. The end of the tunnel is just a little bit too far away, a little too intimidating. So most people don’t try.
This intimidation is exactly why getting through the Dip is so valuable. Starbucks succeeds largely because they’re Starbucks. Ubiquity is their friend. If everyone could be ubiquitous, it wouldn’t be worth anything at all.