Howard Schultz’s Three Steps to Overcoming Failure

Apr 19, 2023·

3 min read

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Photo by Sean Pollock on Unsplash

Failure is an inevitable part of life, especially in the business world. Every entrepreneur knows that setbacks and disappointments are bound to happen along the way. However, the way one responds to failure is what sets successful business leaders apart from the rest. Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, is no stranger to failure. In fact, he has faced numerous setbacks in his career, but he has always managed to bounce back and come out stronger. Let’s dive into the lesson learned that we can take from Schultz’s three steps to overcoming failure and how they can be applied in modern-day business.

Step 1: Don’t Blame Others or Yourself

The first step in overcoming failure, according to Schultz, is to avoid the blame game. Blaming others or oneself for the failure is a waste of time and energy. Instead, it’s important to accept the failure as a learning experience and move on. In today’s business world, where competition is fierce and mistakes are costly, it’s easy to succumb to the blame game. However, successful business leaders understand that failure is an opportunity to learn and grow.

For example, let’s say a company launches a new product that fails to gain traction in the market. The knee-jerk reaction might be to blame the marketing team for not promoting it enough or blame the product designer for creating a flawed product. However, a more productive approach would be to analyze what went wrong and why. This analysis will help the business identify areas for improvement and prevent similar mistakes in the future.

Step 2: Focus on Solutions, Not Problems

The second step to overcoming failure, according to Schultz, is to focus on finding solutions instead of dwelling on the problem. It’s easy to get bogged down by the failure and lose sight of the bigger picture. However, successful business leaders know that solutions are more important than problems. They understand that finding a solution is the key to moving forward and overcoming the failure.

For example, let’s say a business is struggling to generate enough leads. Instead of focusing on the problem, successful business leaders would focus on finding solutions. They might invest in new marketing strategies or explore new markets to generate leads. By focusing on solutions, they can get closer to their goals and overcome the failure.

Step 3: Embrace Innovation

The third and final step to overcoming failure, according to Schultz, is to embrace innovation. In other words, don’t be afraid to do something different. Innovation is the key to staying ahead of the competition and overcoming failure. Successful business leaders understand that innovation is not just about creating something new, but also about improving something that already exists.

For example, let’s say a business is struggling to keep up with the competition. Instead of sticking to the same old routine, successful business leaders would embrace innovation. They might invest in new technology or explore new business models to stay ahead of the game. By embracing innovation, they can differentiate themselves from the competition and overcome the failure.


Failure is a natural part of the business world, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the road. By following Howard Schultz’s three steps to overcoming failure, business leaders can turn setbacks into opportunities for growth and success. By avoiding the blame game, focusing on solutions, and embracing innovation, they can overcome failure and come out stronger. In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business world, these steps are more important than ever.