When’s the last time you paid for Wi-Fi?

I’m astounded that there are still businesses trying to get you to pay for Wi-Fi. I mean, seriously: that connection costs them only a few dollars a month, and while it’s possible I’d hang out in or in front of my local Subway sandwich shop all day to get that signal, the truth for almost everyone is otherwise.

Guilt issues aside, even if you get a few hangers-on the extra money most people spend while sitting for hours at Starbucks makes giving that Wi-Fi away a great business change.

After trying to make money on the deal, Starbucks first made their Wi-Fi signal nearly free a couple of years back and totally free last month. Even McDonalds has figured this out.

But business change is a matter of always evolving and always finding and moving forward with the next business change. Or better yet, creating it. It’s called business development.

Don’t let anyone tell you that business development is the same as sales.

Getting you to buy more coffee is sales. Finding reasons to keep you in your seat SO THAT you buy more coffee is business development. And Starbucks is doing business development in a big way.

With all respect to the folks at Mashable for that fine article, I pointed this out a couple of months ago. Starbucks has made a deal with the Wall Street Journal for people who access the Internet using their free Wi-Fi to be able to read WSJ for free. Presumable, Starbucks is paying something for the right to have WSJ become free from their locations over the Internet connection they’re giving away. Ditto the other content that you need to pay for when you get to it from your home or office connection, but not from Starbucks.

THAT’S business development. And business change. And if you think about it, it’s also social networking.

Sooner or later, it even strays into the realm of coopetition.

I’ve been clear that you need to be doing social networking, but also being careful about how, and how much. It’s just like business development; you need to always be looking for ways to make more money through your connections, but you also need to keep doing actual sales.

And if you’re serious about any of these things you need to see where they merge, and where they don’t.

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