I have been on a tear lately visiting with many distributors out of state as we are planning to expand into new markets. I have driven over 6000 miles in 60 days visiting with no less than 14 distributors covering 7 states. What we have to offer product wise is compounded as we release beer in bottles for the first time later this week in conjunction with North Carolina craft beer month, one year anniversary of the brewery and two year anniversary for the Outpost. The same thing can be said meeting with potential investors as we are wrapping up our second round raise later this month (hopefully).
I have noticed an uncanny similarity between pitching to distributors, tasting product, telling our story and doing the same thing with investor prospects. You get it down to a point where you could easily do it in your sleep. The similarity is the plan you have laid out to reach your objectives which should lead them into confidence that you can deliver on what you are saying.
One of my biggest frustrations that I have had is putting my trust in others, especially outside agencies that we are dependent on for success. These could be suppliers, vendors, retailers, etc. I’m not OCD by any means but I know the matter is amplified because of my military background where we expect results more quickly and the time to resolve “issues” is exponentially smaller. No doubt the mantra of, “if it were easy, everybody would do it” definitely rings true in small business. The bottom line is that the only real control that we have is what happens in the brewery (and even that can be argued sometimes dependent on the situation). We have no control on when raw ingredients arrive or when our finished product leaves the brewery and how it is managed. Don’t get me wrong, we can try and influence that in many ways but control per se is an illusion.
It is pretty mind warping when you look at all the variables that can work their way into your master plan to throw you off track regardless if it is trying to raise money, reach new distributors, talk to retailers, etc. Obviously you try and plan for this but it is simply impossible to plan for every little thing, especially weather. It is amazing in this day and age of the global information grid, weather can still grind us to a halt even if you are a computer cowboy pushing emails. It might not affect you but it seems to affect everybody else you need to engage with to simply conduct day to day business.
Sometimes I just wonder to myself how we as a company have managed to get as far as we have in such a short period of time. There are times when I truly feel it is divine intervention or some quasi-destiny and I humbly say that. It is like the stars magically align or perhaps I’m smoking something and it is simply luck. Who really knows?
I do know one thing though, while you won’t see “Hope” listed on any balance sheet or in any business plan, it is something that is needed no doubt. There are days as a small business owner where you feel very alone and I hate to admit, very afraid. I’m not talking about a scared of the dark type of afraid, no, something way scarier than that.
So how does one overcome that fear? Obviously with hope as I have stated but where does the hope come from? It comes from friends, family, coworkers but more importantly… it comes from you. It is you that gets excited about; us doing an event, coming up with new beers, offering our beer in bottles and the list goes on. It is because of you, the loyal soldiers of the Beer Army why I have hope which helps shield me from the fear so I can focus on continuing with the mission that is Beer Army. So from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!