How it started...
Back in 2014, my husband and I turned our homebrewing hobby into a business. Most of our family thought we were crazy for quitting our good jobs, selling our house to fund our dreams, and taking a leap of faith to go out on our own. Most of our friends thought we were crazy too but liked the idea of being able to drink for free.
We started with no employees, which resulted in my husband and I doing all the work. Even though we were both equally great homebrewers, Curtis was more the business man, so I stayed in the brewhouse and became the head brewer and eventually the operations manager.
Our days started early and ended late.
So late, in fact, that we even knew which places nearby had takeout that was open until at least midnight. Other days we would get to the end of our day with the recently brewed beer happy in its tank to ferment, the tasting room closed, and all the other chores done, and then we would pour ourselves a beer, sit at the end of the bar with a bag of chips and a smile on our faces, and reflect on our day and dream of our future.
They say you never work a day in your life when you are doing what you love.
As much as we enjoyed owning our own business, these long days were physically exhausting (imagine hauling around 55lbs of malt all day...you get the idea) and mentally exhausting (handling all business aspects without employees).
I thought that was the way it was supposed to be. I thought that working this hard was how you build your business.
I thought every 80+ hour week we put in was going to get me closer to our goal of having a business that grew, was profitable, and fulfilling. I thought that this was the initiation fee for becoming a successful small business owner.
We thought that the answer to these long work days and how we were to grow was through hiring employees. But what we didn’t realize was that employees are only an asset to the business as much as they are empowered.
I didn’t know...
I didn't know how to delegate effectively, I didn’t know how to teach my assistant brewers how to make mistakes and learn from them. I felt that even with having some standard operating procedures (SOPs), I still had to “babysit” them. Although I had someone to share in the physical responsibilities of brewing, everything else was still on my plate. My brewers would become frustrated with not having a sure system or feeling empowered and would leave.
We wanted to start a family but that seemed impossible.
I was stuck...
I was stuck micromanaging my assistant brewers, stuck filling in the gaps of what they couldn’t get done, stuck working 80+ hours a week with no end in sight.
But I was determined to figure out how to make family a possibility and a priority.
What if I could create systems that had the power to take things off my plate and make it possible for us to start a family?
What if these systems weren’t just a laundry list of dos and don’ts, but focused on outcomes and how to be, think, and act to achieve those outcomes?
What if the brewery systems could be so powerful that they actually empowered my brewers?
What if we judged the strength of these systems by testing them and seeing where the systems failed the test and needed improvement and not where the people running the systems failed?
As the strength of our SOPs increased, the hours we worked decreased. We were able to enjoy our business again and start a family. Our daughter was born in August of 2017. We loved traveling and sharing our beers, our story, and our family with others all over the world. We would take beer business trips all over America and the world at least monthly, often for a week or two at a time. Our daughter clocked in 54 flights in the first two years of her life.
Other brewers and small business owners would ask me how I was able to travel so much, how I had time for everything that I did, be a full-time mom, and how I was able to train my brewers so well. I would show them my notebook of SOPs just for the brewery and explain my process for how I implemented it and empowered my brewers. They would stand in amazement but also completely overwhelmed and say “that’s too hard.”
They are right. It is too hard...if you don’t have the right framework to follow. But it is possible to create a systematized business. It is possible to empower your employees to follow your systems.
It is possible to make a difference in your customers’ lives and your employees’ lives
without sacrificing your life.
Since 2019, I’ve been consulting small businesses all over the US, and helping them create effective systems that are timeless and can easily be updated to grow with their business.
I help small business owners look at the whole system and how each sub-system fits together. I help them delegate their responsibilities, knowledge, and skills (hard and soft) to others. I help small businesses document their systems and integrate these systems into their business, empowering their employees to make a difference by following these systems, and giving the business owners freedom again.
Freedom to do what they love in their business and freedom to do what they want to do.
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