I think back to the days when we were first getting started with the brewery, and I can’t help but think how much time I had to do things. It didn’t seem like I had a lot of free time, but in reality I did. What I really had was the ability to get on top of things, which I have completely lost now. Let me try to explain.
When you first start writing your plan, you have time to dream, think about your beers, your brand, name, etc. It is a natural part of things, and something that if we didn’t do, we wouldn’t be doing this. As time moves on, you tend to get to more of the meat of the operation, and you need to start figuring out some details. As time progresses, you think you have figured out a lot of the details of your space. Things like brewhouse, packaging size, general location of warehouse. You think you have made a lot of these decisions, but you haven’t.
You continue to work on your business plan, making what you think are decisions and changes of direction …. and then you do it. You find a space to lease and you take possession. This is when it starts to really happen. You actually start making decisions, like general contractor, architect, brewhouse size, etc. You think you are doing well, because you have made actual and concrete decisions.
What you don’t realize, is that you have only started on the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of decisions to make. None of them are more or less important than any of the others. Think of details such as these: Size of cooler door to the inch, length of drainage trenches down to the inch, slope on concrete pour down to the degree, exact location of trade waste interceptor, etc, etc. There is so many small decisions to make, it can become overwhelming.
Coming full circle, each of these decisions take time, and trust me when I say, you have very little of it. Your funnel at the top is getting loaded faster than you can empty it. About a year ago, you could pound out a good 60 hour week and be back on top of everything, but that is a pipe-dream now. A 60 hour week will only mean that I have about 300 hours of unfinished work sitting around waiting for me to complete. There is no way of catching up short-term, it is a matter of prioritizing and getting small jobs done.
Add to all this the work around the brewery. I have been tying rebar and working around the brewery 7 days a week for the past few weeks, and there is still so much to do. Take for example a typical day in my life.
- Get up at 5am to 530am
- Work in front of my computer until 745am
- Get kids off to school and lunches made 830 to 9am
- Drive into brewery to do work 930am
- Manual labour all day at brewery until about 930 am to 3pm
- Home to do work in front of my computer (accounting, marketing, business planing, etc) 330pm to 5pm
- Down time, hang with family, 530pm to 8pm
- After kids in bed, back to computer for more work 8pm to 11pm
- Off to bed to do it again
This is a pretty standard day, and I know one that my partner also goes through. If you are going to open a brewery, and you want to take an active role in starting it, be prepared for a day like this.
What you will find is that how badly you really want to do this will go a long way to making the above feel like work, versus feeling like a dream. Luckily for Iain and I, the long days are a dream and the passion is burning brighter than ever, so we know we have made the right decision.