One of the things about opening a brewery that you go through is STRESS! Thats right, a word deserving of capital letters, because it is not something, when you are dreaming of this, that you think about at all. In fact I had friends and other entrepreneurs tell me about stress, and I always dismissed it, or paid it some superficial lip service about how I was a laid back guy and it wouldn’t get to me. Well it did get to me over the past month.
What I have realized is there are different levels of stress. I will try and talk about each and how it relates to starting a brewery.
Instantaneous Stress: This is the stress that comes out of nowhere, like being late for a meeting, which is very intense and lasts a very short period of time. Often it is unexpected, and comes and goes before you even realized what the heck happened. I don’t mind this kind of stress, as I don’t loose sleep at night thinking of how I am going to be late for a meeting the next day because of traffic or not leaving enough time to get there.
Decision stress: As I have blogged about previously, there are heaps of decisions you need to make when you open a brewery. Name, bottle size, engineers and architects, size of tasting room, branding, financials, company structure …. you get the idea. Sometimes, you only have the odd decision to make, but other times you have 5 or 6 big decisions to make and they compound to make the decision even harder. How do each of these decisions cumulatively effect your business, and will you end up with the company that you thought you would have?
Performance stress: Ok, it might put a smile on your face, but it isn’t that kind of stress! This is the kind of stress I feel when I think about me as an individual living up to my expectations, and those of my shareholders, and everyone else that is depending on this business to be a success. Full stop, I worry that my performance in the day to day operations will be good enough.
Long term success stress: This is the kind of stress that keeps you up at night. Will I be able to make money, will I be happy, how will this business effect my personal/work life balance, and will I have any investors that want to be friends with me if this business goes bankrupt? When you are investing thousands of hours in time, and thousands of dollars without a paycheque, failure is not an option. I am far too old and far too deep into life to have another “learning experience.” The only way I can cope with this stress is yoga before bed and exercise. It seems to be the great balancer in my life, an I hope to always have time for this.
Family stress I think we all feel this, and it goes without saying; the stress of my families well-being and happiness is more important than anything else. I love my wife and kids too much to sacrifice their long term happiness. How will my kids respond to me being gone 12 hours a day for the first year of this business? How will my wife feel about the same thing? I think the only way to deal with this is to unplug 1 full day a week, and to pick your spots when you work versus when you spend time with your loved ones. I only hope I get the right mix!
Beer Nerd Stress: Thats right, I said it. I worry about how our beer will be received from the world of beer nerds. While we are certainly going to sell our beer to everyone that wants to purchase it, I think the opinion of local and abroad beer nerds really matters to me. I want to make beer that I would be proud to serve to those “in the know”. Unique, unapologetic, and delicious. I would hate my brewery to be a company that was put alongside other less than respected breweries. It would ruin this whole process and take away from my dream to be a respected brewery.
I’ve Got Something to do: This is the stress associated with having a deadline, and a finite amount of time to complete this task. This stress is right up there for me. Its like a real life episode of Chopped. Recently I ran a couple focus groups on naming my brewery (I will blog more about this later), and the days leading up to the first focus group was intense. It was 2 days of preparing, emailing, calling, booking, rebooking, re-emailing, buying, printing …. etc. This is a really hard type of stress to deal with, as any escape from this stress will only put more pressure on you.
The stress of all these things …. In other words the stress of all this stress!: The last bit of stress that comes to mind, is the stress of all these things. Cumulatively, all these stresses can stress you out. This is the kind of stress that can really impact you both in the short term and definitely in the long term. The only way to deal with it is to stay positive, believe in yourself and those around you, and to make lists. Ok, maybe there are some other ways also, but every person is different, and I am certainly one that falls into that category.
My next blog will focus on the naming contest, and the 3rd stage of that process. I hope that we have our list of 3 names in the next couple days, and then pass this out to the world for their opinion.