5 Habits of Successful Distillery Owners
It takes more than big dreams and good recipes to run a successful distillery. Just because it’s a passion doesn’t mean that it isn’t a business that needs all the usual attention a business requires. It takes a lot to make a distillery successful. Going in willy-nilly and hoping things spontaneously work out is a sure way to failure. Some industry veterans will give any budding distillery owner tons of advice - some good, some more of an entertaining anecdote. It’s a great way to learn. If you don’t get a chance to talk to one of these gurus, here are five things to keep in mind if you want your distillery to be a success.
Keep it Local
Unless you are shooting for a national brand, keeping things local is the best way to go when it comes to producing your spirits. Customers are more willing to support what’s close to home. This means you get every ingredient possible from local growers. The same goes with distilling supplies and equipment, when feasible. It’s likely the more industrial level of equipment is too specialized to have been manufactured in your area, but having your barrels handcrafted by a local Amish community might make a good selling point.
Tomorrow always gets here before we expect it to, but a good distillery owner will be prepared. New trends and markets can crop up out of nowhere while the last big thing starts to die out. Smart distillers always keep a finger in the wind, so these inevitable changes don’t catch them flat-footed. Take the time to experiment with new things, and try new ways to market your booze to different customers.
Prioritize and Follow Through
Running a distillery, or any small business, is like running an obstacle course while on fire. There will always be more things to do than can ever get done in a given day. Since no one can do it all, do what you can and what needs to be done the most. Just make sure you don’t overlook the follow through part of the equation.
When you start something, finish it or otherwise see that it gets into the hands of someone who can. An owner can work his butt off, but if they don’t finish what they started, it amounts to doing nothing. Always make sure you get it done.
Have a Life Outside the Distillery
No craft distiller is doing this just for the money. It’s a calling, a passion, it’s the reason to get out of the bed in the morning. Still, it’s not the only thing in life either. There is a real temptation to literally throw your all into a new project of any kind, especially when the stakes are as high with starting up a distillery. It can’t be done, not long term. Going full throttle all the time only leads to burnout and failure.
Maintaining a work-life balance is essential. Take time away from your distillery, and surround yourself with friends and family. (Talking about the distillery might be forbidden, if they’re also your partners.) Go fishing, read a good book, or catch a game. Do anything that will recharge your batteries and get you feeling like you can’t wait to get back to making your booze making.
Take Care of Yourself
There is this universal law that works in every aspect of life. Eat right and exercise. It doesn’t matter how dedicated and passionate a person might be about their business, if they physically burn out or have a breakdown. Also, get regular checkups with a doctor. Nothing will take more time away from your distillery than failing health.
It’s all too easy to let a day’s busy schedule get the better of you, and make you skip healthy in favor of convenience. Sometimes doing that is unavoidable, but never let it become a habit. Always schedule time for a good, balanced meal and some sort of exercise. It could be as simple as keeping apples handy for snacks and having an end of the day meeting done by walking around the distillery a few times.