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 doesn't need all the usual attention a successful business requires. These habits can help distillery owners turn their passion project into a successful business venture.
1. Keep it Local
Represent the flavor of your area in your spirits. As a new or developing brand, incorporating as much local ingredients will get buy in from the community. Customers are more willing to support what’s close to home and connects with them. This means getting 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 manufactured in your area, it's worth looking.
2. Think Ahead
Tomorrow always gets here before we expect it to, but a good distillery owner will be prepared. New trends and markets seem to show up out of nowhere and the last big thing is dead before you know it. Smart distillers always keep a finger in the wind so when trends change they're ready to adjust accordingly. Take the time to experiment with new things and try innovative ways to market your booze to different customers.
3. Prioritize and Follow Through
Running a distillery, much like 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, prioritize your tasks and don't forget to delegate some responsibilities. You have employees to help you - use them.
4. Take A Mental Vacation
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 everything you are into a new project. Just remember that going full throttle all the time eventually leads to burnout, dropped priorities, and incomplete tasks.
Maintaining a work-life balance is essential. Take time away from your distillery, and surround yourself with friends and family. 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.
5. 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. Be sure to 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.