The ancient Roman god of beginnings is Janus and depicted by a head with two faces, one looking left into the past. The second face looking right into the future. A new year a new beginning, and at this time I like to reflect on what happened in the year, what lesson’s I’ve learnt, and look to the future.
VISION & CORE VALUES
Before I even started the year I had a vision for the business and my core values. Keeping true to them and ensuring that I run my business by them. Be honest. Be fair. Take the knocks and come back wiser.
The vision, if I can reach it, is something that creates in so many ways. It is also something truly unique that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Good honest products, good for the community, good for the environment. One step at a time!
DEVITERA’S FIRST TRADING YEAR
Devitera’s first trading year was exceptionally hard, rewarding, scary, fun, overwhelming, and exciting (often at the same time). I faced insurmountable challenges, like a solid rock face, only to find myself on top of the mountain through hard work, and sometimes good fortune. Other times I felt like I’m on top of the world, only to be deflated in a second. I’ve really LIVED 2018!
I had times where I had an amazing product, the right price, but pitched at the wrong time (you can imagine where that went). Other times good fortune just appeared when I needed it most.
I brewed experimental beers, improved quality, increased yields, and developed processes to package beer in different formats (you can’t believe how hard it is to put beer into a “bag in a box”).
I established sales channels, and developed relationships with all sorts of business (people) from enterprise, high-end restaurants, wine bars, pubs, and off licenses. I did the classic cold call and learnt how (not) to position myself, my business, and my products. I’m still working this bit out btw!
I did many events and met the general public, there is nothing general about them :), and learnt first-hand likes, dislikes, and what sells (and of course what doesn’t).
Behind the scenes I built a firm foundation to manage book keeping, VAT, beer duty, production costs, and monthly progress. I got a premises license to sell beer direct to consumers, and started to create a taphouse (one step at a time).
I had help along the way and to those who stepped up with all sorts of skills that I don’t have THANK YOU (particularly my wife and Tony). I couldn’t do it without you!
UPS AND DOWNS
I had MANY downs and survived the year. Mistakes including brewing errors, costly events that didn’t deliver, legal copyright issues, and expensive adverts that gave no ROI! At these moments my vision and core values carry me through.
I also had MANY ups both large and small, and often just when I needed them most. I had several commissions, an MP visit, selling my beer to a national charity, selling to a Michelin Star restaurant, opening the taphouse for the first time, lots of great events, and receiving LOTS of support and encouragement from people (they don’t realise how much this means – if this was you THANK YOU!).
I’ve learnt to celebrate the small and the large. Dig deep and don’t let the downs stop you (often easier said than done). I MUST find a way to keep moving, and perhaps resilience is the most important thing. Don’t give up!!!
FACING THE FUTURE
So like Janus I look right into the future and what do I see?
I haven’t had a chance to build the 2019 plan yet, but with the vision things are easier. I will first think about what I would like to achieve by the end of 2019 and write them down. I’ll focus on the “big ticket items”, weighing up impact to help prioritise. From sales, marketing, distribution, production, R&D, administration, I will think about every area of the business to ensure I don’t miss the obvious.
Now work backwards, say 3 months from the end of 2019. What would need to be in place to make the end achievable? You’re now identifying deliverables for the last quarter of the year, and breaking down the activity into manageable chunks. Now go back another 3 months and repeat.
Throughout I’ll be ensuring alignment to the vision and core values, whilst producing a plan that delivers 2019. It also needs to be flexible as things change, and not all is under my control (a good example is BREXIT).
Many years I lived through the year, and in 2018 I truly LIVED life. I hope to carry this on for the rest of my life, for although it wasn’t the easy path I feel fulfilled. Just writing this blog entry I realised all the things I had done (I’m a bit surprised to be honest).
As I look to the future I’m excited. Parts of the path are hidden, covered in darkness, perhaps unclear even. I don’t know quite how I will make it through and that’s ok. I’ve faced all sorts of challenges to get where I am today, and am confident I will find a way (somehow).
Imagine that today is your last day on earth and you leave at midnight. Would you be happy with your lot? Will you be fulfilled?
Did you hesitate before answering “yes”? If so reflect on why, and what’s missing? What would it take to make that an instant “YES!”?
I encourage you to make the change and take the step. Follow your path to fulfilment and the first step starts right now. Good luck!