Aces: The time is now

I am fascinated by time.

It’s why the “Today is March 1069th, 2020” posts still crack me up.

It’s why I find these “life-week” charts undeniably humbling. An instant perspective shift.

It’s why @year_progress is my new favorite follow (which gives me a nice, bi-weekly Holy $h!* jolt of urgency as I see just how fast the days are passing).

This weird relationship we have with time is also why it feels like just about a month ago when I wrote this, my own personal “Hello Craft World” moment. And yet, it was allll the way back at the end of 2020. Time does, indeed, fly when you’re having fun. And for me, this sentiment in particular has only grown stronger since then:

I agree with 2020 Tom, in his wide-eyed youth.

I hope you do as well.

What’s Next?

That “what we did next” thing from two years ago was far from glamorous.

It wasn’t shiny trumpets in the air, blowout events, or groundbreaking innovation. It was just that boring old execution thing. The silent, messy, painful, problem-filled, addictive, energizing daily march forward towards an improved version of our business.

And so when Chris wrote last week about our mindset shift, our transition in roles, and our new, bigger vision for SBS, the truth is much more modest:

  • There was no single epiphany.
  • There were no Steve Jobs’ garage “change the world” moments.
  • And there hasn’t been a sweat lodge vision quest to find ourselves (yet).

Where we intend to go next was there the whole time, growing along with us through every reconciled bank account, every margin analysis, every new hire training session. It’s pretty straightforward. In fact, I’ll just show you the final summary I presented to the team as we wrapped up 2022:

Mind-blowing right!? This is the nuts-and-bolts implementation of the ideas we introduced two weeks ago:

  1. Impactful Leadership. Continuing to raise the bar on performance and execution, while bringing our focus back to the foundation of what we do best.

  2. Aces In Their Places. Getting the right people in the right seats, and leaning into their strengths in order to expand our opportunities and grow the pie for everyone involved.

Here’s what that means for us, and for you.

Scaling Up

Today we are thrilled to be able to work with 67 of these businesses on a recurring basis. And when I say thrilled it is not hyperbole. Because for us that means:

  • 67 opportunities each day to create more profit.
  • 67 opportunities each day to build better long-term relationships.
  • 67 opportunities to free up owners, operators, and brewery teams in order to create more space to work, brew beer, and build the wonderful communities they’ve curated.

We are grateful. And if that was all we could muster, it would be more than enough.

So why continue to grow?

Let’s zoom out on the bigger picture problem we’ve set out to solve.

When put up against the roughly 9,000 microbreweries, taprooms, and brewpubs currently operating in the U.S. that we could help in some way, that 67 (a whopping 0.7% of the industry) starts to look a lot more like a drop in the ocean than any sort of meaningful destination.

And so when we ask ourselves, “What are the other 99.3% doing?” we start to get that feeling you get when you stand up, look around, and don’t see anyone else there alongside you to handle the situation you know needs to be handled…

Now don’t get me wrong. This is not us navel-gazing our way into the delusion that we, Small Batch Standard, are “the one true answer” to the financial function within the brewery. This is not a new problem, nor one that will go unsolved if we ceased to exist.

What I am saying, is that when you’ve landed on something that definitively works, and works better than the alternatives you see available around you, the natural (and I believe correct) response is to ask: “Who else can I help?”

We believe we have that here with the work that we do, the team that we’ve assembled, and the industry that we serve… and that without a shadow of a doubt, more breweries will be better off as a result of working with us.

And so not only are we aiming to roughly double our total breweries served this year, we believe that number can and will be more like 300 clients heading into 2026.

We’re not in a rush. But we’re highly convicted, motivated, and clear on what we’re here to do.

Which is great for us (yay, us!).

But why should anyone else care?

Doubling Down

In addition to better serving our mission by continuing to grow our clients and team, we fundamentally believe SBS is a better company at scale. And the easiest way to think about this is purely: the “number of smart brains” working on your business.

It’s no secret that:

  1. The only reason you’re here is because SBS has accumulated some meaningful level of expertise on what it takes to build and run a successful craft brewery.

  2. Although each brewery is unique, we are not (fully) special snowflakes here. Each problem we solve in a specific scenario benefits the general knowledge base.

And so what we’re left with is something like:

So scale to us does not mean indiscriminate growth for the sake of growth, diluting our expertise in the process.

Scale to us does mean doubling down on what we do best, increasing our expertise with each additional brick added to the wall. It means we can:

  • Enhance our level of service. Better systems. More access. Quicker turnarounds. We can dedicate more bandwidth to improving and fine-tuning our bookkeeping, accounting, compliance, tax, and consulting processes. We can create a faster, more precise, and more seamless client experience. We raise the bar on what we already do well.

  • Continue to build and develop our team. Today we can bring new perspectives and brainpower to the table that we simply couldn’t afford to when we were small. We can also continue to invest in and elevate our current team members, both in their skill set and in their ability to contribute their expertise in its highest form. That additional contribution flows directly into the brewery.

  • Use data to drive results and insight. This is our next frontier. We’ve been on the data aggregation and tech development learning curve since early 2020, and we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. As we scale, we can invest in building out our data “back end,” which we believe is the path to providing more specific, relevant, and impactful answers to the most pressing financial decisions breweries are faced with. This shows up directly in our advisory work, creating more profit for our breweries. It shows up indirectly in the quality of the insights we share with the industry as a whole.

Visually, instead of seeing SBS as a subset of this one (albeit, pretty awesome) brain:

It is far more compelling to know that when you engage with us, in any form, what you’re really accessing is the collective knowledge of all of these folks, working on that same set of problems day-in, and day-out:

I’m also happy to report that we’ve been rapidly progressing down this path since the start of the year:

  • We’ve brought on a Brand Associate to extend Chris’ impact and increase the frequency of our SBS Roadshow events (Detroit in two weeks!).
  • We’ve added a dedicated Onboarding Manager to the mix to give our new breweries a seamless onramp into the SBS Way, as well as additional Accounting Team talent at multiple levels to expand our ability to offload owners and their teams.
  • We’re currently interviewing for a Data Engineer to build out our Compass data pipeline so that we can enhance the product and our ability to deliver customized benchmarks and recommendations.

And not to mention the 9 incredible new breweries we’ve had the privilege of starting up with since Jan 1. We are thankful, excited, and ready.

The Time Is Now…

And really, it always has been.

However, this moment in particular is one in which we’ve fully recognized our purpose.

The contribution we must make to an industry that deserves focus, effort, and improvement.

The standard we’ve decided set, when we could choose to do less.

The role we need to play to support you and your goals.

Paul Akers, the obscure lean manufacturing guru I’ve been following since my early days in the auto industry, puts it best:

“Lean is the hard work that makes everything easy.”

That’s the hard work we’re here to do. And the more we can remove the barriers to producing exceptional beer, exceptional communities, and exceptional experiences, the better.

That’s our mission.

That’s where we’re headed.

And I’m thrilled to be on that journey with you.

Talk soon,


P.S. While 99% of my communication will continue to be team-facing, I am committed this year to publish more of my thinking. Beyond the periodic updates you’ll see from me here, Twitter has become my own personal stream-of-consciousness outlet. If you’re interested in chatting about team-building, business, or beer, head on over. I’d love to connect.

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