The Brewery’s Next Barrier Is You (Ownership Bottleneck Series)

Back when we ran the Pro Tips series, we received a ton of great, thoughtful feedback.

Many readers thanked us for bringing best practices to light. And in particular, sharing tips most people in the industry aren’t talking about.

The brewery executive team chimed in with opinions and questions on marketing, distribution, building out a sales team… you name it.

And finally, owners themselves expressing their commitment to turn pro, decided to join the SBS inner circle, and adopt our Numbers-Powered Growth process.

As much as we thought that series touched on some of the most important aspects of running a successful brewery….

All of those pro tips were about just that: the brewery.


The brewery didn’t start itself.

The brewery doesn’t run itself.

The brewery doesn’t fund itself.

When we frame the problem from the perspective of the business as a whole, it ends up producing solutions that are less… well… personal.

Funny enough, there was actually another set of emails I got from the pro series that I didn’t mention up top. All of them said the same thing – something to the effect of:

“Hey man, the bottleneck is me. What do I do? How do I build out the team?”

Emails from owners ready to take that next step, but stuck.

Business owners tend to link our identities with our businesses, for better or for worse, but the reality is you’re not the brewery.

You’re you.

With all of the hopes, fears, dreams, family, friends, and life outside of the brewery that have to work along with it.

Where’s the bottleneck?

So if you think production or capacity is the bottleneck at your brewery, I want you to stop and take a look in the mirror.

brewery bottleneck image

Oftentimes business owners like to blame inanimate objects for our desire to control the business. The result is a firm choke hold on your business’s ability to breath and grow.

The truth is:

You’re the bottleneck.

The bottleneck happens slowly, as you wear 100 hats to address the complexity and challenge of making it all work in the early days. Founders typically choose one of two paths.

Option 1: Run around like crazy

The brewery has zero process, zero structure, and somehow manages to pull it all together, brew some good product, and make some money through energy and enthusiasm and a little luck.

While this crew can keep the engine turning over at least for a while, there’s a cap. A limit to how far they can make it. And “average” is just about the best these breweries can manage.

Option 2: Tighten the grip

These breweries run like well-oiled machines. How? Full, unadulterated, owner-driven operational control.

Air-tight breweries with highly-disciplined, Type A, urgent CEOs do really well… but they’re all burning out. The business is a ticking time bomb, and the fuse is the owner’s willingness to suffer.

They pour everything they’ve got into the brewery, and as a result the slowly suffocating weight of having literally everything dependent on their brilliance and decision-making starts to wear on them.

If you’re not careful, this approach will grind you down into a pulp, until you just can’t anymore. Burnout. Leave of absence. “I can’t make this work.”

If you’re good at guessing the plot of movies, you probably know what I’m about to say next.

There’s another option.

A 3rd path. The Way, you might call it.

And that’s what this next series is about.

The Ownership Bottleneck Series

Starting on Monday, we’re kicking off a new series.

And this time it’s all about YOU.

The owner, founder, CEO.

How you can extricate yourself as the bottleneck and in doing so release the potential of your brewery.

So here’s what’s coming up:

  • Week 1: Delegation. Eek! Yea. Loosing the grip is terrifying. But what’s even more terrifying is feeling like it’s never an option in the first place. Delegating is the first step towards freeing yourself from the entrepreneurial shackles.
  • Week 2: The Perfect Org Chart. Wrong people? Never gonna work. Right people, wrong seats? Doomed to failure from the start. Right people in the right seats. Off to the races.
  • Week 3: Accountability. This is where it all falls apart… usually. Delegation to an exceptional team quickly becomes both a time suck and an overhead liability without accountability. We’ll touch on where this goes south and what to do instead.
  • Week 4: So what do I do now? A subconscious barrier to relinquishing control: “What do I do now? Is this even my business anymore? Will I be put out to pasture?” We’ll spend some time clarifying what the owner’s role should be now that you’re ready for the next phase.

As usual, all of these tips will be honest and direct which may not be what you want to hear.

This will be what you need to hear.

And if that’s going to offend you, then please close this browser tab before I hurt your feelings.

But if you’re ready to hear some more #truth…

Stick around and you won’t be disappointed.

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