Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Patrick Steffens, head brewer and general manager of Lost Barrel Brewing LLC., located in Middleburg, VA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Lost Barrel Brewing is a craft beer brewery located in beautiful Middleburg, VA. We use natural ingredients and state-of-the-art equipment to produce high-quality beers and hard seltzers that represent the spirit of lost treasure. Every day we strive for quality, consistency, and variety. We have delicious food offerings to complement our farm fresh beer and hard seltzer selections, bringing you the ultimate brewery experience with every visit. Come to Lost Barrel for the beer, stay for the experience, and enjoy the view.
Tell us about yourself
I began brewing beer in my basement at home in 2012. What started as a hobby quickly became a passion (maybe an obsession), and I launched my first craft beer business in 2015. I've always considered beer-making to be the perfect mix of art, science, and engineering, and that is what has kept me motivated every day to do what I do!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Launching my first business in 2015 and getting "over the hump" was a huge milestone in my life because it gave me the confidence that I could do it. I CAN start a business. In my current company, I'm incredibly proud that we have been able to maintain a roster of over 40 employees through a pandemic filled with angst and uncertainty. Providing a stable source of income for others is an incredibly rewarding experience as a small business owner.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I think it's safe to say that the demand on your time is the most difficult challenge as a small business owner. Your work and personal life meld together into one version of "you" and the things you're trying to accomplish with your life will stretch your time incredibly thin. You have to be willing to prioritize your business goals above many things, including friends, family, and leisure activities.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Read, read, read! There are many incredible books out there on starting a business, developing an organization, communication skills, and being an effective leader. Some of my favorites are "Sense of Urgency," "Effective Executive," and "Crucial Conversations."
- Seek out partners with complementary skills. My skill set revolved around beer-making. My partners have experience in accounting, marketing, real estate, construction, contracts, etc. These are incredibly valuable skills for any business.
- Don't be afraid to try and fail. The path to your vision may not be as straight as you would like. Learning along the way and committing to doing things better the next time around is a defining characteristic of a great entrepreneur.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
If you decide to jump into a business venture, be prepared for the avalanche of "micro-decisions" that you will need to make on a daily basis. People rely on "the boss" for more decision-making than you may think, especially in a small business where you play the role of every department head (finance, marketing, HR, etc.). Try not to get frustrated. Develop your teams' confidence to bring you solutions instead of problems. Also, you have to take care of yourself to take care of an organization. The notion that entrepreneurs don't sleep is wrong and dangerous! Healthy sleep makes you a more effective leader. There is a great book called "Your Oxygen Mask First" that dives deeper into this subject, and it's a great read!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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