Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ben Grogan, co-owner of Sage Brewing Company, located in Pasco, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Sage Brewing Co is (shockingly) a brewery dedicated to using local ingredients to create world-class beers for our local market. We aren't in it for big volume and big regional or national sales. We want to craft a classic product to delight our friends and neighbors or those passing through the Tri-Cities community.
Tell us about yourself
As an engineer, I spent many years designing and building production facilities in aerospace and food processing. While it was rewarding work, I always felt a disconnect between myself and the products I created. I wanted to put my skills to work doing something that was truly mine and couldn't pass up the opportunity to build Sage after befriending master brewer and Sage co-owner Tyson. Every day, I find motivation in people and in our product - I love the people I work with, I love seeing happy customers who enjoy our beer and taproom environment, and I absolutely LOVE the stellar beer!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Starting from nothing to building something I'm proud of. Microbreweries are typically not high-margin businesses, so it was an enormous risk leaving the cushy day job to embark on the expensive, exhausting process of creating a business out of a dream and a patch of dirt in the community I love. To see my business operating and appreciated by our patrons is hugely rewarding.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
There are so many challenges that come with being a business owner, but the most striking difference between being a business owner vs. an employee is the sense of obligation I have towards our employees. The business is only as good as the people working at it, and those people have become our friends. Especially during COVID and the dramatic reduction in business, the responsibility to support our employees has been enormously stressful.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do your homework before committing. Good prep work upfront will save so many headaches later.
- Be flexible. Having a solid plan doesn't mean there won't be surprises. Expect change, account for risk, and be ready to tackle unanticipated challenges.
- Communicate with your family. Make sure everyone understands what it's going to take to start and grow your business and get their support. Believe me; you'll need it.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Being a business owner has been more work for less pay than any other job I've ever had. That said, it's my favorite job by far - very few things in my life have been as rewarding as starting and operating Sage. If you have the entrepreneurial itch and high-risk tolerance, do it!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.