Asserting ideas, achieving goals: be an asshole!


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Text comes from: Business für Punks: Brich alle Regeln! (2016) by James Watt, published by Münchener Verlagsgruppe (MVG), Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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If you want to push your ideas through and achieve goals, you have to be an asshole in a way. At least a certain amount of egoism is part of it: Because not everyone likes that either: Those who want to be successful do (usually) well to ignore the advice of others.

Asserting ideas, achieving goals: be an asshole!

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James Watt is the founder of BrewDog

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Tear the rules to shreds!

In the 1970s, punk rock changed the world. It was more than just music. He was a cultural phenomenon. Our business at BrewDog is built on the punk mentality. At its core, punk is about learning the skills you need to do something on your own terms. At BrewDog we reject the status quo, we are committed, we don't give a damn about everyone and we always do things that make us true to ourselves. From the beginning we had an anti-authoritarian and non-conformist approach.

Inspired by everything that is punk, we wanted to instigate a contemporary rebellion against types of beer that conformed to the mass market without any taste and a tough revolt against brands that are so meaningless that you immediately forget them. We took an anarchist, undoubtedly daring, do-it-yourself approach, tore the business rules to shreds and did our own thing. The results have been overwhelming.

"From my point of view, punk means being an individual and swimming against the current." Johnny Ramone (punk archetype)

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"I've always said that punk is an attitude ... It had something to do with destruction and the creative potential that lies in it." Malcolm McLaren (original punk)

Hello, let's change the world

Flashback to 2007. BrewDog was born in a shed in a remote, godforsaken industrial estate in northeast Scotland. Martin Dickie (my best friend) and I started a tiny brewery with a huge mission: to revolutionize the UK brewing industry and completely change British beer culture. This book documents the philosophy behind our wild roller coaster ride, from which BrewDog emerged as a disruptive catalyst for the craft beer movement in the UK and beyond.

Prior to founding BrewDog, I had turned my back on my legal career and tried my hand at the surging waters of the stormy North Atlantic, first on the deck of a deep-sea trawler and then as a fully trained captain. Five years of work in one of the harshest environments in the world and in captain training taught me a lot about people, leadership, teamwork and setbacks. It was incredibly tough, but I loved every second of it. Ultimately, effective crew leadership must be top-down, bottom-up, and every other direction in between.

There is no room for doubt in the most dangerous place on earth

Many of my unorthodox business strategies that blew the sails of the pirate ship BrewDog were shaped on the stormy Atlantic. In one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, there is no room for doubt; risk is lurking everywhere, leadership must be quick and determined, and survival is always the first step to success. I found it hard to hang up my captain's hat, but I discovered something I loved even more than the sea: craft beer. I've always been passionate about beer, and I started homebrewing in retaliation in 2004 when Martin and I brewed a storm in our garage.

The chance encounter with the legendary British beer specialist Michael Jackson led Martin and I to take the step of realizing our dream and founding our first own craft brewery. After Michael tasted one of our homemade brews, Michael said we should quit our jobs and start brewing. That was the last advice we ever took.

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From two-man operation to global success

For the past four years, BrewDog has officially been the fastest growing food and beverage company in the UK and the fastest growing bar and restaurant operator, topping the growth charts in not just one but two industries, both domestic as the international business became noticeably stronger. Our operation, which started at just £ 30000 *, now has sales of over £ 50 million and has made solid profits every single year since it was founded.

What started in 2007 with two people and a dog has naturally become one in less than eight years Company that employs 500 people. We deliver our BrewDog beers to over 50 countries because we want to question people's perception of what beer is and, in the end, infect others with our passion for craft beer by bringing diversity of flavors and craftsmanship back into beer glasses. Martin and I also do the longest-lived beer show in television history: BrewDogs is now broadcast in over 20 countries.

Come on and show what you can do!

Our brewery, still in the north east of Scotland, is one of the most technologically advanced and environmentally friendly in the world. In addition to our state-of-the-art brewery, we now own and operate over 40 BrewDog craft beer bars in flagship locations in Tokyo, London, Edinburgh, São Paulo, Rome, Barcelona, ​​Helsinki, Berlin and Stockholm. And recently we started building a flagship brewery in Columbus, Ohio. Starting an ambitious small company with almost no start-up capital is daring, turbulent - and lonely. Our blissful naivety and lack of experience turned out to be our greatest asset. We didn't know how to do that, so we just went to work and did it our own way. And on that occasion, we inadvertently created an entirely new approach to business. Business for Punks outlines this revolutionary philosophy and states that there are both good and bad sides to learning how to run and grow a business the hard way.

The conditions for small businesses have changed radically in recent years. Business for Punks is a manifesto for 21st century companies. Tear up the thick old textbooks, defend yourself against the status quo, bring down the establishment and welcome the dawn of a new era! The following applies: Business start-ups are not for homeless self-protection militias. In all likelihood, a company will fail.

80 percent of all start-ups fail right at the beginning

The stars are bad. 80 percent of all company start-ups fail within the first 18 months. That's 800 out of 1000, eight out of ten, four out of five start-ups that flop and perish after being founded. It's just a fact. No matter how you write it, it doesn't read nicely. These devastating mortality statistics are a relentless reminder of today's brutal economic environment. So, if you are thinking about starting a business, in all likelihood it will fail. And it's not just your business that gets hit in the process - your future, your self-confidence, your dreams and of course your bank account are also going down the drain.

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Let's say you are tough and survive the first 18 months. The likelihood of becoming a sustainable, long-term business is still less than one in 20. Another clearly audible wake-up call. With only a five percent chance of survival, make sure that you are focused, ruthless, ambitious, and motivated from day one. Then maybe you can do it. But just maybe ... The decisions you make during the formative months of your company determine your place in the world.

The most important decision of your life

They are the most monumental decisions you will ever make, and they will shape your new business in ways that you cannot even imagine at the time. So buckle up, hold on tight, and face the challenge. You need to make sure that your ideas and how they are implemented are nothing short of mind-blowing. It is a creepy paradox that the choices you make when everything is the most difficult and you are the most inexperienced will take you many years to live with.

You have to earn the right to exist and find a reason why you are even remotely relevant. So arm yourself for the darkest, toughest and most intense years of your life. You have to be versatile, learn everything and do everything. And you have to learn to deal with constant rejection, love to be merciless, and find opportunities in even the most hopeless dead ends. Starting your business will be incredibly brutal, yet somehow great and fulfilling. This part is about laying the foundations, building the scaffolding, and making sure that the decisions you made in those first few years serve well and ensure that your start-up only explodes in a positive way. The rest of the book builds on the fundamentals outlined in this part.

Don't start a business, wage a campaign!

If you are thinking about starting your own business, the most likely failure is. Therefore: Do not do business, lead a campaign! Because companies fail. Companies die. Companies are forgotten. Revolutions never die. So start a revolution, not a company. It is no longer enough to just start a business. It needs a clear goal, a mission and a reason to exist.

Martin and I didn't just start a brewery - our mission was to instill the same passion for great beer in other people as we feel. This promise and requirement underlie everything we do and serve as a clear reference point for every decision we make.

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3 tips: Successful businesses have a mission

Whatever type of business you create, you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is anchored by a strong, meaningful, easy-to-understand, and fully self-contained mission. For example:

  1. Instead of starting a shoe store, Zappos launched a campaign to improve customer service by treating its employees extremely decently.
  2. Noma has not opened a restaurant, but has committed itself to the mission of reinvigorating Nordic cuisine and has even written its own manifesto for Nordic cuisine.
  3. Apple has not opened a computer store, but is instead on a mission to change the world through technology.

3 tips: do something you love!

Do what you love with a clear mission. The closer everything revolves around your raison d'etre, the better your offer will be received by customers and the easier it will be to turn customers into fans. Assume nobody cares. Assume that everyone doesn't give a shit and that no one is listening. Now think about how you can get people to care about what you do. If you can't do that, your business is doomed.

  1. Don't just open a bakery in Idaho, go on a crusade to educate people about the health and taste benefits of fresh sourdough bread.
  2. Don't just open a hair salon in Berlin, find out how much fun a customer can have while they have their hair cut.
  3. Don't just start a car repair shop in Manchester; make it your mission to redefine what people expect from automotive service.

7 Tips: This is what your mission is about

If money is your motivation, you have to be the greedy, mean bastard in the world to get a business up and running. Companies that focus exclusively on money do exist, but I don't want to have anything to do with them or their employees. As customers gain more insight, only financially oriented companies will suffer the same fate as dinosaurs. Goodbye forever! If your main reason for starting your business is financial, please stop reading this text now. For everyone else who wants to know what distinguishes a mission from a normal business: Here are the most important points!

  1. When you have a mission, you can put everything you do in the context of a higher purpose and commit everyone within your company to a common goal,
  2. The mission must be unique and compelling. Your team and your prospects need to be able to get involved.
  3. It is your mission that sets you apart. Your biggest challenge from day one is giving people a reason to care - and that reason has to be your mission.
  4. In our saturated reality there is practically no market for another brand, company, product, or service. But the market for something to believe in is unlimited. Give people something to believe in!
  5. You have to stand up for something that extends beyond your core competencies in order to have any chance of standing out from the crowd. People no longer just want to buy a product or service. 21st century consumers increasingly want to be able to identify with companies and organizations whose missions and beliefs are compatible with their own belief systems and to expand them.
  6. Your customers need to be actively involved in making you succeed, and you need to provide them with a compelling reason to do so. Through a strong mission, you can get people interested and make them your ambassadors. Having a compelling campaign at the heart of your business is the first step in making sure your company lasts long enough to make an impact.
  7. Make sure you are starting a business for the right reasons. If you're just making money and want to be a big player, you'd better go into a desperate company. Sell ​​your soul to the devil and become one of those treadmill candidates in an expensive suit. Startups are an incredibly tough environment and you will need something to hold onto. And what you and your team can hold onto is the mission.

Be Selfish!

I love to ignore advice just as much as all these solid posts love to give me it. My advice to all those seeking advice is: Save yourself that! Advice is for freaks and clowns. Those who are really committed will find their own way. Inevitably, when you start a business, everyone you know and everyone you don't know turns into absolute experts. Ignore them all. Hold on to your vision, make your own rules, and give hell to others. You know what you want and how you get there is your business.

Forget all those stuffy know-it-alls - they don't have a clue. Others don't understand, and it certainly isn't as important to them as it is to you. Whether your business stands or falls should be based on your decisions, not those of some amateur part-time business gurus. These self-appointed professionals will advise you to "learn from your mistakes." Learning from mistakes is for losers! Taking solace in the fact that mistakes teach you sometimes is that stupid logic used by lesser mortals to justify their own shortcomings. The only thing you can learn from your mistakes is that you are not good enough and you have to get better. You have to be clear about one thing: what you really learn something from is success.

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Do not learn from mistakes, learn from successes!

When mistakes are made, the secret is not to waste time trying to learn anything from them, but to be smart and agile enough to correct them as quickly as possible. You need to be attuned to your business in such a way that you can identify potential problems as they arise and prune them before they develop branches and flowers. And by branches, I mean a fully loaded AK-47 aimed at your neck.

It's certainly far from easy to do everything your own way, but in the end it pays off and you can enjoy the fact that with your success you have properly shown it to all those wimps. Be convinced. The more firmly you are convinced of your idea, the less need there is for others to give you advice. The better your idea, the less credible the advice of others. You know your stuff, you've pondered this idea for a long time and carried it around, and now you become - you alone! - put them into practice.

Advice is only for freaks!

A patchwork of other people's half-baked ideas and tips is a recipe for disaster, nothing else. Don't follow if you can also lead. Be a selfish bastard. Seriously, it has to be. If you're not 110 percent behind it, nobody will care. So dance to your own tune and do things as you see fit. Make artisanal products that you enjoy, create a comfortable environment, and provide the kind of service you would like to use yourself.

Maybe focusing on something obsessed with tunnel vision doesn't make you pin-up of the month. But that's the difference between success and failure. Your greatest asset is you and your irrefutable belief in and commitment to your company. Just as you should ignore advice, you must also be completely blind to the real world. The real world is not a place, it's just an excuse. A justification for mediocrity. An excuse not to even try. It promotes the average and sets the bar equally high for everyone. Ignore them. Declare war on her. She died for you. Cause of death: their unsuitability. My advice to all those seeking advice is: Save yourself that. Advice is for freaks and clowns.

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