They say that parents make all their mistakes with their first child. The same can be said about owners and their first business. Glacier, being my first (and only) business has experienced my mistakes. While the mistakes were not business threatening, they caused me quite a bit of personal suffering. Just before I bought Glacier I was told that as a business owner I would only work half days. It was up to me which 12 hours that would be. The truth is, when I took over I was working up to 16 hours a day and up to 7 days a week. Why? Because of 2 simple mistakes.
Mistake #1: Doing everything the exact way that the previous owners were doing things. After a couple of months I realized things would not get better if I kept doing the same things every day. I have a production background (which was useful), and I used it to review every step of the processes we follow to produce wine, beer, etc. I made some adjustments that cut down on the time spent with the different products. These were NOT shortcuts, just efficiencies that made life easier. I was able to reduce my work day to about 10 hours (sometimes 8 hours), and my work week 5.5 days (sometimes 5).
Mistake #2: Thinking that I cannot make money if my doors are closed. For 5 and a half years I did not take a vacation. I took a couple of extra days during Christmas and Easter, but that was it. If you have good customers (all mine are great), they understand that breaks are necessary. Customers won’t wander off if you close for a vacation. They will be back. Just expect to be very busy on your return. Last February I took my first vacation since early 2008. I needed it. My customers told me it was about time (like I said, they’re great).
I shared these 2 mistakes because they are big ones. I’m not the only person to experience them. If you ever decide to go into business for yourself, you may want to keep this in mind. Details are important, and adjusting them to your style is necessary. Having said all this, I’m now going to take July 2nd, 3rd and 4th off for some me time.