You don't have to go it alone: G2 Brewing
When you're starting up, it can feel like a lonely time. It can be difficult to ask for help, or to delegate things - after all the business is your baby, and you want to be sure everything is done right. However, asking for help and accepting the support of family and friends can make the process much easier and take some of the burden off you. Oli Hawkins is the founder of Kent microbrewery G2 Brewing, and one of our VSU ambassadors. Here are his views on why you shouldn't go it alone.
If you go it alone, when you’re successful you’re often referred to by others and the media as a “Self-made” person. Well personally, I think that's a bit deceptive, and in my opinion disrespectful to all those that have contributed to the entrepreneurs' sucess. Show me an entrepreneur who says they've done it all by themselves, and I will show you a liar. I agree that we as the owners of the business do the work and take the risk, but to pretend we don’t lean on others for support ignores what I consider to be the greatest asset in business.
When starting G2 I tried as much as I could to keep friends and family out of it. There were a number of reasons for this; I didn’t want to have to rely on them, I didn’t want them to take a risk that might not pay off, and to be honest, I didn’t want the extra pressure.
This however was ill-conceived, as inevitably both friends and family have chipped in to help get G2 off the ground. To date I have had help in all areas of the business - from my sister and her partner Carr designing the beer labels, my close friend Nick making their ideas into a reality, Benzo creating our IT systems, and my mum and dad giving me loans for bills and even food (although in fairness, even before I started the business Mum was always loading me up with Weetabix and vegetables - I love you Mum). And the rest of my friends have been there to help keep me sane. Hell, this blog post will even go to two of my closet friends, Conor and Leonie, to make sure I haven’t put something completely idiotic in here.
Before this turns into some weird acceptance speak for an award I haven’t won (though I would like to thank all of the above), I have to mention two others who have over the last 3 months in particular kept me motivated, even when things went wrong and I didn’t want to get out of bed to deal with them. Luu, my partner and Joey, my dog (you may know him from my first blog post). I appreciate that these people (and dog) have no meaning to you and don't help you in any way in your own business venture, but I just want to reinforce the importance of having someone who's always there. In the case of Joey, it's having someone who's always happy to see you, no matter how upset, mad or annoyed you are. However, I don’t think that's as important as speaking to someone you trust about your concerns. So don’t worry - you don’t need to run out and get a dog to start a business (although it would probably help!)
The good thing about friends and family is that they not only offer you daily support, but they offer honest - and that is the key word, honest - advice. It's very easy to get carried away with your own ideas and not realise that you haven’t thought them through properly. Speaking to people you trust can help you focus these ideas, help make sure you are not about to make a mistake and, god forbid, ensure you won't be wasting your money and time. If I had taken my own advice at the start of G2 and not tried to do it alone, I may have avoided a few pitfalls - but could of, would of, should of.
The final thing I want to say about friends and family is that they are always more than willing to help - you just have to ask. The best thing about them helping is that it makes them feel part of your business, and why wouldn’t you want the people closest to you to share in this amazing journey you are on?
So have I gone it alone? Absolutely not. I tried to but found out that life, business and beer all have one thing in common - they are much better when shared.