A Business Bible For The Scrappy Millennial.

“This is not scripted and I don’t have questions, I just see where the conversation takes me. This is the diary of a CEO, I’m Steven Bartlett. I hope nobody is listening, but if you are… keep this to yourself.”

Just a few years ago, Steven Bartlett was a broke, university dropout living in one of the worst parts of the UK. Alone and with nothing but a laptop and a dream, he worked tirelessly until becoming a millionaire at 23 and the CEO of Social Chain, an award-winning and hugely innovative social media marketing agency, with a collective reach of over 200 million millennials across their platforms and an enviable global client portfolio that includes Apple, McDonald’s, and The BBC, at 26. At 29, he became the youngest ever Dragon to judge on Dragon’s Den. His podcast Diary Of A CEO was an immediate hit, charting the rise and fall of some of the world’s most impressive, controversial and interesting names (previous guests have ranged from Love Island contestant and Pretty Little Thing Creative Director Molly Mae Hague to scandalised former British politician Matt Hancock to conservative media personality Jordan Peterson) resulting in intense conversational flow, headed up by Bartlett’s own candour.

Bring up the term ‘business podcast’ and before you finish the sentence you’ll have often cleared the room. But as I tuned into Diary Of A CEO last week, my interest was piqued by a man called James Watt, otherwise known as the CEO of BrewDog. BrewDog has been built in an unconventional way, borne out of boredom with conventional lagers and a desire to enjoy great craft beer. In many ways, its story is a rags-to-riches dream; started with £30,000, Watt and his team now have a turnover of £286m, employing 2000 people at 90 locations across the world. They are undoubtedly a massive success story, with many people wondering just how they did it. A desire to put together the type of business manual he couldn’t find when starting BrewDog in 2007 prompted the craft beer company’s co-founder James Watt to put pen to paper in what is modestly billed as “the business bible for a new generation,” and thus, Business for Punks was born.

Jennifer’s Main Takeaways:

“Business podcasts aren’t for everyone, but Bartlett and Watt’s conversation was so engaging, they spoke of success but also some serious lows and mistakes that had happened along the way. The podcast itself inspired me to buy Watt’s book straight after, which is a must-read for anyone overcomplicating their business strategies.

My main takeaways were that you need to be brave as a brand and give people a compelling reason to buy your product. In 2009 Watt needed investment to grow and couldn’t get a loan from the bank so he took matters into his own hands and went out to his community of beer lovers to help him grow his business. Fast forward to today and he has over 200,000 Equity For Punks shareholders. By giving the community a stake in his business he has built a huge community spirit and turned customers into lifelong fans. Watt never looked for a gap in the market, he created his own, or as Watt refers to it “Bake your own pie”. Watt was hellbent on showcasing that beer could be more than just a drink made by global dominating brewers and to date, he is continuing to lead the way and carving a new path for the beer world.

Marketing! Marketing! Marketing! Everything you and your business does is marketing. Modern brands don’t belong to companies, they belong to the customer. And marketing dialogue is a two-way street, with customers actively engaged in shaping your brand. Don’t stand still, stand out. Take risks, safe is boring, safe gets lost, safe is over. There are countless advantages that taking risks has to offer. Entrepreneurs may find a certain strategy that works for them that no one else has taken advantage of because of the significant risk involved. Companies only tend to succeed if they try new ways to build that no one else has already tried. Try not to outsource key competencies such as marketing if you can. Guard every penny you have, and understand your finances intimately… And company culture is 33.3% of anything. According to a Glassdoor report, 55% of employees prioritise company culture over salary. Company culture is important because it affects how your customers and employees perceive your organisation, which directly determines the success of your business. Since remote employees are already physically distanced, it can be a big challenge to build and foster a company culture. But the need for nurturing workplace culture is even greater due to the absence of in-person interactions. Watt was recently pulled up for his management style, pushing his team further than he possibly should have. Reparations are being made, however. Watt has set out plans to take constant feedback within ranks and build the “best company they can,” starting with him giving away nearly a fifth of his equity stake to the firm’s staff. When a company imbibes its culture and core values in all of its processes, it improves employee satisfaction, enriches the overall wellbeing of the workforce, and retains top talent. People make mistakes, but culture is organic, it can’t be imposed, you can only nurture it. Your mission and purpose are more important to internal teams than to external ones.”

Financial advisor to the Irish community pharmacy sector, food & beverage, SME and retail.

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