Business for Punks: Brewdog co-founder James Watts gives his top tops for business success

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In just eight years, James Watt has gone from craft beer enthusiast to the boss of a global company.

Now, the co-founder of Scottish craft beer company Brewdog, has written a book charting what he’s learned along the way.

Business for Punks covers everything from finances to marketing and is billed as an “anarchic” guide to thriving on your own terms.

Here the entrepreneur gives three top tops for business success:

Don’t start a business, start a crusade 

It’s not enough just to start a business, you need a clear purpose, a mission and a reason for existing.

Why? Because businesses die and fade into oblivion. Revolutions never die. So start a revolution, not a business. 

Martin, my business partner, and I did not just start a brewery – we set out on a mission to make other people as passionate about great beer as we are.

Whatever type of business you start, it’s your responsibility to ensure it is anchored by a strong, eminent, readily comprehensible and entirely encapsulating mission.

People no longer just want to buy a product or service, they increasingly want to align themselves with companies and organisations whose missions and beliefs are compatible with, and enhance, their own belief systems.

Your customers will need to be actively complicit in helping you succeed and you need to give them a compelling reason to do so.

You crusade should guide every decision you make; sustain you through stormy seas and be the first step towards longevity.

Your brand is not yours 

Once you have your crusade the most powerful weapon in your arsenal to change the world will be your brand.

A brand is no longer simply a mark or logo. It is every facet of an entire business. It is an emotional reaction that exists insides of your fans, who are the ones who now own and shape it.

As a business you’re only along for the ride and can only try to influence the destination of the ride, but you’re never truly in control.

Be a selfish b*****d and ignore advice

I love ignoring advice as much as every stupid muppet loves giving it to me. My advice, to those seeking advice, is don’t even bother. You need to be driven and know your own way.

“A patchwork quilt of other people’s half-baked ideas is a recipe for nothing but disaster. Don’t follow but lead.”

James Watts

But that won’t stop everyone you know becoming all-conquering experts. Ignore them. Stick to your vision, make your own rules and kick ass.

You know where you’re going and how you get there is up to you. Other people don’t understand, and they certainly don’t care as much as you do.

A patchwork quilt of other people’s half-baked ideas is a recipe for nothing but disaster. Don’t follow but lead.

Networking is for fools 

Networking is indeed for fools. High on the illusion of their own self-importance. Feeding their fragile egos with lukewarm canapés, cheap champagne and slaps on the back from their fellow fools. Trying desperately to cling to the fantasy that they are not only important and relevant but also somehow gifted merely for being in such an esteemed gathering of fellow fools.  

Business, and thank goodness for this, is no longer about who you know. It is, quite rightly, about how good you are. The playing field is now level, the barriers are down, the slimy pimped-up business bourgeoisie no longer hold the keys or the answers. That means there is absolutely no reason at all to waste your time networking with them, or anyone else for that matter.

Businesses built on networking are destined to fail. They will fail fast and they will fail hard.

You’re better off making every single aspect of everything you do better, stronger, faster and more brilliant. Who you know no longer matters. If you are talented and smart, then people will know about you. 

Watt’s book Business for Punks is out now

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November 5, 2015 |
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