1. If "Cash is king" then having an important mission is queen.
It has been a year since Bottle Breacher first aired on ABC's Shark Tank. The response from fans has been overwhelmingly amazing. We have grown in so many ways over the last year but that growth has also come with its share of adversity and growing pains. Jen and I are extremely passionate about being able to provide for our family, building a legacy for our children, and giving back to veterans and active duty military. Even though I no longer wear a uniform, my business allows me to continue to serve my country. Bottle Breacher reinvests profits into veteran nonprofits, and has created jobs for veterans, making up 25% of our workforce. We just hired another Veteran last week.
2. How to deal with adversity and why it's a blessing.
No matter how much you think you are ready to deal with the Shark Tank effect, the fact of the matter is you're probably not even close. The most difficult obstacle we have dealt with as a company was our Post-Shark Tank back log of orders due to the popularity of the Bottle Breacher. Through overcoming this, we have both learned how to become better leaders. We needed to think outside the box and become more innovative. Through trial and error we have created new processes and procedures that allow our production team to keep up with our growing demand. I 'm grateful for adversity because that is where individual and team growth really occur. Jen and I are very thankful that we were able to rise to the occasion and succeed as a company. Many companies in the past have drowned under the weight of their own success.
3. Keep it simple.
Going into next year, we're focusing on keeping our business development strategies simple and making sure that my ambition to grow Bottle Breacher does not overwhelm my staff. At Bottle Breacher we get pitched new ideas, new processes, and products from vendors multiple times every single day. It's easy to get side tracked and to lose focus on what keeps the lights on and makes us a profitable company. Bottle Breacher is still located in the same humble 3000sqft incubator space that we were in before the show. I still drive the same 2004 Chevy Silverado that I bought over 10 years ago and my old kitchen table is still my personal desk in my office. There is nothing wrong with having nice things, but my focus needs to be reinvesting our profits back into the business and how to make us relevant in the years to come. I'm sure I will buy a new truck and maybe even a new desk in the future. But those "things" are both liabilities, not assets. Though they might make us look more successful, neither would bring in an extra dime of revenue.
4. Follow the green, not the dream.
It took us almost an entire year from the time I drew the original concept on a napkin until the Wine Bottle Breacher was rolling off the production line right here in Tucson, AZ. It's very important to stay realistic and understand that to hit a product home run you must accept that not every idea is going to be a winner. It's equally critical that you don't fall too in love with your own ideas to listen to your customers. They're the ones who make the ultimate decision on which products stay and which ones go by voting with their hard earned dollars. I've seen companies push a product for years that aren't turning a profit. They are convinced if they could just get one break or score a meeting with the right person, the tides would turn. This is a time I've taken a page out of one of our investor's books where Mark Cuban talks about "following the green and not the dream". Right now I have a couple of products that I'm extremely proud of that I have put a lot of capital and sweat equity into, but I don't have a crystal ball. Our customer base will ultimately make the decision on whether these products will be a home run, or a swing and a miss.
5. Seek wise council, "you don't have all the answers."
At Bottle Breacher we regularly schedule visits and calls with advisors, mentors and other companies who are strong in areas we want to get better in. This takes a dose of humbleness and the ability to trust. It is our nature as entrepreneurs to be self reliant. We would love nothing more than to live in a world where we have every answer and need absolutely no help. But when we are being realistic, we can all admit that this is never the case. We all need help! PERIOD. It is our job as leaders to have situational awareness and find these mentors and advisors by networking and seeking them out. The best ones are not typically consultants who are motivated by retainers and fees but by very successful entrepreneurs who have been there and done that, and who genuinely want to help us because they were in our shoes just years ago. My main advisor is a man named Mike who has never asked me for a dime for his advice and counsel. He has advised Jen and I from the time we applied to Shark Tank until now. The first time I spoke to him on the phone he offered me a $10,000 loan just because he wanted to help us out. These types of folks are out there. They are not easy to find but you definitely will not find them sitting on your couch.
Though we have grown as a company our commitment to manufacture in the United States has not wavered. We will continue to hire Veterans, and actively seek more ways to pitch in and help those that are still wearing a uniform and Veterans that need a hand up, not a hand out. We're also excited that next year when you visit retailers near you, you might see our products hanging on the shelves, proudly waiting to help another customer open their next cold one in style!!!