Tuesday, February 12, 2013

10,000,000 Things

You would think that getting a brewery up and running would be about making beer - and it is.  We consistently talk about making quality beer as our number one job, so that everything else comes second.  We are really clear on that and it is the touchstone for all of our conversations about plans and priorities.  If we aren't proud of what we make and what ends up in your pint glass, there is no reason to do this. 

But even with quality beer as job number one, it leaves a lot of things competing to be job number two, not to mention numbers three through three hundred.  And even when the process of making beer seems to be in hand, it is amazing how time-consuming everything after job number one can be.  And, that is doubly true when you are doing a lot of things for the first time.  Our business cards are a nice microcosm of the million small things that take inordinate time and thought to do the first time, but which will be oddly easy every other time.

Designing a business card involves a few very specific items and some abstract ones.  Definitely chicken & egg stuff, since you simply can't finish the job without both.  On the abstract side, you have to decide what your business card is going to "look" like - it's overall design.  For something so small, it can say a lot about your company in a very small space.  I assume that no one is ever going to make a decision to buy our beer or not buy our beer solely based on our business card, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have a role in communicating something about who we are and what we do.  For instance, if our business card featured hot rod cars, or pictures of cats, or a drawing of a hop vine done by a three-year old, you would think three very different things about our brewery - and probably none of them would communicate to you that we think making great beer is our number one job.  And even when you make a decision about the "look" of the card, then how that gets translated onto that little square of paper takes some thought.  A generation or more ago, the look of every card was pretty much in line with every other, but now all of those elements are up for discussion - what goes on the front versus the back, do you need a fax number or a physical address or is just the online and social media stuff enough since that can be used to find everything else, and for that matter, what social media stuff gets included - there are literally hundreds of little icons or "bugs" that can go along with your reminder to check out the Facebook page, the Twitter feed, the blog, the pinterest, the tumblr, the instagram, the fangwangle or whatever is hot this week.

And, even when all of this overall stuff gets decided, we still had challenges on a bunch of other stuff - like our address, phone number and e-mail addresses.  Seems simple, but not always.  In our case, our brewery is located in what used to be warehouse space for a construction company and it never had a separate physical address - which means going through a process with the city and post office to get an address.  We also needed a new phone number, which seems easy but in this day and age, that also means a decision about a land-line/cell phone, a IP phone system or some other system, and a decision about what company do you call to get your phone number - your cable company, a telephone company, an internet service or some other provider.  There are similar questions around e-mail addresses - a quick online address from gmail/hotmail/yahoo or whatever, or one connected to your domain (another process altogether) and how is it hosted or users connected. 

We have had questions, issues, discussions, price comparisons and process around everyone one of these things just because it all had to be decided on for the very first time.  It may not take 300 hours to be ready to order business cards for the first time, but then again, it might.  And, it's funny to think about the fact that re-ordering business cards could literally take less than 3 minutes, maybe ever more like 30 seconds, like an e-mail to the printer saying "hey, thanks for the business cards, but we need some more - we'll take another order just like the first." 

I will try to remember to celebrate that day with a pint and just a moment's thought of what it took to get to that place.

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