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10 Things I Learned in the First Year of Business

by Zach Millar, owner of The Dram Shop in Missoula, MT

There are no known unknowns.
Simple right? The fact is, you don’t know what you don’t know. So keep an open mind, and be ready for your perceptions to change. A lot.

You are your best (and often times only) advocate.
You better get used to getting out there and fighting for your dream. Nobody else is going to take over while you sit on the couch and watch Seinfeld reruns.

Lean on your friends.
They’ll want to help you, and you’ll need them. A lot of your network will likely be really excited about your endeavor. Enthusiasm is contagious, so put them in coach.

Be nice.
This seems obvious, but just remember, you don’t know everything. You don’t even know that you don’t know everything yet (see #1). So be nice to EVERYBODY. Chances are you’re going to need their help sometime soon (see #3). And if you do make it through the startup crucible, you’re likely going to owe them a truckload of thank you’s.

Listen to your elders.
Also, listen to your youngers. Heck, listen to anybody who is willing to take the time to give you advice. It’s really important to remember where your scope of knowledge lies. For us, it was somewhere between breakfast and lunch, and we were lucky to get a lot of great advice.

Make fear your friend.
You’re going to need to get used to your fight or flight instinct, because it’s going to follow you around. It probably is already. You’re taking risks. Sometimes really big risks, and there will be times when every sinew in your body will be telling you to split and head for Mexico. Also, Mexico can be a very useful motivational tool.

Be ready.
Running your shiny new business is a lot different than starting your new business. You’re going to have to make a lot of adjustments as you go along, and you don’t want to get caught flat footed. So try not to get too attached to the little things you’ve accomplished along the way. You probably screwed them up and are going to have to go back and redo them.

Study up.
Chances are you’re going to become an expert on a subject that to date you know nothing about. Take parking requirements for example. Not only are they are super interesting, turns out they are kind of important. You’ll be way better off if you can discover problems before they become problems. (See #1)

Keep going.
If you’re anything like us, there will be some doubts. OK, a lot of doubts. You have to learn to put them in a box and throw it off of a very tall building. You can do it. One foot in front of the next.

Success is a trip to the grocery store.
Things get busy and crazy. Really busy and really crazy. When things finally calm down enough that you can do normal, everyday activities without a sneaking suspicion that total disaster lies around every corner, you’ve arrived. You probably just won’t be sure where it is that you’ve arrived at. It doesn’t matter, you’re probably leaving first thing in the morning.

Upcoming Events:

Sunday, April 10th: Patagonia Worn Wear Event Happy Hour and Film 6-9pm

Saturday, April 16th: Cider Tasting featuring Montana CiderWorks

Sunday, April 17th: Saison Week Kick-off and Super Tuscan Wine Tasting

Thursday, April 21st: Firestone Walker Brewery Missoula Release and Tap Takeover

Saturday, April 30th Craft Beer Week Kick-off

CraftBeer.com votes The Dram Shop the “Best Beer Bar in Montana”

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