The past 6 weeks or so since I announced my partnership with Nate have been very busy and very intense. Within just a few days of Nate saying he was on board we were dividing and executing tasks like mad men, sharing what we learned, making decisions. Lots of stuff knocked out very quickly. (As an aside, we’ve been using Asana to accomplish all of our task management and follow up. It’s free and highly, HIGHLY recommended. Seriously, check it out.)
Nate and I have been a well-oiled machine bouncing ideas off of each other, taking on tasks that best suit our strengths and personalities, compromising on ideas that then turned into better ideas. It’s been great. However, there have been some big issues dividing us.
For me, a big part of this journey, a big motivator to finish this, is leaving something for my kids to take over should they choose (and they damn well better!). That desire has always been at the base of the
Panic Alarmist Brewing pyramid. I want my kids to see that if you work hard, dreams really, truly come true. (Ok, not all dreams, ’cause if they ALL came true I’d be writing this aboard Charlize Theron’s yacht anchored off the coast of Sardinia.) This is a very big deal to me. Well, guess what? If you have a partnership, you can pretty much kiss that goodbye. You partner doesn’t necessarily want to work with your future grown up children, and vice versa. So that means you have to get a partnership agreement together to address what happens if you die or if you want to retire. Do your survivors get the run the business too or do they just get to collect checks from the business? What if the surviving partner runs the business into the ground? What if a partner wants to sell their share of the business because they’re tired of the other partner coming to work naked every day save for the Green Bay Packers body paint he’s sporting?
Yeah, lots of potential problems. Now, as cautious and methodical as I’ve been during this venture, I still manage to make mistakes. The single biggest mistake I’ve made thus far was not really sitting down and thinking about what a partnership means today and more importantly, tomorrow. I’ve never started up a business before, solo or otherwise, so I’m still learning. But I really fucked up when I offered Nate a partnership without considering all the implications.
Now there is NOTHING wrong with Nate. He’s a great guy and we’ve become really great friends (and despite a tough week still are). Nate brings a LOT to the table and any brewery that were to take him on would be a very lucky brewery indeed. He has all the passion, energy, and intelligence required to make it happen.
At the end of the day, however, we have different needs from the business. Not recipe needs, which we were in a lot of agreement on, or marketing needs or anything specifically related to a brewery. As a 45 year old man, I always have an eye looking down the road a ways. Seriously, when you get my age, you’ll completely understand. Things just change, especially with children involved. Nate is in his early thirties and he has a few more good years ahead of him than I do. That alone makes for a difficult path to a partnership agreement.
So Nate and I will not be partnering on
Panic Alarmist Brewing. I will continue solo and will not be partnering with anyone. Nate and I agreed that we should post about this for the simple fact that most brewery start ups involve two or more founders, it seems. We wanted to try to help anyone considering a partnership by letting them know what it was that kept our partnership from becoming a reality. We put far too little thought into the future of the partnership and we were dumb. I was the dumbest. Don’t just think about what your needs are today, really, really think about what you need in the partnership down the road.
And don’t think this is the last you’ve seen of Nate Barth in the Chicago craft beer scene. Oh no. We have some other ideas floating around. It’ll be awhile, but I have a strong suspicion he may be back on the radar down the road.
Nate and I had a great run, we learned an incredible amount of stuff, not just partnership stuff. It’s been a great life lesson and we’re both much better off for having gone through it. Better to figure this stuff out now then when we’re running a 50,000 bbl brewery and I have to keep seeing Nate’s green and yellow dyed junk during football season. Right?