Jim Koch started Sam Adams brewery company (now Boston Beer Company) from his family’s kitchen some decades ago and it has grew into a company that employs more than 2,500 people and has annual revenue of more than $2 billion, this wasn’t achieved because he had three degrees from Harvard University but rather due to his several years of experience working at a well-paying consulting position.
Koch holds a law degree and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Harvard, where he also attended college. But at first, he was still confused by the seemingly simple part of running a business: figuring out how to pay his employees.
Koch published Quench Your Own Thirst: Business Lessons Learned Over a Beer or Two in 2016, in which he discussed leaving his job as a management consultant to start his own brewery using his great-great- grandfather’s recipe.
Koch says he was too preoccupied with starting Sam Adams with his first employee and co-founder, Rhonda Kallman, to take the time to learn the meaning of tax deductions and other administrative reasons. He claimed all he did was write Kallman a cheque on her gross earnings and hoped the Internal Revenue Service wouldn’t find out. He stated that if his business Sam Adams failed, “nobody’s going to come after us, because we’re bankrupt and if we do succeed, we’ll hire an accountant to fix all of these problems.” He believes going to learn a course in school is not enough to experience gained in doing a job or experience of a failure in a particular business.
In August 2018, Koch stated that the 2017 corporate tax cut played a significant role in making Boston Beer Company more competitive in comparison to foreign competitors. “When I started Sam Adams, American beer was a joke, and it irritated me,” Koch said. And now, American brewers produce the world’s best beer. And tax reform was a big deal for all of us because foreign companies own 85 percent of the beer made in the United States.
Despite his formal training, Koch claims the project was inspired by his own early company management problems, experiences after the birth of this business idea.
He claims at the time that he was able to take advantage of two of his points: one, access loans and two, perhaps more important, is access to actionable business advice.
According to the Boston Brewing Company, it has provided more than 3,800 small businesses nationwide with loans totaling more than $86 million since 2008 and has also provided business advice to more than 13,000 entrepreneurs. Also, Sam Adams introduced a craft beer “experienceship” in 2012, in which a modest craft brewer received funding and guidance from company management each year.
According to Koch, these abilities can mean the difference between success and failure for anyone trying to come up with a new concept. Without them, you run the risk of “messing up” one way or another, and you just need to pray that your mistakes don’t lead to a horrible result.
It is not just bugging people to do things as the CEO or forcing them to do things outside of the box, but you may have done the wrong thing from the start, Koch once said.
He hold the opinion that one can’t be successful in a business if they haven’t had the experience in that business before, and they will be able to maximize these experiences because they are their (experiences) that would significantly make them different at what they’ll do, and they’ll apply these experiences differently than someone who has no experience on what they’re building.