Becoming a successful entrepreneur isn’t always about making money.
That’s according to Samuel Adams founder and billionaire Jim Koch, who sat down for an interview with FOX Business at the Samuel Adams Crafting Dreams Beer Bash on Sept. 7, 2022, in New York City.
The originator of the craft beer behemoth offered some of his best advice for young entrepreneurs.
Focus, he said, on what brings true happiness instead of what brings in the dough.
“Forget about rich,” he said.
“You should ask, ‘Is the business I’m going to start going to make me happy?’”
While getting rich off a business idea can be a long shot, Koch emphasized that achieving happiness is “for real.”
When Sam Adams first began, the founder shared that his original five-year business plan was to produce 5,000 barrels per year with eight employees on the team.
This would bring in a little more than $1 million in revenue, leaving Koch with $75,000 to pay himself per year — an outcome that would still make him “just as happy,” he said.
“Had my original business plan come to pass, I’d be a happy man today,” he said.
For young brewers looking to get ahead in the beer-making market space, Koch recommended choosing an objective that is unique compared to the competition — just as Sam Adams aimed to stray from the mass-produced, mass-marketed beer of the early ’80s.
“They’re not trying to be great beer — they’re the McDonald’s, the Burger King and the Taco Bell of beer,” he said.
“And I have a lot of respect for that. Those are hard things to make at the level of consistency that they make them and those are good brewers, but their objective is different than mine.”
Koch said the secret to Sam Adams’ success was the “obsessive fixation” on product quality.
The founder said he also set himself apart from those who work with imported beers by using brown bottles for his brew as opposed to green — which gave the beer a less “skunky” and fresher taste and smell.
In 1985, the then-very new Samuel Adams, made up of only a team of three, was invited to attend the Great American Beer Festival.
At that event, their brew was awarded Beer of the Year.
“It reinforced an idea that there were actually quality differences in beer,” he said.
“Before that, beer was beer.”
“And that’s the advice I would give to up-and-coming brewers: Make sure that your first ingredient is quality and passion and care and attention.”
Koch also encouraged young brewers to “make themselves important” within their communities to enhance and strengthen their consumer outreach.
Samuel Adams is looking forward to continuing its streak of innovative brewing, according to Koch, as there are many “great” alcoholic beverages to still be created.
“There’s always room for creativity and innovation,” he said.
“We’re Americans — that’s what we do. The status quo sucks!”
As an example, Koch considered the explosion of hard seltzers as the “fastest growing” business trend over the last 50 years.
After Boston Beer created Truly, the first-ever hard seltzer on the market, Koch said the beverage opened up a “whole new area for creativity.”
“Let’s go into this whole new blue ocean and see what we can find,” he said.
“There’s going to be a lot of really cool, wonderful, delicious, high-quality beverages — and we want to be the one to create them,” he said.