Have you ever experienced that feeling (and I'm sure you will have a sense of connection here anyway) of standing at the edge of the door when you're just about to jump out of a plane (I've not actually done that) but the anticipation of leaping into the unknown with the fear of having very little control over what is about to happen...you know; free falling!
Do it. Then do it again.
Then go and do that every day for the next three years.
You'll be good at parachuting for sure but the deep gut wrenching uncertainty, anxiety, fear and elation will never desist and for us that pretty much describes the rollercoaster of emotions of what it's like to own and run your own micropub(s). Overly dramatic? Maybe, but anyone can run a pub; yeah that's right, it's easy isn't it? Then you decide you want to open another one...
...and after 18 months of more than doubling your workload you have a period of reflection and come to realise you have three options:
1. You could scale the business up, open a bunch of them and put in a layer of "management" that protects you from the front line.
2. You get to thinking about why you set off on this journey in the first place and maybe you should redress the balance back to the core values of where you started.
3. Get out of the whole thing completely and go do a "normal" job.
Here's some of the (not so pleasant) stuff we've experienced since owning two micropubs that subsequently lead to us deciding we had to take the second option:
(In an gruff masculine advertising style voiceover) - If you enjoy constantly running around and being in demand; if you thrive on restless, worried and patchy sleep; if you love being both disappointed and astonished by people's behaviour; if you can tolerate publicly posted rumours and lies from duplicitous folk happy to take advantage of your good nature; if you're prepared to delegate responsibilities to some of your employees and still end up doing their jobs for them; if you're happy to lose friends and family because of difficult but necessary decisions; if you think the planning and building stage is the difficult and most exhausting part of the job (they're not), then these are all things we can guarantee will be part of your epic journey into micropub-world.
But you know what? With everything in life there's a balance and there's a whole raft of happy, fun and positive things that have happened and continue to happen since we opened and we always try and focus on the good things we have seen, achieved and been part of because we have made some amazing and genuine friends, have (and had) some fantastic people work for us and support us; and we've become involved in doing good things within our Southbourne community. We receive wonderful feedback and reviews mainly because they are more than the sum of their parts and although we have facilitated what is essentially an adult drinking space, the people who come in to drink are the people who make it what it is. It is possibly the best thing a socialist could ever do, you know, create a social space for the use of the local community; to share and interact; to relax, talk and be a part of something convivial. It is the most rewarding feeling to have built somewhere that others understand and enjoy - the realisation that other people "get it" is immense; a true sense of belonging. Those that don't "get it"? Well there are other places for them.
So we've been away for a bit, spreading the word about good quality real ale and how it should be enjoyed. But we're back now in our beloved Wight Bear knowing we've left a legacy elsewhere in good hands for the future.
It's been one hell of a ride so far and as you've read, not all of it is pleasurable!
We've had a bit of a rebrand and revamp of The Wight Bear logo and website to reflect our change in perspective. We'll tell you more about that soon.
Having kept a professional silence until now we are ready to speak more about our experiences so come and talk to us and we'll be happy to tell you from our side what it's all about.
Oh! What's that? I can hear a plane starting up and it's time to climb aboard again...who would have thought beer was such a challenging and complicated business?