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The Dogfish Head Recipe for Success
on September 16, 2006
I am a big fan of Dogfish Head beer and when I found out that brewer and entrepreneur Sam Calagione wrote a book about his company I was anxious to read it to see if Calagione had any interesting tips on the business of brewing and how he has made the Dogfish Head brand practically a household name among both beer geeks and beer critics. What I discovered with this book is that Sam Calagione has some good advice to offer brewing/restaurant entrepreneurs and others who have a pressing urge to start their own company. He has tried many different things, and his penchant for the unusual has proven to be a great success and it forms the backbone of his business.
Calagione spends the majority of this book discussing Dogfish Head Brewing from the early days of formation all the way to the point of maturity. He talks about his own business model and how it has helped transform his company. He talks about everything from innovation to employee morale to profit sharing to community involvement. He shows how his model of success has worked for his type of business and how the same model can be applied to other types of businesses as well.
This book see- saws back and forth between business guide and autobiography but it leans more toward the business side of the equation. Calagione frequently offers up his own company as an example of which business tactics work and which do not. Calagione has achieved a great deal of success but he has the humility to admit that he has also made his share of mistakes. He points these out in the book where appropriate, showing how a misstep here and a miscalculation there added up to exponential problems down the road and what you, the fledgling business owner, can do to avoid making the same mistakes.
Sam Calagione offers some good, basic advice on starting and running a successful company. His writing style is easy to read and his approach to business is a little different from other books of the same genre. Business books can often get boring and tedious to read but this one manages to keep the reader's attention through its simplicity and its personable style. It can get a little bit repetitive from time to time but the advice offered is generally sound and what Calagione says makes good sense. Also, one needs to keep in mind that this book is intended more as a business book for a newly minted entrepreneur. More experienced professional will not find very much useful here. Its targeted audience is the new or soon- to- be- new- small business owner.
One small disappointment with this book is that it's a business guide more than anything else. The reason I say this is because I was hoping to find out more about the man behind Shelter Pale Ale and Chicory Stout and not just a book about starting and running a company. Calagione does share a few personal moments from his past, like his expulsion from private school; his passion for beer; the role his wife has played in his success; etc. But other than this, the book is more about business than anything else.
"Brewing up a Business" is, overall, a good book for the budding entrepreneur and for beer geeks of all stripes and colors. Sam Calagione writes well and he offers up a good deal of humor to keep the book from getting too serious. He has achieved a great deal of success with his Dogfish Head Brewing Company and he wants to share this success with small business owners everywhere. With the right passion, innovation, and drive, a small company can achieve greatness and Sam Calagione is a tribute to this fact.