Merica Bourbon Founder Derek Sisson warns aspiring entrepreneurs “When you decide to make that leap into starting your own business, brace for impact.” Nonetheless he has great advice to share in our latest Veteran Entrepreneur segment.
Derek served five years as a Force Recon Marine and compares the Special Forces to the “entrepreneurs” of the military world.
After leaving the Corps he was forced into entrepreneurship because he needed to make a living but “..there weren’t a lot of companies looking for airborne qualified office managers.” He started and eventually sold an ecotourism business before getting involved the fitness industry. His business travels took him to Europe where he explored vineyards in his off time. Some of these wineries asked for his help expanding distribution to the US and offered to pay him in wine.
Having learned the liquor distribution business pretty well, he partnered with another successful Veteran businessman Daniel Alarik to create Merica Bourbon in 2017. His mission was to produce a high quality product that was still affordable. Merica Bourbon is now distributed in 45 states.
Derek says much of his success is comes from not only having a quality product but also strategic alliances with other Veteran Entrepreneurs like Bottle Breacher. He shares additional recommendations for other aspiring business owners including having sufficient capital to survive the first year and operating with full integrity and transparency. Derrick says that having faith – whether in yourself or a higher power is the number one component in becoming a successful entrepreneur.
There are several tactics he employed as a Recon Marine that have transferred to his business life;
- Structured Reconnaissance – gather information on your competitors to get an edge.
- The power of listening – there is nothing more important than communication
- Small, tight teams as a key to success
TAKEAWAY: “Once you jump out of the airplane, there’s no jumping back in. Don’t rush – learn everything you can about the business before jumping in.”