Don’t Start a Business, Start a Crusade

While back in the UK these last few weeks I had the great opportunity to meet David McDowall, Managing Director of BrewDog Bars at the BrewDog bar in Glasgow. We had a great discussion about their business model, sustainability, authenticity and their ground-breaking approach to equity crowdfunding.


Photo: Simon Robinson

As you can see on their bottles, they are very much about soul and purpose, something which is absolutely aligned with my concept of Customer Experiences with Soul which I have been writing and talking about recently. Purpose on its own is not enough, you need to create customer experiences with soul.

David was very generous in giving me a copy of James Watt’s book Business For Punks: Break All The Rules the BrewDog Way. James is one of the founders of BrewDog, and I’ll be reviewing his book soon on my blog as I am enjoying it so much, but for this article I just wanted to mention one critical phrase that really captures the essence of what a new business, start-up or new venture should be all about.


Photo: Simon Robinson

James tells us not to start a new business, but to start a crusade. This brilliantly solves a problem I have seen recently in the confusion between vision statements, mission statements and purpose. At BrewDog everyone is 110% clear. Purpose? Mission? They do not worry about the semantics. It is just about being absolutely clear, passionate and totally punk about their raison d’être:

It is no longer enough just to start a business. You need a clear purpose, a mission and a reason for existing. Martin and I did not just start a brewery – we set out on a mission to make other people as passionate about great beer as we are. This promise and premise underpins every single thing we do, and acts as a resolute reference point for every single decision we make.

BrewDog are a fascinating company to look at, as they really do live and breathe their mission. What I like about BrewDog is their authenticity. Not only do they make great beers and also run fantastic BrewDog bars, but they are champions of craft lagers full stop.


Photo: Simon Robinson

As James writes, having a captivating crusade at the heart of your business is the first step to creating a sustainable and thriving business which will survive long enough to really make an impact in the world. Personally, it is one thing to have a mission, but absolutely another to build a business where each and every person lives and breathes that mission, including your customers.

There is the conventional way, and then there is the punk way, but punk is not about anarchy and annihilation, its about the passion and the desire to smash the status quo and for that you will not be able to do so just by starting a business, but by starting a crusade.

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Customer Experiences with Soul

2 responses to “Don’t Start a Business, Start a Crusade

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Business for Punks | Transition Consciousness·

  2. Pingback: Corporate Punks – A Contradiction in Terms? | Transition Consciousness·

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