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​Organic Growth, Good For Food, Better For Business

I will
admit I have never really cared too much about whether or not the foods I’m
eating were grown or raised organically.
I have always had the mentality that “I’ve been eating non organic
fruits and meats since I was a kid and I am just fine.” As a matter of fact, I often laugh at people
who seem to bounce from one fad to the next, just waiting for the next hot tip
on how they are going to transform their lives.
However, now that I have become a home grown entrepreneur I can’t help
but see all the similarities and therefore the importance of caring about how
my food and my business are grown. Have
they been naturally and organically grown by water, sunlight, hard work and
patience or has their growth been supplemented and boosted with hormones and
outside capital?

wanted to tackle this piece and infuse some fresh perspective because I meet
people every day who ask about this very thing. Matter of fact I had a gentleman in my office
yesterday wondering how to grow his idea.
I gave him a tour and made sure to show him the first Bottle Breacher
ever made and emphasized how it was made with spray paint, some polish and a
sticker. I even pointed out some of the
handmade breachers that followed and how crude and unrefined they were since I
had personally cut them with a Dremmel tool.
As we continued to walk through the unimpressive buildings and had to
exit one building and cross an alley way to another building housing a separate
manufacturing process I pointed out how each machine he was laying eyes on was bought
and paid for. When we finished in my
office I pointed out that the desk we were sitting at, used to be my old
kitchen table. This man had approached
me last week at church and told me that he had been following us online. He told me he wanted to start his own
business and asked if I would sit down with him to discuss it. Since my motivation was only to help him I
made sure to drop several hints and even point out many things that most would
be ashamed of or avoid on a tour of their facilities altogether. I did not do this so he would think to
himself, “wow, Eli is really a humble guy,” or “they must be doing really well
here to buy all of this with cash.” I
told him and showed him these things so that he would start to put the pieces
together and understand how important organic growth has been to us and that it
was in fact possible.

Now, I
know there have been many, many businesses who have grown much faster and
bigger than my business ever has or will ever grow that have started from day
one with outside capital from investors or banks. This piece is not to bash those businesses or
people who are looking to go that very route.
As a matter of fact, I love talking with entrepreneurs who have started
their companies in every way imaginable so that I can learn a thing or two. This piece is meant to encourage and possibly
shed some light on why I prefer organic growth in business as much as possible
and show others that with a little creativity and ability to be unconventional
that they too can take an idea an organically nurture it into the next big
thing without having to seek outside capital right off the bat.

Status, where do you stand? I asked the man who came to visit yesterday, “would you rather look strong, or be strong, would you rather be rich or look
rich?” as I toured him around Bottle Breacher HQ in the scorching Arizona
summer. I think he was picking up what I
was putting down. If you are trying to achieve a goal of some sort, whether it
is physical, professional, or relational, you can’t know where you’re going or how
to get there unless you have the situational awareness to know where you stand
right now. For me, I have always been a
dreamer and a visionary. There are at
least 100 new things I want to add to or upgrade in my business from new
manufacturing processes and machinery to new product lines and facilities to
name a few. I won’t even consider any of
it until I feel we are in a healthy enough place to reinvest and risk the very
life blood of this company, our cash. There
are many people who drive cars they can’t afford, buy homes they can’t afford and
operate businesses by maxing out credit lines and tapping out there investors
or plain finding new ones. I’m not
judging, believe me, I have been there and done that. These people may project
success and growth for a certain period but sooner or later economics and
reality catch up and expose the cold hard truth. When you commit to organic growth you really
don’t have to worry as much because you only buy what you can actually afford. Since the great majority of our growth has
been organic and we buy things and assets only when we can afford them it’s
really not that difficult for me to figure out where we stand and even project
where I think we are going to be in the future.
Unfortunately the opposite happens every day in business and I’ve seen
it with my own two eyes. Mr. Smith has a
great idea. He shares great idea with
friends and family. Friends and family
tell Mr. Smith that his idea is in fact great.
Mr. Smith goes out and pitches great idea to possible investors and
banks. He’s loaded with statistical
analysis and data supporting his vision of success. A few investors decide to cut Mr. Smith
checks hoping that he is correct about his idea. Mr. Smith takes there money and goes out and
rents office space, hires a sales force, builds a website and establishes
manufacturing for his idea. Six months
later, money is running out and he is scrambling for more before his product
even hits the shelves. Sometimes the gamble pays off, sometimes it
doesn’t. If it doesn’t Mr. Smith just
burned some serious relationships with his investors or the bank, when you go
the organic route this predicament is never really an issue.

Speed vs. Security.

We used to talk about this topic all the time
in the SEAL teams. Whether we were
assaulting a house or extracting from a routine target we were always cognizant
of our posture and the pros and cons that came with it. The main goal was usually the same., accomplish the mission and get everyone home
safe. Sometimes an aggressive posture
that utilized quickness and speed was the way to go and other times a slow,
methodical posture that bread security best fit our needs. In business we have
experienced both the speed that comes with massive exposure and investors after
being featured on Shark Tank and also
the slow and steady persistence accompanied with organic growth for our first 2
years in the garage. Many seasoned entrepreneurs detest the snail
pace of organic growth and always opt for the speed of pumping outside capital
into their start ups right off the bat.
Many of them have the connections and experience to do so. Most of us do not. As a result we should be very cautious about
what commitments and deals we make with investors and banks. I know there are many business men and women
that have far greater experience than I do that would have been able to take my
business and grow it far faster and bigger than I ever could. That’s just fine with me. I choose to go at the speed that allows me to
understand and comprehend the decisions and moves I am making and stay as
organic as possible. One of my favorite
movies of all time is the Shawshank Redemption with Morgan Freeman and Tim
Robbins. One of my favorite lines in the
movie is when Brooks is talking about geology and how it is really a study of “time
and pressure, time and pressure.” Meanwhile the screen shows Andy slowly and methodically using his tiny
rock hammer to dig a tunnel into the monstrous prison wall. This scene that’s played out in the movie is
how I am starting to look at my company.
A young Eli would not have had the patience to run this business
organically. I would have been off
seeking more capital so that I could grow this place bigger and faster. Not
only am I starting to hone my ability to exercise my patience but I’m also
really starting to enjoy the process and see the building of my business like
Andy saw his tunnel in the prison wall.
Success is only a matter of “time and pressure, time and pressure.”


People tell me all the time, “I
can’t grow my business because I can’t afford to hire anybody to help me
out. If I get a small business loan I
can afford to hire a staff.” This is one
way to go, but not what I would recommend.
I would recommend staying out of debt as long as possible by finding that
person or those people that compliment and have the skill sets to take your
business to the next level and offer them equity partnerships in exchange for
their sweat and hard work. That is one
of the first moves I made. I recruited
my wife to help me market, sell, and handle our book keeping for 20% of the
company. She has been an integral part of
our success and has put in as many hours as anyone since she came on board full
time. By doing this you can bring on “force multipliers” and divide up the responsibility and conquer. This also keeps more cash in the company with
less monthly debt hanging over your head.
Remember this, “60% of something
is worth more than 100% of nothing
.” It means this, you can be greedy and keep 100% of the equity in your
company but if it never grows or becomes successful what do you really
own? Nothing, you own 100% of nothing. The other great thing about sharing equity
with key members of your team is that they are much more likely to grind
through adversity and fight tooth and nail to achieve success than someone in
the same roll that is a salary employee.
All that said, be very, very careful on who you share your equity
with. You only have so much.

Need an infusion

entrepreneurs realize really quickly that they are going to need some capital
to purchase that industrial oven or laser engraver to put them on the map. Again, think outside the box first before you
go running to the bank or your grandma for a loan. I sold my baby to get us started. Okay, not really one of my children but my
most prized possession. I sold my Big
Dog K9 chopper for $10,500. My first
laser engraver cost us $11,000. Get
it??? I sold a liability (something that
cost me money) and bought an asset (something that makes me money). This move was one of the best moves I have
ever made. Sales grew by over 300% in 2

Investors and small business loans
are not the devil or the grim reaper. I
will always prefer organic growth to start, especially for those with little to
no experience, and try to live by the Crawl, Walk, Run mantra I learned in the
SEAL teams. Organic growth comes with
its own set of challenges and lacks the pace and speed that most of us want to
move at. At the end of the day when I
lay my head down on my pillow I like to get a good night sleep and not worry
about how I’m going to pay back all of these people and banks that took a
chance on me and my idea. I also try to
remind myself that building my empire is a marathon and not a sprint. If old Andy from Shawshank Redemption can
tunnel through the prison wall with a little time and pressure and wind up on a
beach in Mexico then I can use the same slow and steady persistence to grow my
business organically.

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