Aaron Edwards is the owner of Bitter Phew. A Craft Beer Bar located in Darlinghust Sydney. Beer enthusiasts from far and wide have congregated to the 1920’s New York-warehouse inspired venue, where 12 taps constantly rotate and showcase some of the finest local and international boutique beers.
It could be argued that craft beer and bars are a dime a dozen these days. It’s definitely not a bad thing, but when looking at potential business ideas, many people often get trapped in the ‘originality’ of a business, rather than how you can make an existing service/experience better than the rest. Bitter Phew shows that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but instead just make it unique and exciting for the potential customer.
Aaron is no stranger to event management and establishing venues. The man behind Doris & Beryl’s Cocktail Bar in Newtown and Creek & Cella in Leichhardt, he’s cut his teeth in the hospitality world, learning the ins and outs of what makes a great venue and ensures that people continue to come back.
With Bitter Phew in full swing and having a roaring success, Aaron has set his eyes on his latest venture “Phew”, a wine and cocktail bar which is an extension to the Bitter Phew branding. In our chat, Aaron talks about having to step backwards in order to move forward, explains that he needs to always go back to basics when commencing a new business/venture.
Bitter Phew’s success has come from a conscious organic approach where word of mouth and exclusivity has encouraged enthusiasm and loyalty amongst his visitors. Mainstream marketing does not fit with the branding and as such, the focused, grass roots approach has done the business big favours.
Aaron also talks about financial disciplines he applies to his ventures, his background in the self employment world and collaboration ideas where business to business opportunities can help mutual growth.
What did you get out of this episode? Here’s what I learnt;
1. How long can you work for free? – Preparation is key. It’s not just about the financials but also the psychological ground work needed before you dive into a business. Aaron has made a rule that when commencing a business that he does not pay himself for the first 3 months. This involves a lot of preparation but sets up expectations and increases the likelihood of success where money can be reinvested back into the business in those early months. This ensures that it is set up for the long term. The temptation to pay yourself as the dollars start rolling in will be high but preparing yourself and getting clear on your goals before you dive in will set you up for success.
2. Financially disciplined – We all need to take our financial education more seriously. For many of us growing up, we were often not taught about how to be financially smart. Aaron shares how he sets up his own accounts so that he has clarity and discipline when it comes to the management of this money. Accounts allocated to Emergencies, savings/personal goals and a everyday transactions ensures that you can stay on track and steer clear of reckless decisions.
3. Exclusivity – The nature of your business will determine the appropriate approach, however an element of exclusivity to your business or product can attract a demand and tribal loyalty that will have your customers passionately supporting you. In Aaron’s case, he rejected the mainstream marketing option and took on a word of mouth approach for those ‘in the know’. He made sure that the people who did come in had that personal touch and felt like they were part of something special.
4. Win/win collaboration – Collaboration possibilities are endless however they should never begin with profit in mind. Focus initially on covering costs rather than chasing dollars. Aaron shared his idea of cost price beers to the local barber so they can tell their customers where the beers came from and ultimately drive traffic back to the bar. Bitter Phew wins, barber shop wins (they get cheap beer and improve their customer experience) and the customer of course wins. Everyone’s a winner!