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Grow A Small Business Podcast

Feb 16, 2020

In this episode, I’ll have a conversation with Sam Reid, the co-founder of Willie Smith’s Cider. Willie Smith’s is a partnership between himself and Andrew Smith, a fourth-generation apple farmer in the Huon Valley. When the two met, Sam had been working at Diageo, one of the largest drinks business in the world, and was looking to do something different. While Andrew had some excess juicing apples that he was looking to do something with.

Launching in 2012 as Australia’s first organic cider, the two founders have grown the business to 25 full-time team members, and their cider sales are all around Tasmania and mainland Australia through direct trade accounts, distributors and the Dan Murphy liquor chain. Soon after starting they bought an old apple museum near their production facility and converted it into the Apple Shed where they host weddings, events, and a mid-winter festival which grew from 4,500 people to over 20,000 people over four years. Funding the business’ growth mostly by themselves, they have also had some asset and bank financing, as well as around $750,000 in matched government grants.

Sam will share some really great and actionable insights on how to grow a small business.

This Cast Covers:

  • How the idea for Willie Smith’s was hatched and brought to life.
  • The cider market gap in Australia that they exploited to win big.
  • The Willie Smith national distribution strategy and their amazing apple shed.
  • Hosting the mid-winter festival and the key growth numbers of the multifaceted business.
  • Focusing on bootstrapping and doing things effectively to ensure sustainable operations.
  • The most stressful points in their small business growth journey.
  • The areas in business he worked on the most to add the greatest value to the business.
  • The least enjoyable thing for Sam about managing fast growth.
  • The biggest mindset shift he had to make along the way of growing a small business.
  • The number one habit a small business owner needs to develop and maintain.
  • Building and leading an effective team that believes in the business’ vision.
  • How to create a sustainable and kick-ass corporate culture to help with business growth.
  • The professional development he invested in himself.
  • Leveraging on the business networks he had built from his previous corporate career.
  • The hardest thing in growing a small business and the one tool Sam would recommend to help grow a small business.

Additional Resources:

Music from "Cold Funk" by Kevin MacLeod ( License: CC BY (