Tuesday, January 29, 2013

5 Lessons Entrepreneurs can learn from Moonshiners

5 Lessons Entrepreneurs can learn from Moonshiners

A brief history on moonshining… Our first president George Washington was a moonshiner. After serving as our president he came back to Mt Vernon and made shine. Moonshining is illegal. It’s a potent alcohol made from corn and water. It is a dangerous venture. But it’s been around since our country was founded. So there must be something about it that works…right?
According to Wikipedia… Moonshine, also known as white lightning, mountain dew, hooch or Tennessee white whiskey, is a high-proof distilled spirit, generally produced illicitly. The word is believed to derive from the term "moonrakers" used for early English smugglers and the clandestine (i.e., by the light of the moon) nature of the operations of illegal Appalachian distillers who produced and distributed whiskey.[1][2]
Now most of your know that I’m southern and damn proud of it. However,  I can neither deny or confirm that moonshining runs in my family blood line. However, I can’t help but think it must if I get so much fun making laundry detergent. Then there are all those old jugs around my grandparents’ house.Paw Paw called it “homebrew” he made. 

Anyways, I digress. Here are 5 lessons that successful moonshiners practice that every business owner should to.
Lesson #1: Start every day with a drink. (I’m joking!) Protect your shine recipe. You’re intellectual property, the secrets of your trade, your little black book of clients. Whatever it is you make sure you protect it. Keep your shit safe. Keep it sacred.
Lesson #2: Every good deed gets rewarded. In the world of moonshiners it’s very similar to old timey laws. Because it goes back to old timer days. You take care of each other. If someone does something for you, you watch for your chance to do right by them.
Lesson #3: We take care of our own. Moonshiners are the perfect example of collaboration being the ultimate currency. When someone runs into trouble and can’t fill an order it’s not unlikely to go to a fellow shiner and ask for help. Terms are set and a deal is made. The order if filled. Customers are happy.  And everyone made money.
Lesson #4: If you have too many orders to fill…it’s time for a new still! A still is a key tool for a moonshiner. It’s where the corn is fermented and turned to mash. Whenever you have demand for new product you expand. And a good shiner will already have the supplies in storage for when the need arises. This same philosophy should be applied for any business. Have a plan in the back of your mind. Whether it’s to hire a virtual assistant or bring on a partner. You should always be prepared because you want your business to grow.
Lesson #5: Listen to your radar. Moonshining is illegal. Law enforcement try to find them and arrest them. You have to have great instincts to do a business like this. The same instincts apply to your business too. We all have some sort of BS detector. A part of us that is tried as we make good and bad decisions. Listen to it! When it says NO…then don’t take that deal. Don’t work with that client. When it says YES…then go for it! Go full force ahead. Trust yourself.

It’s my hope that you take away these 5 little tips and can apply them to your own business. They are tried and true methods that have served shiners well for many generations. Perhaps even my own…


  1. By odd coincidence, I was flipping through channels a couple nights ago and decided to watch a few episodes of Moonshiners - curiosity is a powerful force. I was impressed by their drive & ingenuity, as well as their knowledge of history, at least the history of moonshining. While their activities are legally misplaced (and the one thing not recommended for any of us to attempt in business), there is something to be said for the "old way" of doing business. People want to be treated as people, not as a target market. Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours is an excellent example of effective social marketing - and these guys don't have net access (as far as I can tell). All good points, Bri. *tips the jar of George Washington brew to you*

    1. Thanks for your insight Gene. George Washington was a good brew. He made a lot of money off it I hear. :)

      I agree about the illegalness (is that a word)of the whole operation. And absolutely do not encourage that. But for me being the product of being raised by grandparents from the Depression and a Hippee mother I can't help but relate to my upbringing.

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