Paul Brown is the owner of Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury Center, Vermont. The mill was started in 1974 — it ran successfully for 26 years — and then Paul purchased the business in 2000. Cold Hollow is a top producer of fresh apple cider in New England and one of Vermont’s most popular tourist attractions. That’s because Cold Hollow is committed to doing it the old-fashioned way, making pure cider with a traditional rack and cloth press built in the 1920s. Cold Hollow is also the home of the legendary “Cider Donut”, which Gourmet Magazine called one of the country’s four best donuts. During the last 15 years, Cold Hollow has expanded to include a jelly room, large production facility, two cold-storage rooms, and a large bottling facility.
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Secret – timesaving technique
Paul checks on Monday morning who called in sick, who got hurt, and what broke — focus on the realities of your business and try to negate the problem areas. ONWARD!
Daily habit that contributes to success
Don’t leave anything on your desk to take care of tomorrow — Paul cleans his desk off every single day before leaving.
Could have ruined your business – but now – an invaluable learning experience
Paul tried to grow too big in one year — and Paul tells the whole story here.
Most critical skill you think business owners need to master to be successful
“You really need to know your customer.”
Most influential lesson learned from a mentor
“Never ask a staff member to do something you aren’t willing to do yourself — lead by example.”
Final Round – “Breaking Down the Recipe for Success”
What systems would you go back and put into place sooner?
I wish I hadn’t tried to do too much — focus on one area and get it right before working on something else.
What one strategy or “recipe” would compound into big wins for business owners?
Get clear on your vision — and make sure everyone is laser-focused on that vision.
How to exceed expectations and add the most value?
An individual would be organized — they need to put together a gameplan for the day, week, month, year.
What strategy would you recommend new business owners focus on to best ensure success?
- You’re going to struggle for at least five years — you need to know that
- There are challenges every day — the fun comes from fixing the day’s problems
- Celebrate the small victories — and celebrate with your team/staff
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