It’s no secret that the alcohol industry is a male-dominated environment. Still, Bronya Shillo, Founder of Fishers Island Lemonade and pioneer of the ready-to-drink category, has managed to break through that environment with the relationships she built with vendors and distributors while working at her family bar.
Bronya was in charge of bartending and batching The Pequot Inn’s beloved signature house cocktail when she had her a-ha moment and realized that she could package the cocktail and share it with the rest of the country. She launched Fishers Island Lemonade as a craft cocktail-in-a-can on Memorial Day 2014. It’s a signature concoction of lemonade with premium vodka and whiskey and is one of the only dual-spirits-based ready-to-drink options on the market.
Fishers Island Lemonade feels strongly about giving back to the community. They are currently working with 1% For The Planet, a philanthropic organization that gives back to the environment.
Growing Bronya’s business wasn’t without challenges. Being an eager entrepreneur and wanting to get her product to market as quickly as possible, she had to learn the skill of patience and resilience. After receiving valuable advice from seasoned veterans in the industry, they advised her to wait on her product a few months to hit the market, and that was hard for Bronya to accept. But as time proved, it was the best decision she could have made for the business. Today, Fishers Island Lemonade is a top-selling craft canned cocktail in New England, and is rapidly expanding throughout the U.S.
Sometimes being a business owner involves complex decisions and disappointments, but ultimately you have to follow your instinct and do what is best for the business.
Bronya leaves these tips to help other entrepreneurs when setting up their business:
Don’t spend money you don’t have
The startup stage of a business is often the most expensive time. There are demands on cash coming in every direction, but you need to be careful not to run out of cash. Carefully manage the cash and bootstrap your business to avoid business failure in the first couple of years.
Sharpen your negotiation skills
Negotiation skills will serve you well in business. Everyone is looking out for themselves, but if you manage to create win-win scenarios for both you and the person you need something from, it not only helps your business, but it helps those business relationships as well.
Maintain good business relationships
Positive business relationships are essential in your network, and when you prove to be someone whom people enjoy working with, they’ll be there for you when you need something. Don’t forget that reciprocity is key, that you can’t take from people and never give back.
Someone will shoot holes in your plans
No matter how well you plan things out and anticipate what can go wrong, there will always be unexpected surprises, and not all of them will be good. This is where it is vital to show resiliency and adjust your plans accordingly. It’s all part of business, and a good entrepreneur knows how to navigate through the problems that arise.
Best of all, have fun!!
This is important because if it’s not fun, then why are you doing this?
The bottom line is that building a business is hard work but not impossible. As an entrepreneur, your best skill is resiliency. It is essential to have fun while building your business; otherwise, it will feel like a job.