THE #GIRLBOSS ISSUE

 
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BY GRACE STEWART

We love a #girlboss and Manjit Minhas is no exception. Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, this Petroleum Engineering student turned beer baroness is a Dragon on the hit TV show Dragons' Den on CBC in its 13th season (for which she has been on for 4).  

Manjit is the co-founder and co-owner of the Minhas Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries. She started her companies at the age of 19 and later launched her first beer in Alberta in 2002 with her business partner and brother, Ravinder Minhas, making her the youngest brewery owner in the world. Together, they gave the big boys a run for their money, thereby becoming the first successful company to enter the Canadian beer industry in many decades. Currently, she has over 90 brands of beers, spirits, liqueurs and wines. Her products are sold in 5 provinces (Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia), as well as 45 states throughout the USA and 16 other countries. To date, her breweries have sold over 7 billion pints of beer making the Minhas Breweries the 9th largest brewery worldwide.

We caught up with Manjit —mom of 2, “Dragon” and all-around boss babe, to gain some insight on how she does it all


SWISH MAG: What is your best tip for an aspiring entrepreneur?

1.) Ask Yourself: Why Are You Becoming An Entrepreneur?

The answer can’t be purely financial. Of course, money is a motivator, but it can’t be the only one. There are many great reasons for getting into this business. The ones that resonate most with me are the desire to keep learning, the need to do and build things and the desire to change the world.  For me, being an entrepreneur has never been a career — it’s a calling. It is challenging 24/7, yet the feeling of achievement and success is second to none.

2.) Plan Out Every Day

If you are launching your business soon, picture how many daily tasks you will have — and then double it. Planning out your schedule decreases procrastination and increases productivity by achieving goals, being better equipped to handle unforeseen obstacles and ensuring you still have time for relaxation, recreation and real life. Routine is the antithesis of anxiety and stress. At the beginning of each week, I create an essential to-do list. Then, I use a calendar to plan every day down to the hour. Having a to-do list helps turn abstract goals into concrete work. I make sure to schedule periods for creativity, brainstorming time with my team, socializing and networking — and of course, downtime.

3.) Take A Break

The scariest word to any entrepreneur should not be “failure” but “burnout.” In fact, mental health issues have been reported among ¾ of entrepreneurs. Because entrepreneurs have higher pressures than most, it’s especially important to schedule downtime. I regularly disconnect from work by spending time with my family, doing sports and reading, which makes me even more productive when I am back. I also do things outside my comfort zone for new experiences that build up positive memories — these will keep me resilient when life gets more challenging.

 

How do you maintain your drive and vision?

Always being optimistic is as much of a key to success as having a great idea/product. Optimism is truly an asset and helps me get through the tough times that I faced in the last 19 years of being an entrepreneur. Also, I am very disciplined – nobody can be driven everyday so you do have to be disciplined to get things done and stay on course.

 

What is your favourite part of being a “Dragon”?

Investing in others dreams and passions and helping them not make the same early mistakes I did! I love the thrill of seeing a product come to life after months or years of hard work and iterations and making your first big sale are such big milestones for entrepreneurs. It’s amazing to be a part of that journey with them.

 

How often would you say you invest in a person and not necessarily the product?

All the time.

 

Being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 lifestyle. As a mom of two, how do you balance everything?

A lot of help from family and friends and trying my best not to have ‘mom guilt’. I have always believed not to regret or think too much about the birthdays and recitals I miss and vice versa not to regret the meetings and work trips I miss so I can be 100% present where I am and enjoy myself. I know that doing both is what makes me a happy and fulfilled person and in the end, makes me a better mom and CEO. I’ve learned to delegate over the last decade both at home and at the office which has lifted a lot of pressure off my shoulders so I can be most productive in both places.

 

If you could go back and say something to your younger self that would have helped when you were starting out, what would it be? 

The journey will be amazing but nothing like you planned so be flexible and enjoy every experience, success and challenge.

 

Name one thing that most people wouldn’t know about yourself?

Most people thanks to Dragons’ Den for the last 4 years, social media and Google know almost everything about me!

 

Just for fun: If you could have coffee with anyone dead or alive who would it be and why?

I would have a beer with Oprah because she has had such a remarkable life despite such adversity and challenges and is so inspirational to women.