Tito Beveridge, Founder and CEO of Tito's Handmade Vodka: Making a List Can Change Your Career
Tito Beveridge, the namesake, founder, and CEO of Tito's Handmade Vodka, said he was unsuccessful at all his previously attempted business endeavors. But Beveridge used those early failures to energize himself and launch a company that combined his talents and passions.
The Austin-based entrepreneur recently shared his business advice with students of The University of Texas at Austin as part of the Tex Talks speaker series held by the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship.
Take Energy From Failure
After graduating from UT with degrees in geology and geophysics in 1984, Beveridge was fired from his first job in the oil business. He started his own oil company and drilling company, but went broke from both attempts. Eventually he moved to selling mortgages and doing environmental work, until he realized he didn't like it.
He acknowledged that failure can be very challenging. "The thing about failure is that you'll work on something for years and it will fail in a day," Beveridge said.
Beveridge thinks about failure in terms of energy. Harkening back to his geophysics days, he said he knows energy isn't destroyed but simply changes forms. He uses that knowledge to his advantage when he doesn't succeed.
"Your first instinct is to blame everyone else," said Beveridge. "But don't blame it on anyone, wrap your arms around [the failure] and take the blame, so all the energy becomes yours. You can't destroy energy, you can, however, change the phase."
Make a List
Beveridge started distilling as Tito's in 1997 after the initial idea came to him several years earlier. One night after a few drinks with friends, he came home and made a list, based on the way Beveridge heard Benjamin Franklin made decisions. Beveridge grabbed a piece of paper, drew a line down the middle, and on one side wrote down the things he liked and on the other wrote down what he was good at.
"What I loved to do was party," Beveridge said. "I was good at science, engineering, project management, and sales."
He looked back at the list, thought of his own name, and the fact he was renowned among his friends for making flavored spirits as Christmas gifts.
But Tito's Handmade Vodka wasn't born overnight. It took Beveridge two years to secure a permit to distill alcohol. Beveridge operated the first legal distillery in Texas and, while he didn't know it at the time, the only craft spirits distillery in the country. He fought his way through his beginning years, having a distributor back out the day before the company's launch, and making sales liquor store by liquor store.
Hire Positive People
Tito's Handmade Vodka is now sold in over 100 countries. Beveridge hopes to grow Tito's even further but what's most important to him, he said, is enjoying himself.
"I don't care if I'm wealthy," Beveridge said. "I'd rather be happy and sleep on someone's couch."
That's the attitude Beveridge looked for as he began adding employees. He hired people he enjoyed being around.
"If you ever get the chance to hire people, it's not worth it to work with a bunch of jerks," Beveridge said. "Employees are better than your family because you get to pick them. You can teach them to do anything, but you can't teach attitude or disposition."
He said the most important thing to do is to have fun.
"Do something you love to do every day of your life," he said. "You'll look back and be so proud."