3 years ago on New Year’s Eve, Cassie Preston made a resolution to open a business. She started planning with her husband Ashton right away in January of 2015. Less than 1 year later, in September 2015, the two Air Force Veterans opened Steady Flow Growler House & Tasting Room in Spokane Valley. Today, with 43 taps for tasting or take-home, Steady Flow proudly rotates craft beverages from the Spokane Region, Inland Northwest, and all over the USA.
So how did the duo get from a New Year’s resolution to doors opening on a brick and mortar shop in only 9 months? A little bit of help, a lot of drive, and a love of craft brews. First, Cassie started researching: what are the resources out there for Veterans? That’s how she learned about Business Impact NW, and its Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) program. Through VBOC, Cassie and Ashton were able to get free business counseling, coaching and advice. They met with Program Director Domonique Juleon to go over their business plans, and even became finalists in a Pitch competition that Juleon encouraged them to participate in. After receiving an SBA-backed small business loan, the pair were ready to go.
“It’s the most stressful experience of my life,” says Cassie, though the lessons learned from being a Military Vet—work ethic, being able to work under any condition, training employees—is a huge advantage. “We have a competitive edge; we use digital menus, and we only sell drinks on tap so that there’s a huge selection for every taste…it’s exciting having my own business, being able to make decisions and have customers say they’re good decisions.” During their third quarter alone, they grew 25% in profits.
So what’s next? Steady Flow recently added a small kitchen so they could offer seasonal small & large plates that can pair with your drink. The next big idea is possibly a second location, or even franchising. Even though the pair have cut back on hours since their first year of opening to spend more time with their two children, they are the first to admit that opening their own business was worth the stress. “There’s a huge sense of accomplishment – you learn a lot about your true potential. At first it’s daunting and overwhelming, but it’s achievable.”