Doers And Dreamers: Why You Need Both In Your Business

Leah Wong Ashburn, President/CEO and family owner of Highland Brewing Company, Asheville's first post-prohibition brewery, discusses the thought needed for succession planning, her advice to entrepreneurs, and what it's like to start and grow a business in Asheville, North Carolina.

The culture is amazing, the spirit is just so alive in Asheville. It treasures independence and makers and hands-on, handcrafted anything.

Highland Brewing is Asheville's first legal brewery after prohibition. We kind of kicked off a whole new industry a whole new culture in Asheville without really meaning to, but my father is known as the godfather of craft beer in town. There were many decision points kind of along the way for me to join the brewery because when you join a family business, it has to be right for all the family members, for the business itself, for the market, and it's a really big transition to make that takes a lot of time and thought and different pieces to fall in — the company itself, the staff needs to be kind of ready and open to that big leadership change.

I would advise entrepreneurs to find folks to work with them that really not only believe in their vision, but complement their skills. What I've found is that a lot of times the starter is not the same as the doer. The one with the great idea, that entrepreneurial set, is different from the one who's going to be the doer every day and wants to perfect whatever that craft is. I think complementing skills is super important. Finding people around you that really want you to win and want your idea to win Asheville is wonderful. I am so glad that we chose, my father really chose, to be in Asheville. There's so much value placed in makers in Asheville, so we're part of that community and are here to support it and have joined with people here to celebrate it. The beer can be kind of part of all of those celebrations or really with you.

I'm Leah Wong Ashburn, family owner and president of Highland Brewing Company here in Asheville, North Carolina. Please come out to the brewery and have a beer with us.

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