My Library and Courses
Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Do What It Takes

Bill Sugars said that most people just don't realize what owners do to make things work. Obey the law, treat people with respect and as Bill admits, clean the toilets if they need it. More...

Key Question:


These owners confess that they still end up doing some of the most unpleasant jobs even after years of being at the top of the organization chart.

Q: Why would the owner be cleaning toilets?

A: Because it needs to be done. Sure he has someone assigned to the task but if that person doesn't show up or if Bill goes into the restroom and feels it needs cleaning right then, he just does it.

Q: What do Bill and Pat do every single day?

A: They show up. They rarely show up at the same time but most all of the time an owner is present at Mickey Finn's. They believe they get the best work out of their employees if they are physically present and they believe that customers love to see and talk to the owners.

Q: How do owners sustain enthusiasm?

A: We see our work as our play. At 90 years of age, Ebby Halliday is still coming in to work everyday because there is nothing else she would rather do.

Think about it this way. When kids are sitting in a classroom studying a subject they don't like, time seems to stand still. When the bell rings to dismiss the class, the kids shoot for the door with an incredible force of energy that has been building up during the course of the 50-minute class. On the playground, the same kid that was nearly asleep in class, is running to dodge a ball or put one over home plate.

Unlike kids, adults get confused between work and play. We're not psychologists, but we know what we see and how we feel. Kids are honest; they don't fake it. The saddest thing in the workforce is a person who actually thinks work is work. The right attitude is to see your work as play. Child psychologists say that play is the work of children. So, why can't work be the play of adults? At Small Business School we say that a job is something you are doing when you would rather be doing something else. Fortunately, most small business owners don't have a job, they have work that seems as if it is play. To get to this place they have made the right choices for themselves. People who don't understand this concept actually think small business owners have it easy because it seems as if we can do what we want when they want to do it. However, we arrived at our position through putting forth years and years of effort. And all along the way, we actually thought what looked like to others to be work was play.

Think about it

Do you see your work as your play? Does this frustrate your family since it probably means you spend long hours working?

Clip from: Mickey Finn

It is hard to imagine at one time this downtown was bleak.

Libertyville, Illinois: Discover how two men changed the face and the fortunes of a town. Pat Elmquest and Bill Sugars invested in their local community when no one else would. They dared to dream an impossible dream. The old downtown was virtually abandoned -- over 60% vacancy -- with pawn shops and the like.  Pat had bought a little pub; then with a $2 million loan, they expanded to make a brewery and restaurant... and the old downtown transformation was underway.

They were true pioneers ...the visionaries.  Today, Libertyville is an award-winning historic business district.

Go to all the Key Ideas and Video...
Go to a homepage for this episode...

Mickey Finn's Brewery

Brian Grano, Today's Owner & CEO

Founders: Pat Elmquest & Bill Sugars
412 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Libertyville, IL 60048

Visit our web site:

Office: 8473626688

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1990

Do What It Takes

PAT: (Voiceover) Our license allows us to sell beer to go, so customers who enjoy the beer they drink with dinner can take a little bit home--a little bit of Mickey Finn's home with them after the evening. For us, it's a way to advertise our name and our product out in the community at a very low cost.

BILL: People have a real misconception of the cash flow necessary to run a business, whether it be a restaurant, a furniture store, a coffee shop, ice cream parlor--the labor, the taxes, the upkeep, the maintenance. Our repair and maintenance on this place--we're open seven days a week, about 355 days a year--is probably 30 percent higher than I could have estimated because of the wear and tear. I mean, we get--on a busy week, we'll have 8,000 to 10,000 people come through here. And, you know, they all walk on the floors, they all plop down in the chairs.

HATTIE: They all flush the toilets.

BILL: Flush the toilets.

HATTIE: Lots of beer.

BILL: And I am chief of the plungers.

HATTIE: You're chief of the plungers?

BILL: Yeah. That's my job.

HATTIE: You do toilets?

BILL: I do toilets. I don't do windows, but I do toilets. But they don't understand the hands-on. And one thing that works very well with Pat and I in this partnership is that we're both here all the time.

HATTIE: You mean somebody's here all the time.

BILL: Right. Right. Well, yeah, right. We're not both here all the time.

HATTIE: Somebody--an owner is here all the time.

BILL: I'd say 80 percent of the time. The only time we'll try and duck out is during slow periods, or maybe we'll sneak a weekend and get away.

HATTIE: So how do you do that?

BILL: Well, one week I work nights, the next week I work days. And then Pat works the opposite of me.

HATTIE: OK. So that's--way you both have a feel for how the business is going in those time frames.

BILL: And we have a very good management staff, and they're very capable and we entrust them with the day-to-day operations. But what makes this business unique, in this business--brew-pub business or restaurant business--is owners. Customers like to see your owners. Your staff likes to see the owners; that we're not afraid to bus tables, take out trash, plunge toilets, get behind the grill if we have to. I mean, that really is critical in this particular business. And one thing that we've done is we've been requested by several communities to--`Why don't you come down and build another Mickey Finn's?' You can't be two places at once. And our goal in doing this--and people don't believe me--isn't tied into money. It really isn't, OK? There's two basic reasons Pat and I did this. First of all, we really believe in this community, and it's really satisfying to give something to a community, to see the community respond back. That's really neat.

Not a member yet? Learn!  Be empowered! Join us!