Small breweries and brewpubs seem to be sprouting up on every corner and the market is getting more and more crowded. With this level of competition, the profit is certainly not just there for the taking. The additional challenge is the fact that craft brewing is a capital-intensive endeavour. So, if you really mean business, there is a lot of ground to cover before opening your doors. You have to get to know the market, industry standards, customers, and other nitty-gritty aspects. What is more, you cannot afford to make mistakes when writing a business plan, raising money, and purchasing equipment.
Grasp the big picture
Big ideas are not worth the paper they are written on unless they are rooted in facts and figures. Therefore, do your market research to validate your vision. Run the available numbers and use acquired insights to put together a solid business plan. Keep an open mind and do not act on a whim. You have to offer something valuable to consumers, a product that differs from what your direct competitors have. You might also have to alter your initial plans, come up with niche products, and find less saturated local markets.
One of the crucial elements of your business plan is the financial segment. In other words, you need to evaluate startup and ongoing costs. They vary wildly depending on the size of operation, type of brewery and number of barrels. Do not overlook a single thing, be it equipment, supplies, utilities, permits, licensing, furniture, payroll, etc. Bear in mind that unexpected costs can always emerge, so prepare more money than you think you require. Finally, make mid- and long-term financial projections.
Dealing with the specifics
Next, familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the industry, regulations, and prominent trends. Did you know, for instance, that you must obtain special licenses and ensure water and liquid disinfection? Yes, keeping up with the pace of the latest technologies that shape the industry is paramount. You should check out current commercial UV water treatment systems tailored to the production process in breweries. They keep biological contamination at bay and allow you to offer a completely safe product.
Know what you are getting yourself into
As you can already see, there is a lot more to running a brewery than just serving and drinking beer. To set the wheels in motion, business owners have to display strong managerial, sales, record-keeping, marketing, and soft skills. It is also common to work weekends and nights as well, although you can hire and delegate some of the key tasks. Alas, having a full crew right away could be a strain on the budget. This is to say that it is important to know your abilities and limits before diving in.
Once that is out of the way, it is time to raise capital to cover all the expenses. To maximize your chances of success, explore different avenues before committing to any source of funding. Weigh the pros and cons of SBA loans, local bank loans, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, and other alternatives. Note that in the craft brewing industry, it is also possible to join brewery incubators, open co-op establishments, and launch community-supported brewing. A good credit score, collateral, and experience can help you secure better deals.
Getting products in front of people
Finally, devise a market strategy. In countries like the US, a three-tiered system for alcohol distribution is in place. Apart from you, the producer, it consists of distributors and retailers. Usually, the chain goes like this: you sell your goods to wholesale distributors and then they sell it to retailers that bring the product to the end user. So, it is essential to partner up with the right (major or smaller) distributors. To make it happen, carefully gauge the present and future needs of your brand, as well as offered pricing models and marketing plans.
On top of the game
The craft beer sector is growing fast and gaining traction across the globe. The only problem is that starting a brewery from the ground up is a daunting task with many moving parts. Thus, do not expect all fun and drinking games. Know who you are— have a clear vision of what you can offer. Get educated and carry out market research. Work out a realistic business plan and line up resources. Keep your options open when it comes to financing and figure out how to get your beer on the market. Be a brand that stands out, a go-to source of quality, refreshing beverages.