Any advice for writing a microbrewery business plan
Craft brewing has exploded in recent years and many enterprising brewers are now cashing in, hence the critical need for having a good microbrewery business plan.
According to SIBA – the Society of Independent Breweries – there are nearly 800 small breweries in operation in Britain today pumping out 4,000 permanent cask ales as well as nearly 6,000 special and seasonal varieties.
If you’re tempted to join in this burgeoning industry, the first vital step is writing a microbrewery business plan.
Ideas for writing a microbrewery business plan
The first stage is research – and not just the tasting kind. Read up on as much about the industry as possible – studies, market research and so on. Look at other firm’s business plans and visit as many breweries large and small as you can.
You’d be amazed at how many microbrewery owners will be willing to help you if you only ask. There’s no substitute for experience and if you can find someone willing to offer free advice it’s worth its weight in amber nectar.
Don’t be afraid to get into the nitty gritty with your plan. One of the biggest failings of business plans we see is that they are too general and lack specifics. Outline all the potential hidden costs, worst case scenarios and financial implications of operational problems. No one ever failed because they had too much detail in their business plan.
Moving on to some of these specifics, you need to first consider how and where you will make your product. Will you lease or buy premises? What are the costs? Do you need to rent or buy equipment? What about a licence, business rates and so on?
It’s not going to be a great business plan unless you know exactly what your product is going to be. What makes it stand out from the crowd? How many different ales will you make? What volume will be able to produce realistically? What are the input costs and profit margins? Decide how the product will be delivered – only in casks, only in bottles or both.
Key to getting your microbrewery off the ground is a good distribution channel. Will you target pubs directly, larger distribution breweries, or aim for the retail market with shops? Microbrewers also need to think about the physical movement of the product. For example, it may more economical to rent a van and look to buy one further down the line once profits are coming in, rather than relying on an outsourced logistics partner from the start.
At the very least you’ll need a label for your product, but marketing doesn’t stop there. What methods and channels will you employ to market your product? You will almost certainly want to build an online presence using social media and a website. But does it stop there? What other ways are there to get your brand noticed? What are the costs of trade shows?
Have a vision
Last but by no means least, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve for your business. It’s easy to have a vision for the beer – taste, image etc – but what are your business goals? At the very least, you need to consider how will the business grow to become sustainable and produce a viable income. The microbrewery business plan needs to be a complete vision for the entire business, not just how you plan you make your beer.