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Creative Spirits in the Craft Brewing and Distilling Business

Almost everyone gets into the craft business for the love of the product. They typically come from different backgrounds and experiences. The craft brewing industry is only 30-40 years old. The craft distilling industry is just now finding its legs. The cider industry is just starting to take off. Frankly, there just aren't enough experienced people to run all these new companies. When I meet a new client, I often get the statement, "I don't know what I don't know." In these next pages, I have documented common craft life cycles. That way you can understand where you fit and what we might do together. Growth stages are not exactly linear. You may be mostly start up, but adding in some local operations challenges. Feel free to roam around each of the three life cycles to see what might interest you.


craft brewing start upWe define start up business from business concept to just after brewing is stabilized. That usually spans a 5 year time frame; three years from concept to producing product and two years of production challenges. There are a lot of ups and downs, but in the concept stage, everything is possible. You can dream the biggest dreams because you don't have to make payroll yet. Perhaps you could use a bit of  food-for-thought as you are planning out the manufactuing floor. We work with all kinds of start ups; from the expanded brew pub to the "world domination" start up.  All things are truly possible, you just need to plan for the unexpected. Read about life as a start up business.

Local Operations

Beer samplesAfter those two starup years, there should be a ready market for your product.  Instead of worying about whether you can sell the liquid in the tanks, your mind switches to the fact that you need to expand to satisify the almost endless demand.  Expansion can take two forms:  an external expansion (second location?) or an internal expansion (what about another computer system?).  The pace of change starts to increase even from the startup days. There are more people in the company now, and they start to have opinions. Who do you listen to? What makes sense? In this section, we will discuss the components of an external expansion and the components of an internal expansion. Read about life as a local operation.

Expanding Business

Production brew house​People keep asking for the beer. Distributors are romancing you, telling you that there is a ready market for your beer in their territory.  While that sounds wonderful, what does it mean for your company?  How big do you want to be?  Do you know the challenges of "getting too big for your britches?"  I usually tell my cients that with great power comes great responsibility (OK, I stole that from Spider-Man, but it holds true in this case).  Understanding where you are going and when it is time to stop growing takes time and forethought.  We have worked with several companies who knew when to stop and some who didn't.  Let's sit down and talk about the pros and cons. Read about life as an expanding business.

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