Many of the discussions we have at the Brewers Association (BA) revolve around resources and ideas that are specific to the beer industry. We focus on technical brewing, acquiring the right ingredients, building a brand, marketing beers, passing OSHA inspections, and complying with the TTB, among other things. Yet, there is a foundation to breweries, brewpubs, and taprooms alike, that is the common thread of all businesses. That foundation is a well-constructed business plan.
Learn How to Create and Maintain Your Business Plan
I’m often asked what business planning resources the BA provides, and I point members to our production statistics, benchmarking surveys, insight & analysis articles, and a myriad of Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) presentations covering specific business-related topics. Additionally, Brewers Publications offers The Brewers Association’s Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery, which includes guidelines for business planning and a sample business plan. Despite all this information, though, I still hear questions about the root of the business plan – where to start and how to create one. So, I’ve compiled a handful of resources to help breweries create and maintain a business plan.
We all have preferences on how we digest educational materials. So, the information below comes in multiple formats from a variety of sources. These resources are helpful whether you are looking to create your first business plan or simply want to update your current one. A business plan is a living document that should be updated regularly, rather than a ‘one and done’ springboard for prospective businesses. This is by no means a comprehensive list of resources on this topic, as there are hundreds of them available. Rather, it’s a jumping off point for members who want to establish and expand their knowledge. These resources can help us establish and refresh business plans, in addition to highlighting components we wish to explore further.
Business Plan Resources:
- Let’s start with two presentations from our CBC seminar archives:
- Writing Your Brewery Business Plan is a step-by-step review of the necessary elements within a business plan and why those things are important.
- Successfully Planning, Starting and Operating a Nano Brewery offers a broad overview of the planning process with highlights on fundamental considerations for both launching and growing a brewery.
- The Nuts & Bolts of Great Business Plans – An often cited (and very comprehensive) guide to the broader and finer points of creating your business plan. This 30-page PDF document is updated yearly and provides excellent details on the what and why of each section in the outline.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a great general resource for businesses. They offer a step-by-step tool that explains each section of the business plan template, along with a place to input your specific business information along the way.
- SCORE, a nonprofit resource partner with the SBA, has a variety of resources geared toward creating business plans and starting small businesses. This includes a 60-minute webinar on One Page Business Plans, an on-demand Developing a Business Plan course, articles about business plan creation, and even mentorship opportunities.
- For those who prefer educational videos, BizPlanTemplate.com offers a free business plan template paired with a 10-minute tutorial explaining each section.
- If learning on the go is of interest, scribendi.com offers a very succinct podcast outlining How to Write a Business Plan. For those starting from scratch, this is a good primer for the deeper dive into more detailed templates.
Don’t Forget to Use Your Community
As a final note, I’d be remiss not to mention the Brewers Association Forum. This is an excellent place to ask questions and engage with fellow brewery owners as you create and revise your business plans. While each brewery (and therefore business plan) will be unique, there is much to be learned from those around us. I am constantly reminded of the community mindset amongst many breweries, and this a fantastic way to connect and share resources with one another.