Starting a successful brewery is a big dream for many. To achieve this dream, you need to start with a solid brewery business plan.
Your business plan includes everything you need to organize before opening your business, from your business goals and operations to your brewery name, beer menu, and everything in-between. Getting this plan right is one of the most important steps toward your business's success.
In this guide, we’ll outline everything craft breweries should include in their business plan template.
What is a Business Plan?
A business plan is a document that lays out your entire strategy for starting a brewery. This includes business objectives, operations, and how your brewery will be profitable and viable. A business plan is a roadmap you follow when setting up your new venture.
Your business plan must include details of how you will set up your brewery and what you aim to achieve. Doing this helps you prepare for the new challenge and know what to expect throughout the entrepreneurship journey.
Why Do You Need a Brewery Business Plan?
Your business plan ensures you open up your brewery as smoothly and efficiently as possible. It helps you avoid surprises along the way, getting your establishment off the ground by following all the proper steps. A well-thought-out plan will boost the chances of your brewery’s success in a big way.
A brewery business plan is also necessary if you need to secure funding. Nobody will put money behind a new venture without a clear plan on how it will operate and what kind of revenue and profits are projected.
What to Include in Your Brewery Business Plan
There’s a lot to consider when you write a brewery business plan. To help you out, here are some of the essential features to include in this document:
Business Description Section
Start with an executive summary of your business. This should be a description with the basic outline of what your brewery business will look like, what it will do, and why it exists. The executive summary should include details like your brewery name, its purpose for being, and why you want to start it.
Also include the type of brewery you plan to start and the proposed size. Do you imagine a lively beer hall, a country brewery, a trendy gastropub? A clear concept and vision to work toward are essential. You should also include goals that you want to achieve.
The craft brewery industry is highly competitive, so it’s vital that your brewery stands out. Make sure to include your mission statement, what will make your brewery unique, and why this is important.
Business Operations Section
A vital part of the planning process is outlining exactly how your business will operate. When creating a plan for your craft brewery, try to detail exactly how the establishment will work - from sourcing ingredients to selling beer to customers.
Will you have a restaurant in your brewery? Will you sell beer to liquor stores, or will it only be available to consume on-site? If you do sell beer off premises, will you have sales reps? How far around the country do you plan to stock your beer? These are all important things to consider in your business model.
When you write a brewery business plan, include every detail of your operations. Think about transporting your beer, whether your brews will change over seasons, whether you will bottle or can your brews, and so on.
Management and Team Overview
A key part of your brewery business plan is outlining the people behind your business. You will need to have a plan for staffing and management requirements. Who will be in charge of which jobs? Having a clear management and staffing team structure will help you understand your brewery operations realistically.
You will certainly need a head brewer and a general manager. Depending on your business model, you might also need a chef/kitchen manager, a sales manager, and various support staff roles, such as assistant brewers, cooks, bartenders, and wait staff.
As a brewery owner, outline why you are the right fit for the job. Outline your brewery-related qualifications, experience, and interests. Repeat this for any other management positions that you have secured.
If your brewery is going to be a success, it will need a great product. Carefully planned menus are vital parts of all breweries' business plans. Ideally, you should have already perfected your recipes and have some sample products and home brews available if you need to convince investors.
As a brewery, start with your beverage menu. Outline precisely what brews you will produce.
Will you have a flagship beer that your brewery is known for? Will you offer seasonal or limited-edition beers?
Make sure that the style of beers you brew makes sense to your location and target market. Having tried-and-tested recipes for your beers is essential. You will also need to know exactly what equipment you require for brewing all of your beers.
Then you will probably also need a food or snack menu. Some breweries are known for their food, while others serve light snacks to compliment their beers. Figure out a sample menu for your brewery and match it to your brewery concept. Will you do beer pairings? Will your brewery have a theme (like German or all-American BBQ)?
Again, testing this out and getting feedback on it is crucial. You will also need to make sure you understand the exact kitchen and equipment requirements for your menu.
You might be an amazing brewer with a killer business idea, but choosing the wrong location could be the downfall of your brewery. Location plays a massive role in the success of any brewery so try to be as specific about your location as possible in your microbrewery business plan. Take the time to carefully research different location options.
Ideally, you should open your brewery in an area with minimal competition and high demand. When choosing your business address, look for features like foot traffic, visibility, parking, and a great view. Some breweries are opened as “destination” breweries and could be in a remote or unique area that people want to travel to. Others do well in busy areas full of hungry and thirsty customers, like tourist destinations or shopping malls.
Of course, your brewery space will also need to be large enough to brew beer and seat customers or do tastings. However, some breweries have separate premises for brewing and serving the public.
No business plan summary is complete without in-depth local market research. You need to understand your market and target customers. Use this to provide evidence of why your brewery idea will be viable. This should include an analysis of market trends, competitors, and customer segments.
Do some detailed competitive analysis of the area you plan to open your brewery. Understand who your main competitors will be and how your business will be different from them.
You will also need to understand the demand for a brewery. Asking locals and even sending out questionnaires can help here. You could also try to do a market or a “pop-up” brewery event in the area, partnering with another local business. This will help you understand demand and how people react to your craft beers.
Another central bit of market research is to create a detailed target customer persona. This should include your ideal clients' demographics, interests, income, age, and other relevant details.
Your competitive analysis section should also cover the general market price of craft beer and food in your area. When you conduct research, try to visit as many direct competitors as possible to understand how they operate, what they do well, and what you can do better.
A thorough market analysis will give you a good idea of the scale your brewery should operate at, who your potential customers are, and what new markets you could tap into.
Business Structure and Licenses
Outlining how your business will be structured is an integral part of any business plan. This needs to include who the business owners will be.
Some business structures include a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability company (LLC), and a corporation (C Corp). Choose the structure of your business based on how many people will be involved, how big the company will be, and how it will operate. The proper legal structure can have some significant personal and tax benefits.
When starting a brewery, include a plan for all of the licenses and legalities involved in the business. You will need permits for trading, selling food, and for brewing and selling beer. The specific requirements will differ between states. Contact your local government as early as you can to understand the specific legal requirements for your brewery.
Make sure to include the application process for these licenses in your timeline. You will also need to ensure these licenses, including a brewery license, are possible based on your business location.
Equipment and Setup
There’s a lot that goes into a brewery. Part of your brewery business plan is figuring out all the necessary equipment. This should be related to your menu, your brewery size, location, and how you plan to operate.
When planning your brewing equipment, consider the volume of beer you need to brew and have a clear plan for how you will be able to sell this. Your brewing capacity needs to be just right in terms of your business demand. If your capacity is too large, it will result in wastage. If it is too small, your brewing process won’t be able to hit demand, and you will miss out on revenue.
Beyond your brewing equipment, you might need kitchen equipment, a bar, tables and chairs, booths, glasses, a POS system, a coffee machine… the list goes on. Try to list every piece of equipment required for starting your business - from your mash tun right down to your coasters. All of these items need to be planned and accounted for. Getting this accurate is necessary for understanding what our realistic startup costs will be.
This might be quite a stressful part of our business plan, but it’s one of the most important things for all startups and small businesses to get right. Your brewery business plan must include accurate startup costs, predicted income statements, and financial projections. Quite simply, you will need to establish:
- How much capital is required to get the brewery started
- How much it will cost to operate the brewery
- How much revenue you can realistically expect to make each month (and year) after starting the business
- How much profit you will be able to generate
It seems simple enough, but a lot goes into this. You will need a clear profit and loss statement, realistic cash flow statements, and a pricing strategy that will work.
You also need to consider your cash reserves (you might not make a profit for a few months) and your stock and inventory. There is also packaging, software tools (accounting software, POS software, restaurant management software, etc.), payroll, and production costs. Let’s not forget to consider loan repayments, insurance, and other ongoing expenses.
If you pitch to potential investors or want to secure bank loans, you will need your financial plan to be absolutely watertight. This is what determines how viable your business idea is.
How will you attract customers once your business is open? You will need a clear marketing strategy. This could include a strong web presence, social media marketing, special promotions, eye-catching signage, a well-placed chalkboard, collaborations with other businesses, and more.
When establishing your marketing plan, keep your target customers in mind. The channels and strategies that your marketing plan includes will need to align with their interests.
Following these steps to draw up your business plan template should cover all the necessary details. Just remember that your brewery business plan is a working document. Dedicate enough time to creating your plan, and constantly update and improve it as you learn more about the market and industry.
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