Is the Business Plan Finished?

I think I’m done with it….for now. It seems no matter how many times we have reviewed it, tweaked it, had others critique it, there is always something else to add or revise. Its best to look at the business plan as a living document that evolves as you learn more how to achieve your vision. We’ve been working on ours for about two years and it has really evolved into a persuasive and sharp document that is not only our blue print for the future but also illustrates our ideas and attractiveness to others whom we want to invest.

Our journey in the world of business plans began with a close reading, and several subsequent re-readings of Ray Daniels, Starting Your Own Brewery which consists of several essays on key aspects of brewery planning from flooring systems to financing strategies to a full length business plan for a brew pub in Colorado (I still don’t know which one). We also read Sam Calagione’s story of how Dogfish Head started and Brooklyn Brewery’s book about their origins and adventures. Both companies, today seen as the leaders in craft beer took completely different paths to reach their goals. Dogfish Head started as a brew pub and then launched their production facility. Brooklyn was first a production brewery and then became a distributor/production brewery and then returned to production.

We examined these stories and weighed the different models for how we wanted to build our brewery. We decided to stick with what we knew best and that was making beer and we would consider a pub option later as we developed our business. With this decision we sat down and wrote the plan and have been writing it ever since.

The Plan is important for you as the company organizer. The Plan is the guide for the future. It describes who you are, what your focus is in this market, what your product is, how you will make it, when you will make it, how you will market it, how much it will all cost, and how much you need to make  to keep the business going.

The plan is important for your potential investors. They need a clear picture of the vision, the logistics, and the potential performance. Many investors are interested in one section of the plan, the proformas, most notably the income statement. All of the other pages are fluff to them. We prefer investors who are interested the idea of lake effect. We are a brewery that gets most of its ingredients from this area, and specializes in seasonal beers- the essence of local craft. That said we will consider both the former and the latter investor type.

In our plan we have recently overhauled our phasing strategy and are happy to report that we are on schedule. That said, as I check off the item today- “Business Plan Finished” I know I’ll be back in this document again real soon. We will see things differently in the future, conditions will change, a potential opportunity may arise, who knows- expect the unexpected and always understand that the plan is never finished.

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