How to Make a Brewery Business Plan (+Free Template)
November 21, 2019
Whether you’ve a seasoned entrepreneur or it’s your first step into the business world, the key to success for any brewery is creating (and following) a business plan.
A brewery business plan is your roadmap to ensure you’re targeting the right audience and market, and keeping your business operations and financials in check. It’s a living document, providing the skeleton as your brewery evolves and adapts to market conditions.
Especially if you’re planning on pitching to investors as a way to raise startup capital, a brewery business plan will always be requested. They will want to see the potential for market growth and that you’ve seriously thought about your financial models to ensure you have a steady flow of revenue.
In this article, we provide a step-by-step approach on how to write a successful business plan for entrepreneurs starting a brewery. Each required section for a good plan is outlined.
If you’ve never seen a brewery business plan before, we’ve also included links to samples at the end of this guide to provide you with inspiration.
When creating a business plan, here are the must-have sections:
1. Table Of Contents
Even for a small brewery, your business plan is going to end up being a long document after you’ve included all the sections. A table of contents makes it easier for the reader to find specific sections as they read through your plan.
2. Executive Summary
The executive summary is the most important part of your business plan. It needs to be straight to the point so aim to have it be no longer than one page. While the executive summary should appear at the beginning of your business plan, it’s actually the last section that should be written in your brewery business plan. That’s because it’s an overview of the full business plan.
The purpose is to summarize the main points of the plan, which helps save your reader time. They can then review the sections that are of most interest to them if they want to learn more. Remember to keep this section concise yet inspiring.
3. Business Overview
This section includes a list of basic information about your business. Below are common details expected to be included in the overview section, especially if you’ll be seeking bank loans or pitching to investors:
- Legal name of business
- Trade name of business (doing business as)
- Business address (or potential business address)
- Nature of business
- Structure of business
- Date business was established
- Current mailing address
- Phone number
- Banking details (branch and banker’s name)
- Brewery Website
- Social media handles
4. Business Description
This section is where your brewery concept comes to life. It’s here where you can describe your business in greater detail, such as what the concept is going to look like, where your brewery will be located, and the kind of vibe or brand you plan on creating. Your business description provides paint a clear picture of your vision and goals.
Below are the areas a business description should include:
What legal structure are you going to adopt? Will your brewery business be a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation? Who will be involved and what role will each one of them be responsible for? Will some wear multiple hats? Be concise in this section, as there are many brewery licenses and laws you need to comply with. You’ll be able to go into more detail about the team structure later on in the business plan.
Your brewery concept is the overarching idea you have in store for the business. Take the time to describe why your idea is unique and what differentiates you from other breweries. Why should beer drinkers choose your business over the other ones in the area?
Also, consider what kind of experience you want to create for your customers. Having a brewery is not just about what you serve to customers. It’s just as equally important to consider the overall customer experience, from the moment they step into your brewery to the moment they step away.
Your brewery mission statement is one sentence that sums up what your brewery will achieve. Think of your end goal as the ultimate driving force behind your business. Your mission statement should be short and high-level enough that it can be displayed on marketing materials. It needs to be straight to the point in expressing what your business is about.
Short and Long-Term Goals
This section mentions your personal and/or business goals. Your short-term goals describe your first year as a brewery owner. Long-term goals involve bigger picture thinking. They are things like how to scale your business or expand into new markets. Be descriptive in this section, but also realistic.
Menu and Services
In this section, you can Include a sample menu that helps represent your concept in greater detail. If you’re going to offer catering or any other services, also include details about those additional services in this section. Also describe anything else you’ll be selling, such as food or retail products.
Mention the neighborhoods you’re considering for your venue and why. Answer the following questions and consider the effects they will have on your business:
- Attraction: Which features of the neighborhood will affect your brewery?
- Competition: Are there other breweries or related businesses in the area?
- Demographics: What kinds of people live, work, or visit the neighborhood?
Describe your concept with as much visual detail as possible, such as colors and design elements. Communicate why these details are important and how they relate back to your brand. If you’re working with a design agency or interior designer, mention that in this section and include their visual proposals or your brewery logo mockups.
Business Description Summary
The business description section covers a lot of detail, so ending with a summary is a good idea to emphasize the most important points.
5. The Marketplace
For this section of the brewery business plan, the goal is to demonstrate that you’ve thoroughly analyzed your target market and can prove there is a demand for your business.
A good way to gather intelligence is to do a competitor analysis. Visit your competition and document their product offerings, marketing tactics, business practices, pricing, and brand positioning.
You can also ask people in your prospective neighborhood about how businesses perform in that area, and what they wish to see.
By gathering as much information as you can, your marketplace assessment will be realistic, address the needs of your target audience, and provide you with inspiration on how to differentiate yourself from competitors.
The marketplace section includes the following components:
This section provides an overview of your target audience. Consider details like demographics, psychographics, and sub-segments of your target market.
Create customer profiles that include demographic and psychographic information. What types of people will frequent your brewery and what similarities/differences do they share? Get qualitative and quantitative data, and reference external resources that provide statistics about your customer segments. Note that each customer segment within your target demographic will have unique profiles.
Include relevant statistics about past and current trends within your target marketplace. This can be anything that relates to the demand for a brewery, as well as social and economic factors that have affected similar businesses in the area. Also mention if you’ve conducted your own research or hired a vendor to conduct research on your behalf.
This section identifies who you consider to be your competition. Specify both direct and indirect competition within your target neighborhood. Your direct competitors are the breweries that offer similar customer experiences and types of beer. Indirect competitors may be different from your brewery concept but still compete for your target market’s attention and spend.
After detailing your competitor analysis, you should be able to articulate what makes your brewery stand out from the rest. What does your brewery offer to your target audience that no one else currently provides? Explain why customers should choose your business over your competitors.
Taking into account your competition and target customers, this section identifies where gaps exist between supply and demand. Describe how you will be addressing these gaps and providing a better option for customers. From the types of beer you’ll be offering to your opening hours, whatever your brewery can offer in providing a better customer experience should be highlighted in this section.
This section considers the opposite of opportunities. Here, you can highlight the advantages your competitors have over your business. What do they offer to the market that your brewery doesn’t? Provide rationale as to why your brewery faces these barriers and, most importantly, how you’ll tackle them once you’re officially open.
Similarly to the business description section, the marketplace summary highlights the most important information that is relevant to the reader.
This section provides an overview of what you plan on including in your brewery marketing strategy. Consistent customers and sales are the key to your business’ longevity, so to ensure this, you need to create a marketing strategy that will keep people coming through your doors.
Describe the tactics you plan on using to appeal to your target customers and stay top of mind. Use the differentiators you outlined in the marketplace section to guide your positioning strategy. What do you offer that your target customers can’t get from your direct or indirect competitors? Also, think about how you will communicate these offerings to your audience.
Describe your pricing strategy and how it compares to competitors, based on your competitive analysis section. Questions that will help you decide on a pricing strategy include:
- What are your production costs?
- What are your costs associated with each of your product offerings?
- What is the market price of similar product offerings? (i.e. what prices are your competitors charging)
- How does your pricing compare to the market price?
- How is your pricing competitive?
- What kind of return on investment do you expect with this pricing strategy, and within what time period?
Once you’ve determined your pricing strategy, make sure it aligns with your financials. The prices you charge have to be competitive but still allow for a reasonable profit.
Here are three common digital tactics used for online marketing promotion:
Social Media: If you plan on creating and maintaining social media accounts like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, explain how you’ll use them to promote your business and brand.
Website: Describe your website’s overall concept and how it aligns with your brand. Provide visual mockups, including main elements and design style. Also, mention if you plan to build the site in-house or pay for professional services.
Advertising: List all of your paid digital advertising channels such as review sites, banner ads, and social media ads. If you’ll be working with an agency or contractor, list them in this section and what work they will be doing for you.
It’s a good idea to have a mix of digital and traditional marketing promotions. Each tactic appeals to your target audience in a different way. Traditional methods tend to be more in-person and tactile, such as grand opening events, so people are able to experience your brand and products in a different way.
For example, will attending consumer events be a focus during the launch of your brewery, so people can taste your products? To get physical traffic through your door, you could also consider having special in-house promotions on specific days of the week.
Again, here’s your opportunity to briefly summarize your overall marketing strategy and describe the promotional channels that you think are the best for your business.
7. Business Operations
You’ve described your vision, the marketplace, and how you plan to market your business. Now it’s time to outline how you’ll actually execute your plan. This means outlining who will operate the day-to-day of your brewery.
Team and Staff
Describe the main business management categories relevant to your brewery and identify your core team members. This includes everyone from your brewery consultant to management to staff. List everyone’s qualifications, skills, and responsibilities, placing emphasis on how each role will help you reach your business goals.
List your suppliers according to type (i.e. ingredients vs. technology vs. furniture vs. brewery equipment) and include descriptions of what they provide. Also, include their credit and payment terms. Consider how these suppliers fit into your overall brand in terms of the quality they offer and sourcing practices.
Since your brewery needs insurance coverage, investigate the mandatory requirements based on the location of your business. From general liability to workers’ compensation, getting the right brewery insurance plans will ensure you’ve covered if accidents happen, and given confidence to any investor that your business won’t be in financial ruins. List each type of insurance your brewery will need, the provider of choice, and what’s covered by each plan.
Figuring out what licenses your brewery will need is similar to insurance requirements. Required licenses and permits can be everything from a business license to food handler permits to music and liquor licenses. Start your research as soon as possible by checking your local government office website. List all of the licenses and permits required for your brewery and staff in this section.
Business Operations Summary
Summarize the main points discussed in the Business Operations section. This should be fairly straight forward, as it’s more fact-based than other sections.
The financial plan is the most important section of your brewery business plan – especially if you need debt financing or are trying to pitch to investors.
Your financial plan has to demonstrate your business’ potential for growth and profitability.
To do this, you will need to document your forecast in four main parts:
- Revenue (forecasted sales)
- Controllable costs (production costs, cost of labor)
- Expenses (rent, supplies, utilities, marketing, etc.)
- Start-up costs (costs related to opening your brewery, such as capital improvements and training)
For new businesses, a good rule of thumb is to underestimate revenues and overestimate expenses.
9. Business Plan Summary
Your business plan summary ties together the main points communicated across all sections into one cohesive story.
Use this final section to ultimately highlight how your brewery is different from current options available in the market, and how it’s going to be financially sustainable.
Make sure to include the following sections:
- Why your business will be successful – In a few sentences, repeat how your brewery is different and why your business will work.
- What you need to be successful – If you’re asking for funding, repeat that ask here.
- A thank you note – Thank your audience for reading your brewery business plan and remind them that you value their time and feedback.
If you’re thinking about opening a brewery then creating a business plan needs to be at the top of your priority list. It’s a lot of work right from the start, but the amount of time and effort you put into creating a top notch business plan pays off quickly once you launch.
For inspiration on how to structure your brewery business plan, and what to include, below are a few samples that you can reference:
Here are some useful resources to reference when conducting your research:
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