Yesterday I posited 12 questions per your beer business, the 12 Point Beer Business Inspection. If you answered them with clarity and completeness, you should be in business. If you cannot, you need to take time right now to clarify them – they point to your goals and purpose of being in the community.
1. Why are you in the beer business? Do you know this answer? If you do, keep asking yourself as time marches on. If you don’t, it’s overdue. Is it to make a living? Is it to educate? Is it to share your passion? If you’re in business of any sort (for profit or not-for-profit are both business structures), it needs to include revenue generation as well as outreach. Not making any money for your living expenses makes you a burden on others. And it’s doubtful that’s what too many people want at all.
Do you know where your beer business is headed?
2. Who do you make your beer for? (get ready for Broken Record Pattern = BRP) You must know who this is. If it’s for your friends and neighborhoods, move to the densest neighborhood you can find. Make sure you treat them with kid gloves. More realistically you need to develop a vision in your plan of who you are making your beer for – or selling it to – in order to make a living.
3. Why do you make or sell your beer? Is it simply a passion you want to manifest? Is it a hobby you can afford to undertake? You must always ask yourself “The Why”. Without it “The What” is not very useful. I.e. – who cares what you make if you don’t know why you make it.
4. Who have you specifically identified as your target market? BRP Know this in order to avoid the burden syndrome (on yourself and own finances and mental health as well as those around you). The first few immediate circles of friends and contacts will only take you so far. And most likely you need many, many others to take you where you think and plan you want to go.
5. How far out does your target market range? Do you want to be a neighborhood or local joint or a state or province wide brand? Any sites set on national or global targets or goals? BRP
6. What do you do to thank existing customers? How do your customers and patrons know you appreciate them? How do you acknowledge them and express this regularly, in person? This is really important. The Internet has both exploded our access to everyone (literally) and also lead some to believe civility and in person interactions are less critical. They’re not. They are more critical than ever.
7. What do you do to attract new customer share? Every business can always use new customers. Never rest on the laurels that you’re set or you’ve got everyone in the door you need. This attitude – of always being aware you need more – should be pervasive. Starting with staff first – ALWAYS be open to that person who contacts your company curious about opportunity. Smart businesses will adopt the mantra “we’re always looking for good people.”
8. Who is dedicated to marketing your products? Marketing is bringing your product to market. And you’d have no business chance or sense if you negated or ignored or other wise chose to be ignorant of this fact. Marketing is both an essential part of a beer business and one the customers want – they want to know who you are and what you’re about. Telling your story is a HUGE part of building your brands and business.
9. What education events do you offer your market? Education makes the world improve. Be part of that progress by making sure to 1. Educate your staff often and effectively and to 2. Educate your consumers. Education, education, education. In the beer business, it’s more important than location.
10. How often do you ask your customers for input and their opinions of your products and services? I’ll just tell you the answer here: Daily. You need to talk with customers every day you’re open for business. Talk, engage, learn, listen, keep asking them for their thoughts. Talking with customers is like gathering seashells. You collect a bunch in the excitement of the adventure, then you sort later. Do the same here.
11. What’s your plan to sustain and grow market share? The initial buzz and honeymoon of a new brand should be thought out. Be patient and only launch when you’re ready, based on your business plan. Then know that continuing evaluation and adjustment is part of the landscape you’ve chosen to live in.
12. What’s your exit strategy? If you had a plan to start, you should have an idea of your plan to end.