Canada: The Ins And Outs Of An Effective Brewery Business Plan

Last Updated: October 30 2014
Article by Caroline Copeman

Whether you're an established brewery looking to expand, you've already made your first few sales or you're simply interested in getting into the brewery industry, one thing is certain: you likely won't get very far without a solid business plan in place. A business plan essentially functions as a road map, guiding you through every stage of growth in an organized, structured way so you can reach your short- and long-term goals.

Not only will a business plan provide you with an overall direction for your brewery, it's also a useful tool to have when you're approaching potential investors, lending institutions and government grant agencies. The same goes for prospective vendors, suppliers, partners, employees and marketing agencies. Ultimately, an effective business plan should serve as the foundation of every business decision you make. Below are some key points that should be a part of your brewery business strategy.

Establish Business Goals

The very first component of any business plan is to establish your goals. For a brewery, you may want to look at profitability, growth, product development, services, distribution and community support, to name just a few areas. These goals should encompass the short, medium and long term. Most importantly, they must also be quantifiable – assign responsibilities, track progress and reward successful completion of each objective.

Determine Your Product Lineup and Distribution

Producing every type of beer out there from day one can be a challenge. It's better to do one or a few things extremely well than to try and appeal to every single person's tastes. Once you know what you're producing, you'll need to hone in on your supply chain management strategy, how you'll distribute your product and what price point to sell your products at. 

Identify Your Business Market 

The brewery industry is the largest component of Canada's alcoholic beverage sector , with 10 million Canadians consuming beer on an annual basis. While this provides a huge market to tap into, it also means you need to develop a product that will stand out, resonate with buyers and align with industry trends. Your business plan should encapsulate who your primary target audience is, where they reside, their purchasing behaviours and core values.

Develop a Hiring Strategy

The most successful businesses are built off the dedication, innovation and skills of the employees they hire. Identify how many people you'll need to run the brewery on a day-to-day basis, as well as what skills each role requires. In addition, consider what abilities you are personally missing and make an effort to hire those who can supplement your expertise.

Review the Competition

There are hundreds of microbreweries and full-scale breweries across Canada. Competition is fierce , but so is opportunity. It's important to understand your competitive landscape by conducting online searches, reviewing regional and national statistics and potentially launching a thorough market research study. There are also less traditional ways of collecting data, such as visiting your competitors' brewery, attending trade shows, surveying existing and prospective customers, speaking with suppliers and contacting a trade organization. Once you understand how the competition operates, consider adopting their 'best practices' while still finding ways to make your product stand out.

Establish a Company Culture

Every brewery has its own unique qualities beyond what's sold on the shelves. As a final step in developing your business plan, consider what kind of internal and external culture you want to create. Define your core values – whether it's new product innovation, products for those with food allergens or a traditional method of brewing. Whatever the case, those core values should manifest themselves in every other element of your business plan, including creating actionable steps to establish and protect the culture, as well as training for new or existing employees. 

Getting Started

While this blog post has outlined the core areas your business plan should contain, finding the time to develop a comprehensive, achievable strategy while also trying to launch your brewery can be challenging. However, in exploring these areas, you should be able to start and expand your business with confidence. If you require assistance in building your plan, conducting research or strategies to tailor your plan for lenders and investors, working with an experienced professional, like those in MNP's food & beverage processing industry group, can help you take your brewery from a mere concept to a full-fledged company.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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