Starting a microbrewery can be a great way to make a living, while also enjoying your favorite hobby. It can be an especially appealing business venture for those who love beer and want to share their passion with others.
Here are the 10 steps you can take to get started on building your very own microbrewery business.
10 Steps to Launching a New Microbrewery Business
1. Choose Your Type of Microbrewery Business
The first step in launching a microbrewery business is to identify the type of microbrewery business you want to launch. You might choose from the following types among others:
- Brewpub: a restaurant that serves beer brewed on the premises
- Packaging brewery: a microbrewery that only produces beer in bottles, cans, or kegs for sale to retailers
- Contract brewing company: a microbrewery that produces beer for another company, often under that company’s label
2. Name Your Microbrewery Business
Give your microbrewery business an identity so people will think of it as a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your microbrewery business from your industry, focus on a geographical location, or use your own name among other options.
The main goal for naming your microbrewery business is to make it sound appealing and trustworthy so that potential customers will want to try your microbrewery.
3. Determine Your Microbrewery Business Model
There are several possible types of business models for a microbrewery business including:
- Distribution: You can sell your beer to retailers who will then sell it to customers.
- On-premises: Customers come to your brewery to drink your beer on the premises.
- Online store: You can sell your beer online through a website or other online storefront.
You might choose one type of business model or you might offer a combination of these.
No matter which model you choose, make sure that it aligns with your business goals and the products you offer.
Read more about choosing the right business model for your microbrewery business.
4. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business
By incorporating your microbrewery business, you will limit your liability. You can incorporate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a C Corporation (C-Corp), or an S Corporation (S-Corp). Or you can operate as a sole proprietorship.
The business structure you choose for your microbrewery business will determine the amount of taxes you pay and which state or federal tax forms you need to file.
Read our article comparing the most common microbrewery business structures.
5. Write a Microbrewery Business Plan
All microbrewery business owners should develop a business plan.
A business plan is a document that outlines the goals, strategies, and operations of a business. It can be used to secure funding from investors or lenders, as well as to guide the day-to-day operations of the business. The business plan should include information on the company’s products or services, market analysis, financial projections, and management team among other things.
When developing your microbrewery business plan and strategy, you should think about the following questions your customers might have:
- What unique beer flavors do you offer?
- When does your microbrewery open and when does it close?
- Do you own your recipes for the beers you brew or are they available to anyone?
- Can I bring a large party to your microbrewery?
- Do you serve food at your microbrewery?
- Do you focus on producing the highest-quality beer or the most-popular beer?
- Do you have a website with further information?
- Do you sell promotional merchandise?
- Can I bring my dog to your microbrewery?
Answering these questions will help you develop a clear and concise business plan.
Read our article about how to write a microbrewery business plan.
6. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses
There may be required licenses and permits you need to obtain before launching your microbrewery business.
For example, you will need a license to manufacture alcohol as well as a license to sell it.
You will also need to comply with zoning regulations and obtain a permit to build any necessary structures.
You must also register your microbrewery business as a legal entity with the state where you plan to do business. You can simply file an online form through your Secretary of State website.
Registering with the federal government is also essential so you can properly pay taxes for your business. You will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can apply for at the IRS website, if you plan to hire employees.
Read our article about obtaining the proper microbrewery business licenses.
7. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed
In developing your microbrewery business plan, you will figure out how much funding you need to start and grow your business.
If you have your own funds to invest in your microbrewery business, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to your personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your microbrewery business include traditional bank loans, SBA loans, credit cards, angel investors and family and friends.
Read our article about the costs associated with starting a microbrewery business to help you determine if funding is needed.
8. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently
When you start your microbrewery business, it’s essential to have the right technology in place to maximize efficiency. You definitely need a computer with Internet access, and accounting software for tracking expenses and revenues.
You may also want to invest in specialized brewing software to help streamline your brewing business processes. This software can track inventory, automate ordering and provide other valuable features for your business.
When it comes to choosing the right technology for your microbrewery business, be sure to select solutions that are user-friendly and those that will save you time and money in the long run.
9. Market Your Microbrewery Business to Potential Customers
Before you start selling your products, you have to let the world know you exist. The first step is to create a website so people can learn more about your products and how they benefit them.
After you launch your website, start promoting it through social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Also consider networking with other people in the microbrewery industry through social media and blogs so they can help share your business.
You also need to start gathering the materials needed to execute on your promotions strategy, which is your strategy for attracting new customers. Microbrewery businesses should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared:
- Sponsoring local events and activities
- Distributing flyers and other marketing materials at local businesses
- Offering brewery tours and tastings
- Selling merchandise with the brewery’s name and logo
- Hosting beer tastings and food pairings
- Collaborating with other local businesses
Read our article about how to market your microbrewery business for more tips.
10. Get New Customers & Grow Your Business
When you promote your products, you’ll start to get interest from potential customers.
Make sure you’re ready to serve these customers. Also, be sure to establish systems to ensure consistency and reduce costs. And be sure to find and train the right people to help you grow your microbrewery business.
Read our article about how to effectively grow your microbrewery business to learn more.
Starting a Microbrewery Business FAQs
The microbrewery industry is growing rapidly as a growing number of people are interested in trying new craft beers. This presents a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to start your own microbrewery businesses. If you love beer and are interested in starting your own business, a microbrewery may be the perfect option for you.
Keep in mind that you can be creative and experimental with your recipes to come up with new and unique beers, as well.
To start a successful microbrewery business, you need to have a passion for beer and brewing. You also need to be able to handle the financial and organizational aspects of running a business. Additionally, it’s important to have a strong marketing and promotional strategy to get customers interested in your products.
There are a number of ways you can market your microbrewery business online. The first step is to create a website so people can learn more about your products and how they benefit them. Once you have a website, start promoting it through social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. You should also consider networking with other people in the microbrewery industry through social media and blogs. Additionally, you can market your business by sponsoring local events, distributing flyers and other marketing materials, and hosting beer tastings and food pairings.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when starting a microbrewery business:
- Make sure you have a passion for beer and brewing.
- Be able to handle the financial and organizational aspects of running a business.
- Develop a strong marketing and promotional strategy.
- Get prepared to serve customers by establishing systems.
- Find the right people to help you grow your business.
- Market your business online by creating a website and promoting it through social media channels.
- Sponsor local events, distribute marketing materials, and host beer tastings and food pairings to attract new customers.
- Constantly experiment with new recipes to create unique and innovative beers.
- Stay up-to-date on trends in the microbrewery industry.
- Be patient – it takes time to build a successful microbrewery business.
A simple checklist to use when starting a microbrewery business is as follows:
- Choose Your Type of Microbrewery: This should be based on what you are best at and how much experience you have. Remember to keep your interests, skills, and experience in mind at all times.
- Name Your Microbrewery Business: This should be done with care, as your brand is important for attracting the right customers. A simple, memorable name will go a long way.
- Choose a Legal Form for Your Business: Whether you choose to become a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation or another option will depend on your business. Ensure that you are aware of all the implications of each type.
- Determine Your Microbrewery Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
- Write a Microbrewery Business Plan: Your business plan will also help you determine what your start-up costs will be and will provide a roadmap with which you can launch and grow.
- Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses: In most locations you will be required to apply for a business license and/or permits before you can begin operations.
- Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed: You will need to know how much money you have to spend on all of your business-related expenses before opening any doors. If needed, apply for a small business loan or other funding options.
- Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently: You need to have the right tools in place to succeed. Implement software that will help you manage your time, contacts, and business operations in general.
- Market Your Microbrewery Business to Potential Customers: A solid marketing plan will be crucial to your success. It should focus on attracting the right customers so that you can provide them with the products they truly need.
- Get Customers & Grow Your Business: Once you have a solid marketing plan, it's time to actively pursue and secure those who could benefit the most from your products.
Starting a microbrewery business can be a great way to turn your passion for beer into a successful enterprise. There are many things to consider before taking the step to open a microbrewery, such as selecting your type of microbrewery, your business model, and securing start-up investors. Creating a detailed business plan and a marketing strategy are also essential for success. Once you’ve taken care of the logistics, it’s time to get out there and start selling your delicious products to beer-lovers!