It’s pretty remarkable how important our business plan has been for us. Not only has it helped to focus my thoughts about the whole process, but it’s also the first thing any financial institution asks for when you’re trying to get any type of funding (including leasing).
Starting a business plan is a daunting process. As with so many steps along the way, when you see the mountain of work in front of you that needs to be done, the first reaction is paralysis. You soon realize though that the only way for things to get done is to just jump onto that scary mountain and get to work. It was no different for us.
We really had no idea how to write one, or where to start, but after reading about how important a business plan can be, we knew it was something we had to do. Basically, we just bought some books, looked at some templates, and then started going through each section slowly and thoroughly.
We started a three-ring note book, and divided it into sections based on each section of the business plan. Then we went through, section by section, and gathered as much information as we could on that particular topic, giving ourselves a deadline for each section. (for instance, writing biographies for ourselves; collecting market research data; describing the vision of our company; etc.)
One of the things to remember as you go through the process of writing a plan is that it is just one step in getting to your ultimate goal. You’ll learn a lot about the process, and about your business as you write the plan, but don’t get too caught up in making it the “perfect business plan”. In other words, concentrate on the important information about your own business, but definitely use templates and paraphrase from other plan samples. The important thing is that it gets done, and that you move on to the next step!
Here’s some of the resources we used to figure out how to structure the plan, and what it should look like.
The Small Business Start-Up Kit for California, by Peri H. Pakroo, J.D. (Nolo Press)
The Successful Business Plan, Secrets & Strategies, by Rhonda Abrams (The Planning Shop)
The Brewer’s Association’s Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery, edited by Ray Daniels (Brewers Publications)
The New Brewer (A magazine published by the Brewers Association, and a wealth of information. Every year their May/June issue has detailed stats on the craft brewing industry, which are usually broken down by category and region.) (…this magazine comes with your BA membership…)
Restaurant Owner (A paid subscription service, but a great resource for templates & forms)
Brewers Association (Great general information & a great resource for statistics)
Beer Serves America (Stats & economic impact of the brewing industry. You can do searches based on zip code…very handy.)
Flying Fish Brewing Company (Follow the link to “Fish Tales” and there is a great bit of information about starting a brewery…not specifically about a business plan, but great info anyway)