If you are considering jumping into the craft beer business how do you know if you have what it takes to succeed? There are many attributes associated with being a successful entrepreneur such as having the energy and drive necessary to begin and sustain a new venture. So where do you start?

First, determine why you want to be in the craft beer industry. Some brewery professionals such as Kelly Taylor of the Kelso Brewing Company (www.kelsobeer.com) have stated they enjoy the “challenges, variety and sense of accomplishment that come with being a business owner”.

Second, take a self-inventory of your skill set. What skills do you have that are beneficial to becoming a craft beer entrepreneur? This also varies depending on whether the craft beer business you decide upon is a brewpub, brewery or distributor. Some skills identified with successful entrepreneurs are (Kaplan, & Warren, 2013):

– Ability to be resilient even in the face of failure by learning and moving on.

– Navigating in an uncertain environment by using critical thinking skills and knowing that not everything needs to be perfect or

you will not accomplish important tasks.

– Able to network, communicate, obtain consensus and lead (not micromanage).

– Risk taker, by taking action, however, this is moderated by being realistic and making changes as needed.

Besides entrepreneurial skills it is important to analyze what types of skills you will bring to the business. Are you a passionate home brewer with proven results? Beware!  Going from a five gallon to a 15 barrel (465 gallons) system requires new skills to craft quality beer and safely operate (Warner, 2010). So, obtaining training and hands-on experience, hiring a qualified brewer and finding a mentor are all options to carefully consider. I have experienced many brewery start-up’s in which the owners believed they could perform all the brewing activities and soon realized they were out of their depth. To read some first-hand accounts of some of the pitfalls others have experienced I recommend reading the forums at www.probrewer.com.

Finally, to aid in determining where your skills will fit best for your business the creation of a business plan is helpful and a critical part of ensuring success. Creating a business plan is essential to the initial and continued success of any business, provides guidance for long term planning and takes approximately 200 hours to complete (Kaplan, & Warren, 2013). While this may seem to be a considerable amount of time to invest, the investment is insignificant compared to the costs associated with a failed business venture such as loans, personal investment(s) and other liabilities. For example, the start-up costs for a brewery are capital intensive due to the high cost of purchasing brewery equipment. A useful tool for creating a business plan can be found at the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The next blog entry will discuss areas of opportunity for those considering becoming craft beer entrepreneurs.

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