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Advice on being in the Business of Making Beer

In a recent Facebook post on a local independent craft brewery website there was content about a certain beer style that I really love. A style they produce and sell in bottles. So I commented and asked for information about where to buy their bottles. Two weeks later you can still hear the crickets.

Yes, it made my expensive fancy MBA sigh. Businesses often disappoint me for getting the easy things completely wrong.

The sad truth, whatever the product or service, is that running a business is entirely unlike what the business does for a living. Being a great beer maker doesn’t mean you’re a great business person. It doesn’t make you a financial wizard, a marketing magician or a strategy guru. You make great beer. Nothing more, nothing less.

And in a fair and just universe that would be enough. Right? You make the greatest beer of anybody and the people come to pay you for the privilege of imbibing the nectar from your fermentation tanks.

Only, it’s a not a fair and just universe. You need to consider the benefit of maintaining live and effective strategic business plans and business marketing documents. How are you going to get a slice of that pie? How are you going to compete? How are your competitors achieving their goals? In the words of a lecturer I had at business school… “imagine the people have your money in their pockets – how do you convince them to give it back?”

This is why I find it so disappointing to see a local independent craft brewery fall over on the simplest level of customer communication. If you don’t want to interact… don’t go onto social media. In fact, if your business had a codified e-marketing strategy you would be reading a line in there that says something like “all interactions on social media must be responded to within 24 hours”. This is an important document because it dictates the procedures required for achieving your SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goals in marketing your products.

One trouble with small business is they pretty much never feel like they’re broken until the doors are being closed on them. If you don’t have these plans and measurable goals – if you don’t have good management – then you can’t see the cliff coming because that lack of research will leave you blind. Or, at least, heavily blinkered and hobbled by ignorance.

You would think that people investing so much expense and effort into a highly competitive (and not entirely lucrative) space would really want to be on their toes when it comes to fighting for a share of that pie.

I’d suggest this local independent craft brewery stop thinking about beer as fine art. It’s fundamentally a business. Make good beer… but don’t forget for a minute why you moved from home brewer to pro-brewer and how that affects things like paying your rent and putting food on the table at home. You’re in business.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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