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Archive for July, 2012

Best of… week of July 23

July 27, 2012 1 comment

Barley is a major animal feed crop as well as supply for the beer and distilling industries.

Okey dokey… here’s my wrap up of what’s happening and “things you should know” from this past week in Small Business and the Craft Beer Business:

Small Business

Love this: “(Q) How many lawyer jokes are there? (A) Three – the rest are true stories.” I’ve been following Nina Kaufman the last couple of weeks and she has some great insight. Her book: How to Choose and Use Attorneys is a good reference for any company, especially startups. Check her out at http://askthebusinesslawyer.com/ and  http://askthebusinesslawyer.com/how-to-choose-and-use-attorneys

Running a small business is always smooth sailing, right? Especially at home, nothing ever goes wrong there. For the most part, we all have families or lives outside of our businesses, what happens when the s— hits the fan? 3 Tips for Leading Your Business During a Personal Crisis http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/224022

Let’s say everything is running fine. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Right? Not always. Apple is the king of improving or changing an already winning strategy. Why? When to Change a Winning Strategy http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/07/when_to_change_a_winning_strat.html

Are you an S-Corp? Make sure that you periodically check in with a business attorney so that you stay that way! S Corporation Corner: Practitioners Should Schedule Periodic Check-ups http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/jdsupra-65136/?utm_source=jds&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=bizlaw

Since we’re talking tax implications, there are some changes on the horizon that you – at least – need to be aware of. The Fiscal Cliff: 3 Tax Changes You Need to Know Are Cominhttp://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/224051

We’ll segue from tax to other money matters. When is it (or is it not) worth your time/money to go after late payments from customers? here’s a short video (like 60 seconds) on when it’s a good idea. When to Take Legal Action Over Late-Paying Customers http://www.entrepreneur.com/video/223932 also browse around the rest of the website, there’s a ton of good information and I love these little 60 second clips on how-to, when-I-should, or other business tips from experts. And it’s free!

Moving on to intellectual property… here’s a great overview – again short and to the point – on intellectual property and when to use what. How To Make Sure Your Intellectual Property Is Protected http://alltopstartups.com/2012/07/24/how-to-make-sure-your-intellectual-property-is-protected/

I can’t let a week go by without something on Social Media. If you’re just starting up, here’s crash course on what you should be (i.e. “need to be”) doing for your business.  Social Media Lite: If You Do Nothing Else, Do This (Part I) http://openmindworks.com/social-media-lite-if-you-do-nothing-else-do-this/ and Social Media Lite Part II: If You Do Nothing Else, Do This for Your Brand http://openmindworks.com/social-media-lite-part-ii-if-you-do-nothing-else-do-this-for-your-brand/ Also, follow OpenMindWorks on twitter at @openmindworks_, a lot of great information and swell people.

Beer Business

I wrote a piece on whether a brewery could/should be a non-profit. Tonka Beer Co, takes it another route – donating all profits to charity. Tonka Beer Co. goes 100% nonprofit in effort to fight invasive species. http://beerpulse.com/2012/07/tonka-beer-co-goes-100-nonprofit-in-effort-to-fight-invasive-species/

Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) changes discussed by TTB. Good read to get some idea of what they’re going through also. TTB Addresses Label Approval Issues http://www.alcoholicbeverageslawblog.com/2012/07/articles/state-federal-beverage-license/ttb-addresses-label-approval-issues/

The midwestern US is taking a beating this summer in terms of weather. I haven’t heard of this having an effect (yet) on brewers, but it’s something (I think) to watch. Midwest drought worsens, food inflation to rise http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/25/us-usa-drought-idUSBRE86N1M120120725?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2Fenvironment+%28News+%2F+US+%2F+Environment%29

On the other end: Soggy Summer in North Europe Delays Grain for Region’s Beer http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-07-26/soggy-summer-in-north-europe-delays-grain-for-region-s-beer

This is an interesting one. AB-InBev started registering trademarks for airports and now ZIP codes. I don’t know if this is quite the way to capitalize on the “buy local” trend. But the boys at the Big Beer companies aren’t stupid (they may be a lot of things, but they’re not stupid). We’ll see where this goes.  Anheuser-Busch creates “zip code” beers http://www.nj.com/entertainment/dining/index.ssf/2012/07/anheuser-busch_creates_zip_cod.html

While we’re on intellectual property, one near and dear to my heart: trademark. PLEASE work with an attorney before you build a brand or name so this doesn’t happen to you. Coronado Brewing asked to stop using the name, “Stoopid” http://beerpulse.com/2012/07/coronado-brewing-asked-to-stop-using-the-name-stoopid/ By the way, love both beers!

Not strictly beer, but related:  there are less… obnoxious ways to deal with possible TM infringement or unauthorized use. Jack Daniel’s Sends the Most Polite Cease-and-Desist Letter Ever http://mashable.com/2012/07/22/jack-daniels-trademark-letter/

The Brewer’s Association always has great resources (especially for members), but here’s a special one – August Power Hour: Food & Drug Administration Brewery Inspections and Reporting Requirements. Free to members (of you’re not a member, it’s not free, but it may well be worth the price of admission) http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/events/calendar/show?title=august-power-hour-food-drug-administration-brewery-inspections

Just for fun

For the science and math geeks out there, this is just AWESOME : http://www.kleinbottle.com/ I’d love to see a one of these labeled with a brewery logo!

Best of… week of July 16

July 24, 2012 1 comment

An example of a Trader Joe's storefront.

 

It’s that time again! It has been a busier week than I had realized, there’s a lot to cover, so get ready. Here’s my summary of the best articles in (small) Business and (craft) Beer

 

Small Business

 

This year has some special issues going on for personal and corporate/business taxes. Here’s a good summary of upcoming changes that you need to know about The Fiscal Cliff: 3 Tax Changes You Need to Know Are Coming:  http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/224051

 

When you’re a startup company, you need a lawyer (whether you think you do or not). One question comes up: do you pick a lawyer from a big firm or a small firm or solo? Hiring a Lawyer for Your Startup – Big Firm or Small Firm? http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/hiring-a-lawyer-for-your-startup-big-f-23236/?utm_source=jds&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=bizlaw

 

The title says it all: What to Know About Investing in Your Own Business: http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/finance-accounting/2012/07/16/what-to-know-about-investing-in-your-own-business/

 

Every business has that one (or sometimes more than one) employee that’s a little… out there. I’m thinking red Swingline staplers here. How do you deal with them? Especially if their the wunderkind that’s helping you stay afloat? How to Manage Your Smartest, Strangest Employeehttp://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/07/how_to_manage_your_smartest_st.html

 

Since we’re talking about employees here, have you ever had anything go… missing? If you run a business with employees, you need to understand your legal rights (and obligations) regarding employee theft. Employee Theft and Fraud in the Workplace: Legal Considerations http://smallbusiness.jdsupra.com/post/employee-theft

 

Working for tips? What are the tax rules around tips? Think you know? You may not. When is a Tip Not a Tip? – When the IRS Says Sohttp://smallbusiness.jdsupra.com/post/when-is-a-tip-not-a-tip-when-the-irs-says-so?utm_source=jds&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=bizlaw&utm_term=+&utm_content=+

 

Here’s the “hot sheet” of current Employment Law trending topics -> Lewd Conduct, Lactation Accommodation, and Other Steaming Hot Employment Law News! http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/lewd-conduct-lactation-accommodation-a-84063/?utm_source=jds&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=bizlaw

 

Veering away from employees and over to leadership, here’s a good article on how leaders make the bridge between the strategic and the tactical. How Smart Leaders Translate Strategy into Executionhttp://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/07/how_smart_leaders_translate_st.html

 

Can’t let a week go by without a social media legal issue. This seems like a “duh” moment, but, if you didn’t know… You Don’t Own Your Tweetshttp://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/guess-what-you-dont-own-your-tweets-45112/

 

(Craft) Beer Business

 

eBay auctions for beer bottles  that just *happen* to be full (wink wink nudge nudge) have been an ongoing issue for the Craft Beer industry. Here’s Cigar City’s take. An eBay Auction that the Brewery Embraceshttp://beerpulse.com/2012/07/an-ebay-auction-that-the-brewery-embraces/

 

Trader Joe’s has their house brand(s) of beer contract brewed at some very respectable breweries and offer some seriously good beer at reasonable prices. But… there’s trouble “brewing” in TX. Dispute Brewing at Trader Joe’shttp://www.star-telegram.com/2012/07/15/4101255/dispute-brewing-at-trader-joes.html

 

Midwestern (and global) drought. It’s starting to show signs of impacting the food market for grain. Will beer and rbewers be impacted? Grain Prices Pushed to Record Highshttp://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/20/us-usa-drought-idUSBRE86F1D420120720?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2Fenvironment+%28News+%2F+US+%2F+Environment%29

 

Jolly Pumpkin et. al. getting a new, expanded, operations base. Northern United Brewing Company (owners of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and other beer brands) is opening an larger brewing facility in Dexter MI. Thank goodness Ron Jeffries will still be overseeing the beer! Jolly Pumpkin’s Parent Company Opening New Facility Expandable to 150k Square Feethttp://beerpulse.com/2012/07/jolly-pumpkins-parent-company-opening-new-facility-expandable-to-150k-square-feet/

 

We’ve talked about cans before (“That’s right, cans.”), but have you considered that some beers or brands might work better in cans than in bottles, simply because it’s in a can? Here’s Midnight Sun’s Experience, “[they did ] ‘okay’ in our 22-ounce bottles…. When we put them in cans, they started flying off the shelves….” Alaska Beers Get Cannedhttp://www.anchoragepress.com/food_and_drink/brew_review/alaska-beers-get-canned/article_cb5ee510-d1ee-11e1-b3f9-001a4bcf887a.html

 

Just for Fun

 

If you don’t read Mental Floss, you totally should. Give it a day, or just follow them on Twitter. It’s addictive. http://mentalfloss.com/

 

 

Best of… for the week of July 9

July 15, 2012 1 comment
Rochefort Trappist Brewery in Abbey of Our Lad...

Rochefort Trappist Brewery in Abbey of Our Lady of Saint-Remy, Wallonia, Belgium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NEXT! Here’s the roundup for this week:

Small Business

I heard a statistic that the most people will have an average of 5 careers in their working life. That means that there’s got to be a lot of people out there with life and work changes. Maybe the best person for the job isn’t the one with the most experience doing that job? Why I Like People with Unconventional Resumés

So… Pinterest, huh? Well, here’s some way that some businesses are using Pinterest to drive their business in real, tangible ways. 5 Ways Brands Use Pinterest To Authentically Connect

If you’re running a business, you’re a leader. Often, whether you like it or not. How do you ensure that you’re effective? Here’s one measure. How Effective Leaders Talk (and listen) – Podcast with Transcript

As en employer, you fall under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). You have to make “reasonable accommodation” for employees with disabilities. What’s “reasonable?” 5 Reasonable Accommodations an Employer Almost Never has to Make.

There’s also the ongoing question(s) about employees and the role of Social Media at home and at work:  Legislatures Aim to Protect Social Media Privacy of Employees and Applicants

While we’re talking about “online” … Protecting Yourself Online Doesn’t have to Involve Legal . While we’re at it, was your password leaked? How to Check if Your Yahoo, Gmail, or AOL Password was Leaked

Lastly… remember to register your trademarks! Avoid a “Heart Attack”: Promptly Register your Trademarks

Beer Business

More on the effects of the AB-InBev/Modelo deal. Ripples from A-B/Modelo deal could extend far and wide.

Trademark issue specific to the beer industry: New Albion is a name that is near and dear to the heart of every small brewer in the US (or it should be, look it up!). Boston Beer Company looks to register the mark.  Boston Beer Co. may need to use ‘New Albion’ mark in order to register it

Woohoo! The coveted and long awaited 8th Trappist Brewery! New Trappist Beer on Sale in UK (maybe the US soon?)

Can a brewery be a non-profit?

July 12, 2012 3 comments
Picture of all seven trappist beers

Picture of all seven trappist beers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wait, no. I mean intentionally a non-profit organization? I’m sure there are plenty of brewer/owners out there that would readily admit that their business is  currently a “non-profit.” I mean, in the legal, tax-status sense.

And the answer is: maybe.

Maybe

Classic lawyer-speak, “maybe.” What I really mean is that maybe you could, but I don’t think you would want to. But here’s what goes into the analysis:

In order to be a non-profit organization, you have a “charitable purpose.” You can fill out your state paperwork to incorporate as a non-profit corporation (for example, in NC) and be an “entity.” But then, to get the tax benefits, you need to apply for tax exempt status at the IRS. NC, like many states, simply follows the Federal decision on whether your company is tax exempt or not.  And, here’s the kicker, a main goal of your company cannot be “to make money.”

If I can’t make money, why would I start a company? – I hear you ask. Well, the answer to that is, generally, you wouldn’t.

Non-profits Generally

But, there are those that want to give back to the community, help out the less advantaged, etc, without assuming all the personal liability or to go after serious fundraising. I work with several non-profits that focus on everything from providing job training to at-risk youth to providing a home for abandoned children. That’s what the non-profit business structure is made for and where it works best.

Well, can’t I make a little money? – Aha! Sure enough, there’s an entity called an L3C or Low-profit Limited Liability Company.

L3C

Many states allow L3Cs, such as NC, but many states do not, so you need to be sure of what your state does and doesn’t allow. L3Cs, generally, are sort of a hybrid between non-profits and for-profits. For an L3C, the state expects you to (1) have a business that makes money and (2) have a “charitable purpose” that uses the money that the business makes. A good example might be a church or community thrift store. No one opens a church thrift store thinking they’ll retire to the bahamas in a few years. It’s meant to be low-profit. An L3C, just like a non-profit, can pay employees and raise funds. What it can’t do is “intend” to make money for the sake of making money or for the sake of the owner(s).

But what about breweries?

So, how does all that relate to a brewery? Well, as a start-up, a brewery (at least typically) has a long, tough slog to get to being profitable. Could a brewery be a non-profit during that time to ease the expenses (especially the taxes). Answer: No.

The State, and especially the IRS, are going to say that you don’t have a charitable purpose as the goal of the business – so you won’t get your tax-exempt status. Even if you did get your tax-exempt status, you’d lose it eventually as you paid the owners more and more over time, then the IRS might come after your for tax fraud (remember, it brought down Capone!).

Could a brewery be an L3C? Well, yes, actually.

Let’s take the Trappist Abbey of St. Sixtus of Westvlateren as an example (assuming that Westvleteren was in North Carolina – aside: wouldn’t that be AWESOME?!?). The monks at the Abbey have often been asked if they’re going to increase production. They’ve replied (I’m paraphrasing here) “We brew beer so we can afford to run the Abbey and be monks, not the other way around.” This attitude and set-up would be a perfect model for an L3C: a business tightly linked to a charitable purpose where there is little or no excess profit.

But, Westvleteren is a special situation. After all there are only 7 Trappist breweries in the world. It would take a very special set of circumstances for a brewery to want to be an L3C organization and for an L3C to fit the business plan/model.

So, I’ll end this the way I started, I think a brewery could be a non-profit or an L3C, but I’m not sure that a brewery would want to.

Best of… for the week of June 25th

July 4, 2012 1 comment

 

English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...

English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ok, so here’s the roundup for this week:

Small Business

 

Are you focusing on your social media marketing? Thinking about how you use social media to dive sales? What about a social media policy in your business? Here are 5 Bad Habits Small Business Have With Social Media.

 

Once you have defined how/when you’re using social media for your business, and what you expect, it’s time to think about Ways to Protect Your Reputation on the Internet. And another one: How to Protect Yourself on Pinterest.

 

Since we’re talking about reputation, if your a franchisee (or franchisor) Do You Have an Obligation to Maintain Brand Strength?

 

Also, you’re trying to do the right thing and make things better for your employees, but what are The Legal Concerns Implicated By Corporate Wellness Programs?

 

There’s a ton of places, blogs, and stories about how Health Care Reform will affect businesses. What’s the effect on small businesses? If you’re already having trouble making ends meet, what does this mean for you? Here’s a local story on thoughts and fears of small businesses.

 

For a little more in-depth analysis, here’s 5 Immediate Steps for Businesses Now that Obamacare is Upheld.

 

Beer Business

 

The big story in the last week is the AB-InBev / Grupo Modelo deal.

 

Also, Mississippi is headed the right way, is this a new market for your beer business? Or a chance for Mississippi to grow their craft beer culture? Mississippi to Celebrate New Law Allowing Higher Alcohol Beer.

 

Even in the beer business, you need to protect your reputation… whatever it is. Dark Horse Brewery Turns Down Nickelback Endorsement.

 

Does that make it global “kinderbier?” Coca-Cola and Pepsi Contain Alcohol.

 

Also, as you’re developing your marketing, take read over 3 Biggest Pitch Mistakes Every Brand Makes.

 

Humor/For Fun

 

How to solve impossible problems: Daniel Russell’s awesome Google search techniques. Wow. Just wow. Since I saw this late last week, I’ve been looking at the interwebs totally differently.

 

How do the “big boys” fit with Craft Beer and the Craft Beer Business?

July 4, 2012 1 comment
Anheuser-Busch InBev's Holiday Gift to Revision3

Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Holiday Gift to Revision3 (Photo credit: dlprager)

I’ve been thinking about the Big Beer companies, the big and the getting-bigger companies.

The story starts a few weeks ago. I had been watching a thread on a forum where a homebrewer started off by saying something like “I can’t drink macro lager anymore. I can’t believe anyone who like craft beer can stand to drink that other stuff.” There were a lot of comments like “I can’t drink that swill,” or “there’s no substitute for flavor.” There were some comments to the tune of “yeah, but at the ball park or the beach on a hot day,” or “I still have a macro beer at a party now and then.”

So here’s my thinking: Whether you like their product or not, you have to give credit to the breweries that are turning out light american lager on a global scale. Any homebrewer that has tried to do it can tell you that Light American Lager is a *very* difficult style to brew and brew well. Yet, here are the massive companies turning out millions of gallons of the stuff all over the world and achieving flavor and production consistency that most small commercial brewers can only hope to emulate. Clearly, these macro breweries know their business and have the brewing down to a science. Folks like AB-InBev, MolsonCoors/SABMiller have developed, used, re-invented, and forgotten more beer science than most people will ever know. They have their process control tight and their Quality Control tighter. They know how to brew beer.

And they’ve got money. And they’re not stupid – they’re watching the steady growth of craft beer year over year. And they’ve got to want in. Examples of attempts include everything from AB-Inbev’s Shocktop and Amberbock to MolsonCoor’s Blue Moon. Some forays are more successful than others (Budweiser American Ale anyone?).

So: (1) they’ve got the money (i.e. capital to invest), (2) they’ve got the science know-how, (3) they’ve got creative people (surely out of those hundreds of thousands of employees, someone’s got to be creative right?), and (4) they’ve got the marketing and desire to do it. Why aren’t they bigger players in the craft beer segment. Some have turned to buying up craft breweries to help augment their foothold, but these guys are science and marketing juggernauts, why do they struggle with getting into craft beer?

This seems like a conundrum from the outside. I have my thoughts on why this is, I’m sure you do too. My question here is, what do you think the long term role of the marcro beer companies is going to be in the craft beer market segment?

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