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Best of… for the week of August 13, 2012

August 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Anderson Valley Brewing Company Hop Ottin' IPA

Here’s my round-up (a couple of days late) of last weeks best stories and articles for Small Business and Beer Business.

Small Business

I often advise clients on when is the right time to incorporate or form a business (i.e. start acting as a business and not as a person) and why. Thanks to Nina Kaufman (@ninakaufman) for summing this up in this short video. 3 Reasons to Incorporate Your Business http://www.entrepreneur.com/video/224126

In real estate, it’s all about “location, location, location.” In small business, it’s all about “planning, planning, planning.” That means that, at least for a period of time, your personal and business life will revolve around your business plan. Make sure it’s thorough. Why Your Business Plan Is Probably Incomplete http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224195

Remember, even if you’re small business, it’s not all about you. Your team (internal or external) is what will make the biggest difference to your success. To Be Number One, Get the Right Number Two http://blogs.hbr.org/kanter/2012/08/to-be-number-one-get-the-right.html

More on Leadership: Crisis management is a topic for every small business person. What makes a good manager in a crisis? When Good Management Is a Matter of Life and Death http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/08/the_leadership_mistakes_that_l.html?awid=4678865509342592577-3271

Ok, so that’s what to do. How about what not to do (on a day to day basis)? The Seven Deadly Sins of Management http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/08/the_seven_deadly_sins_of_manag.html

Continuing on the HBR bandwagon (they’ve had a great week!)… I remember a line from a movie “everyone *thinks* they have a sense of humor, even the ones who don’t.” Everyone *thinks* they’re a good boss. Are you? Really? Are You Sure You’re Not a Bad Boss? http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/08/are_you_sure_youre_not_a_bad_b.

Employee of my dreams? I don’t think so. I’d settle for a “good” employee. Maybe even “decent.” There are days when I’m desperate enough to take someone as basic as “breathing.” Here’s some things to look for in your employee search. How to Hire the Right Employees for Your Startup http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224191

Beer Business

Here’s an interesting article on what may be a direction for the beer industry/business down the road. Focuses on the technology and sensory options for deconstructing and developing a beer. Yeast of Eden: the future of beer http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2012/aug/13/yeast-eden-future-of-beer?newsfeed=true

Love that many small farmers and agri-businesspersons are rediscovering the economies that drove our great grandparents. It used to be that brewing beer on the farm was the norm, not the exception. Here’s a great story on it. Maryland farmers try beer production http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bs-md-ca-farm-brewery-20120813,0,3856297.story

Good LORD! Have you been watching this story unfold? Heineken & Tiger Beer. here: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/NH15Ae01.html and here: http://t.co/bFzVv59j and here: http://t.co/fAHyOCGc

You know that right after they planted it, they had to have made beer from it. Can we brew again with einkorn? Bulgarians cultivating ancient einkorn grain http://goo.gl/GQM0E

I happen to think that there should be more of this sort of cross-pollination between the alcohol industries. Cheers to Anderson Valley! Anderson Valley Brewing Co. forms partnership with Wild Turkey Bourbon http://beerpulse.com/2012/08/anderson-valley-brewing-co-forms-partnership-with-wild-turkey-bourbon/

Here’s an interesting article out of the UK. I don’t know that this is a huge issue in the US right now, but with the rising cost & popularity of craft beer, maybe we should be on the watch for tax dodges like this. Bootleg Beer Hitting Lawful Traders http://goo.gl/wY6y4

Speaking of prices fluctuating (up anyway), here’s a good video and article about how/when beer prices shift. Grin and Beer It: Some Beer Prices Will Increasehttp://t.co/KALtGRKN

Love Oskar Blues‘ beer, and I’m thrilled they’re coming to NC. IF you haven’t heard, they’re planning on brewing their Dale’s Pale Ale in NC before the end of the year! I was a project manager in a former life/career. For something of this scale, that’s a really, *really* fast build . Cheers to them! Beer Guy: Oskar Blues plans quick build http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20120816/ASHEVILLESCENE/308160019

Not to be outdone, Sierra Nevada has accelerated their build timeline as well. They’ve moved their “open” date to July 2013 (another *fast* build). Sierra Nevada changes opening date to July 2013 http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20120814/ARTICLES/120819909?p=1&tc=pg

I’ve never understood where the stigma for Contract Brewing came from. Just because you don’t physically *own* the equipment, it’s not really brewing? Please. I’ve got to give credit to Shaun O’Sullivan at 21st Amendment Brewery (563 2nd Street, “that’s right, cans.”) – I like his re-invention to calling it Partner Brewing. Contract is Not a Dirty Word in Brewing http://www.craftbeer.com/pages/stories/craft-beer-muses/show?title=contract-is-not-a-dirty-word-in-brewing#.UC0wG69w_N8.twitter

I *just* posted on this a few weeks ago. Sounds interesting, I’d like to hear more. Oregon Public House: The First Nonprofit Pub (VIDEO) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bus-52/oregon-public-house-video_b_1773883.html

Here’s good article on the dangers (no matter which side of the fence you’re on) with market consolidation in the beer industry. One Company Will Soon Control Half of the U.S. Beer Market http://business.time.com/2012/07/03/one-company-will-soon-control-half-of-the-u-s-beer-market/

Speaking of market consolidation… U.S. Department of Justice formally requests more info on A-B InBev/Modelo deal http://beerpulse.com/2012/08/u-s-department-of-justice-formally-requests-more-info-on-a-b-inbevmodelo-deal/

Market impact: How will the weather/crops so far this year effect the beer industry? Here’s the skinny – USDA August 2012 Crop Report: update on barley, hops and applehttp://beerpulse.com/2012/08/usda-august-2012-crop-report-update-on-barley-hops-and-apples/

Just for fun

I love Mental Floss (http://www.mentalfloss.com)! Here’s one of their recent goodies: 11 Tips for That Benjamin Harrison Birthday Bash You’re Probably Planning http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/138568 (back when being many meant facial hair! Benjamin Harrison – our last bearded president).

Best of… for the week of August 6, 2012

August 10, 2012 1 comment
At the beer garden

At the beer garden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ok, well, it’s that time again… time to recap the week. But, I took an unexpected week off last week so I need to catch up. Here’s the best from the last TWO weeks!

Small Business

As folks look to form businesses, you have to ask yourself questions about what kind of structure makes sense for your business. I love the title of this article, it’s worth a read (by the way, the answer is “No.”) Will a Corporation or Limited Liability Company Protect You from Yourself? http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/will-a-corporation-or-limited-liability-55959/?utm_source=jds&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=bizlaw

We always talk about intellectual property and social media here. It’s a growing area and no one really knows how some things are going to shake out. AND it’s growing faster than things CAN shake out in some cases. Here’s a new one re: copyright. What’s the impact of Pinterest on your copyrights? Let It Slide: Copyright Infringement On Pinterest http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/let-it-slide-copyright-infringement-on-04280/?utm_source=jds&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=bizlaw

Crowdfunding is another issue where things are taking off much faster than the legal framework can adapt. Here’s a good article on some points to consider before you jump in. How To Make Sure Your Crowdfunding Dreams Don’t Turn Into An Investor Relations Nightmare http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/05/how-to-make-sure-your-crowdfunding-dreams-dont-turn-into-an-investor-relations-nightmare/

Here’s another Nina Kaufman item. Great little video about Terms & Conditions on your website. Think you only need to worry about that if you sell online? You’re wrong. Tune in. 3 Reasons Why Your Website Should Include Terms and Conditions http://www.entrepreneur.com/video/223931

While we’re touting Nina, here’s another of her videos on an oft-overlooked subject. Who is your partner? Do you know who you’re getting into business with? You better! Sometimes it’s easier to get divorced from a spouse than to disengage from a business partner. How to Know If a Business Partner is Right for You. http://www.entrepreneur.com/video/224127 also, be sure to follow Nina Kaufman at @ninakaufman on twitter.

This article sounds like it’s directed at big business, but the principles apply to every innovator (as a small business owner, that’s you!) and it’s worth a read. The Planning Fallacy and the Innovator’s Dilemma http://blogs.hbr.org/anthony/2012/08/the_planning_fallacy_and_the_i.html?awid=7946997658421232138-3271

Beer Business

In Oklahoma, they’ve formed a brewing cooperative. It’s a different legal structure that has advantages and disadvantages of its own. Looks like it’s working out for them right now. Oklahoma City brewing cooperative aims to grow beer culturehttp://newsok.com/oklahoma-city-brewing-cooperative-aims-to-grow-beer-culture/article/3697637#ixzz22glEIQ8g

One of my favorite subjects: North Carolina Beer! Here’s a guide for you out-of-towners. No place like foam: Your guide to cool microbreweries in North Carolina http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/vs-travel-north-carolina-microbreweries-20120730,0,1960437.story

Still on NC… Boulevard Brewing jumps on the bandwagon with distribution. Many breweries are leap-frogging over other surrounding states to get into the NC market. Boulevard Brewing Company Entering Georgia and North Carolina in 2012 http://www.brewbound.com/news/boulevard-brewing-company-entering-georgia-and-north-carolina-in-2012

More on NC! Oskar Blues to start production in Brevard in December http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20120805/ARTICLES/120809916

On the other end of the spectrum, how would you like to be labeled with “only” and “first” when it’s something the rest of the country doesn’t see as a big deal? Beer from here: Alabama’s only brewpub opens at Heroes in Weaver http://www.annistonstar.com/view/full_story/19718633/article-Beer-from-here–Alabama%E2%80%99s-f%E2%80%8Airst-brewpub-opens-at-Heroes-in-Weaver?instance=home_lifestyle (by the way, Good for them!)

Here’s a question I come back to again and again: If you’re a brewer/brewery, how do you balance between what you like to brew/drink and what sells the best? Here’s one take from Magic Hat (the article is mostly about Angel City Brewing, but scroll down). Under wing of new owners, Angel City Brewing begins again http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-angel-city-20120803,0,3552857.story

Nice little article out of Columbus OH on how beer gardens are changing the “bar” experience. Even at public venues.Gemütlichkeit! Beer gardens fare well http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/08/05/beer-gardens-fare-well.html

Good discussion of how the Beer Business reflects (or is reflected by?) the global economy. The State Of The Beer Industry Perfectly Reflects The Global Economy http://www.businessinsider.com/beer-a-reflection-of-the-world-economy-2012-7

Unless you’ve been living under a beer-deprived rock for the last few years, you know that collaboration projects are on the rise. They’re a great way to build the beer culture, share ideas, and create new and exciting beers. What makes a good collaboration (on a business/legal level)? Best Practices for Successful Collaboration http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/best-practices-for-successful-collaborat-97122/?utm_source=jds&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=bizlaw

This may be the year for mega-deals in the beer business. By August, the total amount changing hands is over $35 billion (that’s with a “B”). In deals, brewers hop to it. http://www.jg.net/article/20120805/BIZ/308059961/1031/BIZ

Despite the consolidation in some markets/segments, in the US, we’ve hit a 125 year high in total number of breweries. Woot! BREWERS ASSOCIATION REPORTS 2012 MID-YEAR GROWTH FOR U.S. CRAFT BREWERS http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/media/press-releases/show?title=brewers-association-reports-2012-mid-year-growth-for-u-s-craft-brewers

Just for fun

Being a Trekkie (and I still use Trekkie, not the new-fangled “Trekker,” I’m old-school like that), I though this was an interesting infographic. The Science of Star Trek http://cheezburger.com/6493989888 or http://i.imgur.com/PAfaT.jpg

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?)

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?

Best of… for the week of June 18, 2012

Happy Hour

Happy Hour (Photo credit: joelplutchak)

Ok, so here’s the round up for this past week. I’m going to try and separate by topic area, but there’s a lot to cover, so buckle in!

Small Business

Beware the Paralyzing “Whac-A-Mole” Trademark Mentality

Trademark: develop a trademark strategy. First, don’t run after a trademark after someone else has started using it. Then don’t fall into the “whack a mole” trap of trying to secure marks after you’ve started using them in… unpredictable ways. http://t.co/710cu3ea

Is your business protected in Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy, personal or business, is a serious matter. In your planning for bankruptcy or looking at your credit situation, make sure that your business is protected. http://t.co/kViHrDCS

You May Need a Lawyer for that

Start-up are often (wisely) concerned with saving money up front. When is it a good investment to pay for professional services (like a lawyer). http://t.co/Wz9xwvA4

Capital Gains Tax Opportunity: Permanent?

Be sure to keep up on what’s going on tax wise. Unless you’re not planning on making any money ever. http://t.co/7udiFixq

Social Media Tips for Trademark Protection

Ways you can prevent cybers-quatting and trademark-hijacking. http://t.co/7udiFixq

At Will Employment: Does it Matter?

If you have (or are gonna have) employees, you need to check this out. You’ll need to have an employee handbook or some set of personnel policies, but what should be in them/it? http://t.co/7udiFixq

Beer Business

Contract Brewing Revisited

Contract brewing goes through cycles, but remains an important part of our industry. How do your brewery and Contract (or Partner) Brewing fit together? http://t.co/Yj7Nmkew

So You Want to Open the Next Great Craft Beer Bar?

If you’re looking at opening a bar (or even just your taproom at your brewery), Chris Black of the award-winning Falling Rock Tap House shares his thoughts on what it takes http://t.co/a1vYcyOh

Financial / Progress Report from Boston Beer Co.

Check out how well one of the big micros is doing. http://t.co/bYnPgkms

Global Beer Prices (per pint)

Just saw this today. I don’t know if I’d say it was determinative, but it does give you a good perspective on how beer prices work at the consumer, front-of-the-house, lay-your-money-down level. http://t.co/Eog3Tsx7

Just for fun (Humor/Trivia)

Weird History. Follow them on Twitter for your daily dose of the absurd that seemed TOTALLY spot-on at the time.

Why should a brewery start out as an LLC?

June 22, 2012 2 comments
Startup financing cycle

Startup financing cycle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, I got this question late last week and advised a client appropriately, but perhaps it is worth a bit more discussion / generalization. Sorry this post turned out longer than most, but it is all important stuff. So here goes:

You may have seen my article earlier on LLC v Inc, and that is all generally valid. But there’s more to it than that (as you might expect).

As a start up brewery, if you’re looking to limit your liability (and you are) and you looking to raise capital (and you will be), you want to be some sort of business entity other than a General Partnership or a Sole Proprietorship. For the most part that points you to either an “LL” company or a traditional Corporation (Inc.). Unless you’re looking to structure the business as a partnership (which would be… unusual for a brewery), you’re focusing on an LLC or an Inc.

Why an LLC?

  1. Design: An LLC is *designed* to be owned by only a few people and that the interest (i.e. ownership) in the company doesn’t change much. Sounds like a start-up brewery so far. A traditional Inc. uses stock to define ownership and (just like IBM) you can buy/sell or trade stock to change ownership. But, as an owner of an LLC, you’re a Member of the LLC, and membership (so they say) has advantages. As a Member, it is hard for the company to get rid of you and you are guaranteed broad voting rights (for the most part) in the company. The law protects Members and Members’ liability is limited only to what they put into the company (you can’t lose more than you’ve already invested). Sounds pretty good.
  2. Income: Like an S-Corp, an LLC avoids the so-called “double-taxation” problem by letting the income pass through the LLC to you as a Member. That is, you only get taxed on what you get paid by the company, not what the company makes. Big difference. When you’re starting up a brewery, no one expects to make money very quickly, and if they do it’s all going back into the business, right? Well with an LLC, the company doesn’t pay income tax on that money. Sounds pretty good.
  3. Formalities: The threshold for conducting “business formalities” (such as owner meetings, reports, voting, etc) is pretty low AND you get to decide what and how you’ll do it. You define this structure (and the operating structure of the business) in the LLC’s Operating Agreement (works like the By-Laws in a traditional corporation). This agreement says who runs the company, who owns the company, who gets to decide what, and how the company will generally function. “Formalities” sounds like it’s no big deal, it is a big deal. Without adhering to the formalities, a court can decide that your “company” isn’t really a “Company” and that they’re going to ignore the limited liability part of the LLC. That is, you could lose the limitation on liability and that was one of the main reasons why you started a Company to begin with. Formalities, hmmm, generally a pain, but at least the LLC sounds like it makes it as little pain as possible. Sounds… well, it doesn’t sound *bad*.
  4. Employees: Because of the “income” bit above, an LLC is designed so that most of the income goes to the Members and the Members are active in the business. This TOTALLY sounds like a startup brewery. When there’s just a few of you opening a brewery, it’s more than likely that you’ll also be the only employees of the company – at least for a while. Having an LLC really simplifies the taxes, payroll deductions, reporting, and payroll process for getting paid if you’re a Member and not just an employee. Having non-owner employees is a major reason for going with an Inc instead of an LLC. Sounds like that fits too.
  5. Flexibility: This is probably the single biggest reason I advise people to go with an LLC. An LLC gives the Members a tremendous amount of latitude to define how they’ll run the business. You can designate Managers (that run the day-to-day business) as a distinct sub-set of the Members, so you can have folks that are purely investor/owners and not employee/owners. Also, like I said above, you get to write the Operating Agreements (and there aren’t a lot of requirements). You want to have an Official Meeting only every other year? Go for it. You want to only let people from Debuke, Iowa be members? It’s your prerogative. The important bit is that you have some governing document, the content or rules are (more or less) your call. Oh, and all it takes to change those rules? The Members write/adopt a new Operating Agreement – so the rules can change over time as you grow or change strategies. That part sounds really good if you’re a startup.

Ok, that’s the basics. I think these few reasons definately point a startup brewery toward an LLC as a first step (you can always change later). Think about it.

Keep in mind that the above is (1) VERY general and (2) does not constitute legal advice, just some thoughts. You should always consult an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction to make sure that you’re making the right decisions for your business. If you need help in NC, drop us a line at info@jslawcenter.com or check out our website at www.jslawcenter.com

Not Too Big, but Too Many?

June 15, 2012 3 comments
United States microbreweries, regional breweri...

United States microbreweries, regional breweries, and brew pubs per capita by state. Brewery data from the state locator at http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/directories/find-us-brewery. Population data from Wikipedia. National totals: 54 regional craft breweries, 377 microbreweries, 975 brewpubs, for a total of 1406. Highest five per capita are Vermont (29.0 per million), Maine (24.3), Montana (24.0), Oregon (21.6), and Alaska (19.0). Data current as of February 28, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been thinking about the craft beer market lately.

I work with several craft breweries and folks who want to get into the craft beer and beverage industry and I’ve been reading a lot about new breweries opening, new beers out there, and what the latest and greatest “extreme” beer to come down the pike.

“Oh look, a beer that’s higher in alcohol than my favorite bourbon!” or “Wow! I’ve never had a beer dry-hopped with turnips!” (you get the idea).

Also I’ve been drinking since the mid 90’s and I remember the boom/bust of the 1990s brewpub.

And, I’ve read that now we have more breweries in the US than we did pre-prohibition. Which is great. But it makes me wonder… is it too much?

I love craft beer, and I”ll be the first one to order the new beer I’ve never heard of before. And I totally support local beer and local ingredients, etc. I’ve argued that you can’t be too big to be a craft brewery (it’s about the craft, not about the size of your fermenters, at least in my opinion).  But, it seems that everyone with a plastic bucket and a bag of grain is opening up a brewery. Is there enough room in the industry, in the marketplace, for all the players?

I go in the grocery store and its clear that there’s serious politics involved for shelf space in the beer aisle. If you don’t believe me, check out Beer Wars. As we add additional breweries, that’s only going to get more cut-throat.

Now, a key difference between now and the mid-90s is that in the mid-90s a lot of the beer was crap. I’m not pointing any fingers, but a stainless steel pot and a bag of hops, does not a brewer make. At least now, the beer is good. Not all of it is great, but nearly all of it is good.

Making good beer isn’t an option anymore. If you’re not making good beer, you don’t get out of the gate. But, on the other hand, making great beer isn’t a sure thing either. I’ve seen people with great beer not get off the ground because they’ve got other issues working against them (you know, like they’re a jerk or something). You’ve got to make great beer and have your marketing/business strategy straight to stay in the game. Is there a point where there are so many craft breweries that, as an industry, we’re all hurt?

NC is one of the fastest growing beer markets in the world right now, and I love it. But it makes me wonder if this growth curve is sustainable? Are we headed for another brewery shake out or market consolidation? I think the Beer Culture has changed in the last 20 years (good Lord, the mid-90s *WAS* almost 20 years ago!) Do you think that makes a difference?

Categories: Beer, Business Tags: , ,
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