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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).

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?

Why don’t small breweries get a lawyer?

April 20, 2012 2 comments

I just responded to an email about breweries and lawyers. Trying to develop a niche practice in serving the craft beer industry is tough and I thought about why that is. I believe craft beer (whether brewing, distributing, or serving) people often don’t consult an attorney because either

  1. “I can handle all this stuff myself. If I ever need to trademark something, then I’ll get a lawyer.” OR
  2. “All lawyers do is make things more complicated and cost money. Why should I pay for them to get in my way.” OR
  3. “I think I need some help here, but I can’t afford one, so I guess I’ll go it alone anyway.”

I’ve been working with the NC Brewers Guild to try and educate brewers and the support industries (who are also largely small or Mom & Pop shops) about how attorneys can actually make things easier and protect you from future issues.

I also spend a good deal of time counseling people on the concept that an attorney – a good attorney - is one that will work with you on your business. Someone that’s interested in seeing your business grow and helping to manage your risks before they become problems. I can only speak for myself, but I want to help you make things less complicated. Make things easier now *and* in the future. I really feel that’s a critical role for a lawyer.

Thinking that you “can handle” all the aspects of your business by yourself is just silly. You may know more about your body than anyone else, but that doesn’t mean that you should perform your own gall bladder surgery. The same applies with brewing equipment, accounting, and legal issues. If you don’t have special training or expertise in the area, get some help.

Also, thinking that you can’t afford an attorney is also not right. If you’re concerned about that, talk about it with your attorney. More than likely, they’ll work with you to come up with a plan that fits your needs and budget. No one wants to see you or your company struggle because of a legal issue or not get help when you need it.

What have been your experiences with this? If you’re a brewer/brewery/bar why don’t you get a lawyer involved?

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