Brewing up a Business Plan

The other weekend I visited a micro-brewery not too far away from where I live.


I went down to the Steam Machine Brewing Company in Newton Aycliffe with a couple of friends, and had a great afternoon just hanging out in their brew room and trying their excellent craft beer.


Considering the brewery is located in the middle of a private industrial estate – and it was a freezing February day – the brew room was absolutely packed and doing better business than a lot of pubs in town.


Plus, they’ve recently had to move to larger premises in order to accommodate more customers.


It’s impressive really, considering less than two years ago they didn’t exist and seem to have become well known through word-of-mouth.


It sounds almost too good to be true, but for Steam Machine’s owners – Nick and Gulen, the business is a real labour of love and the product of hard work.


They didn’t come from another brewery or buy into an existing franchise, so all their brewing acumen comes self-taught or from doing intensive courses on the brewing process.


Nick also gave up a career in teaching in order to follow the dream, so it shows bravery too.


However, all of this didn’t come from nowhere.


By reading the local press, it sounds like Nick and Gulen had an excellent business plan in place. They saw a gap in the market, did their market research, and developed a unique selling point (USP).


They engaged with customers on social media to see what the market looked like and where their products would fit in. Through that, they saw that they had a lot of enquiries coming from further away.


Delivering beer to more remote locations proves expensive due to the cost of returning empty casks.


After some research, they came up with recyclable beer kegs to cut out the cost of those returns.


Clever stuff, and it ended up catching the eye of a high profile backer. The Steam Machine received £15,000 worth of funding from Virgin StartUp, and Nick personally introduced his beers to Sir Richard Branson.


The rest, it seems, is history.


But even with a good idea in mind, where do you start with a business plan?


Our guide to writing a business plan also comes with an example template to show exactly what’s needed.


Here it is: