Overall this step should take you anywhere from 3 months to 3 years. For me, I spent a little longer in this phase, as I wanted to enjoy meeting people and talking beer. To this day, I continue to research and meet with people. I am always meeting with friends, associates, mentors, people with experience to learn as much as possible. At the end of day, a lot of people could potentially skip this step and move onto phase 2 if you are pretty aware what is happening with craft beer.
- Have the dream: I’m not sure how others get this, but I got it from my family genes. Some people get it from a dead-end job, seeing others follow their passion, or just a need to be an entrepreneur. What
- Make sure your family and friends are supportive of the dream: If these people don’t support your dream, and view it as selfish and a bad decision, then maybe you need to look in the mirror and really take stock of what the hell you are doing. I have probably spent about 5,000 hours of my time on this plan so far, without making a single penny. In fact, this business has cost me thousands of dollars on top of the time. When the brewery finally starts selling beer, I am sure there will not be a lot of money to go around, so I expect to make a very modest wage for several years. If you don’t have friends and family that support you through these tough times, going into this business should be a non-starter.
- Start with the end in mind: In other words, start planning how you are going to make money to live while you embark on this process. As you are likely aware starting a brewery takes a lot of money. Its not like you can quit your job and run at this full time and not make any money in the meantime. Thats something you do when you have a space leased and you are ready to go at this full time.
- Start networking with other people who share the dream: Reason being is you are going to need money and partners. I could not have made it this far without my team supporting and helping fill holes and put out fires. It sounds silly, but a lot of my time is spent working in the business. There needs to be a shift soon after you start selling beer to working on the business, so that you can move towards a successful business.
- Skills analysis: This is a good time to analyze what you know and what you need to learn. What you don’t want to learn, find someone who already knows this or wants to learn. Take courses on accounting, bookkeeping, marketing, sales, get experience, volunteer at other breweries, attend tastings, etc.
- Register your company through BC Online: I wouldn’t worry about the name you will do business as. You can change this later. Our name took years to arrive in our little heads. For now, think about creating the shell of the company you are going to build, and then you can add other stuff like a fancy name, or physical location of the brewery. When we started, I used my home address for everything.
- Register for GST: The reason to do this early on is so that you can write off the tax on items you are going to purchase over this process. To give you an idea, I spent about $5,000 on little bits and pieces before anything really ever started to take shape. The tax on $5,000 is substantial enough that you will want it back. From the date that you register for GST, you can only back date receipts for 30 days, so in other words, you can’t claim GST for time periods longer than this.