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Are you planning to open a microbrewery?

Microbreweries, or craft breweries as they are sometimes called, are extremely popular in Connecticut. There are dozens upon dozens of microbreweries, brewpubs and contract brewers representing more than $569 million in craft beer revenue. There are more brewing companies in the planning stages, and if you are about to join that group, here are a few items you should have on your to-do list.

Sufficient capital

You will obviously need to have enough money to open this or any other business, so start listing all the different elements surrounding your intended microbrewery to arrive at a reasonable estimate. Experts recommend that you figure on 30 percent more than you think you need - call it contingency cash. Sources for financing include family, friends, investors, banks and even crowd sourcing.

Plan of action

It is essential that you have a plan for your business. Determine the layout of the brewery. Start with simple production goals: offsite distribution versus pub revenue, for example. Connecticut allows small breweries to sell directly to retailers, the results of which should figure into your income goals. Make strategic plans for the first year of business, then for five years out. Remember to figure in your staff needs and marketing requirements. As your business grows, the metrics will become more complex, so it is wise to have a firm foundation starting out.

Back office expertise

You may know how to manage the production side of your craft brewery, b ut you are also going to need back office expertise. Do not entrust this kind of work to just anybody; what you need is a competent bookkeeper, someone who is not only good at accounts payable and receivable, but who will also keep up with compliance and any emerging regulations.

Customer culture

Happiness for the owner of a craft brewery is a loyal customer base. Think about the type of culture you want to establish, the type of customers you want to attract. Culture will evolve from the kind of marketing you do to the employees you hire, to the whole atmosphere of your craft brewery. If the people like what you have to offer, they will come - and your culture will be defined.

Assemble your team

You may already have a partner, perhaps some investors, a few hand-picked advisors who know something about business start-ups and an accountant. When you are planning to open a microbrewery of your own, you will also need an experienced attorney to help with your business plan and ensure that you are in compliance with state laws and regulations.

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