Meanwhile, late a night Glen broods about his future....
Hmmm. What can I do to make a living? Let’s see. Gotta be nine to five and the pay has got to be great...
Jeez, that means I’ll have to get an actual job! That sucks. Wouldn’t want to waste my days working. Hmmm. anything else?
Wait! I know, I’ll start my own business! Let’s see... Be my own boss. Do what I like... Sounds perfect. But, what kinda business could I start? Corner store? Na. Too boring. Gas station. No, cars are going outta style. Amway? Possibly...
Hey! I like to drink! I know how to make some moonshine - I know! I’ll start a distillery! That’s a great idea. I can’t wait to get started! How hard could it be?
Hmm, How much money is in the old investment account? I’ll clean that out first as my seed money. I’ve made millions in the TV biz, so that should be OK...
Type. Type. Type. Hmmmm. Type. Type.
‘Your balance in your investment account is: $437.94.”
OK let’s see what’s in the ‘ol current account.
Type. Type. Type.
Alright then, my working capital $541.48. Although, once I subtract the mortgage, car and other essential living expenses, that should leave me with about $-6547.96 in my account.
Good times. Good times.
Well, that doesn’t look too good.
Oh well, no worries. Let’s do some research here and see about what’s up with getting this off the ground. Let’s see... I’ll just surf over to alibaba here. Hey look! I can get a still for 2K USD. Gee that doesn't sound too bad... I could build a whole distillery for the price of a used pick up truck.
Cool. Although, it does seem a little too good to be true, I wonder what the catch is? Perhaps some more research is required...
Five months later...
Man I wish I hadn’t written this business plan, it sure is depressing. No matter how I push the numbers around, it looks like it going to cost way more than a pick up truck, new or used by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Shit.
Hey what’s this? I need to rezone my property before I do anything else?
Eight months later...
Man, am I ever gonna get through this process? Sigh. Fucking neighbors.
Why did I decide to start a distillery again? Could someone please remind me?
Fame, fortune, lifestyle, great whisky, a better gin... you were looking for something different to do, remember?
Oh yeah, right. Thanks.
Without question, alcohol is a business of patience.
So, clearly, the question is, considering the daunting odds why would you bother? Also with more distilleries going out of business and a crowded market, doesn’t that make it harder?
Consider the story of two competing coffee companies I know. This is a true story unfolding even as I write.
They both started at the same time. They both bought the same equipment and they both were equally geographically challenged.
Company One struggled from the beginning because almost immediately they felt overwhelmed by the market and they always felt they weren't making money and ultimately, they had missed the coffee boom. Eventually, they sold their coffee machine and their company and went in a different direction.
Meanwhile Company Two, clearly understood that in the modern era, something like coffee would never pass today’s tough food guidelines and, even better - was an addictive substance. Also, who the hell would drink bitter bean juice? They clearly realized, the key to success was to simply sell a (or their idea of) a better bitter bean juice. Simple really.
They were recently bought out for 214 million dollars. All of this in a terribly over saturated North American coffee market dominated by big brands.
The moral of the story is whether or not you are rich or bootstrapping - the eager distiller should not be scared by the idea that they’ve missed the boat. There are billions of people in the world. Nobody can produce enough of anything edible to meet demand. The trick is, can you produce something people want?
Why do they want it? It it better? A cleverer story? Geographical placement?
In the case of the coffee companies, a geographically bad location made (well one of them anyway) work harder to get their ‘better’ products out and as a result, built a wider market faster.
I’ve found that by going through the rezoning process, an interesting thing happened. People began to follow the story as it periodically appeared in the local newspaper. People were both for and against it. Everywhere we went people would ask us about it.
Eventually, we realized this was the very market we were seeking to create. We now have a clear sense of how much product we might sell when we open the doors. In fact, I can’t believe how much people are interested in alcohol.
And of course, I’ve realized I’m woefully underfunded and under equipped.
‘Course you knew that. And really, so did I after checked the accounts at the beginning.
So if everything is so hard and jaw droppingly expensive and difficult to achieve and make a profit, why proceed?
Because, here in BC Canada (at least for now), you can make a profit in this business if you work at it. As really in any business, if you are financially prudent, run a tight ship and ultimately, make sales.
But more importantly, because others won’t.
They’ll dream. They’ll make some home made hootch. And, they’ll happily tell you how to run your place better. But they won’t have it in them to actually run the gauntlet and take the risk. Yet, with over a billion people in North America alone there will never be enough brewers, wine makers or distillers.
Those who do make it through and can build their customer base always have the potential to do well. As my old fishing skipper told me as advice when I was young:
“Sell something people want more of.”
Empty bank accounts and no plan B? Awesome. Count me in.