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Based on your personal experiences, where would you say is the best place to start in terms of setting up my own brandy/ port house? I graduated from college this month and got married this past February. Not getting personal, just giving you an idea of how broke I am ;) As a side note, my degree is in Enology so this isn't just a bug up my butt. Basically I am trying to get an idea of how you would do it if you were in my shoes. Set the foundation of the business now and find investors later or seek cash now and tackle the paperwork later?

-Josh

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Josh:

I'm a beginner as well, so grain of salt, but my MBA bias is to always do a first pass at the paperwork first. A business plan can serve either of two purposes (or both): organizing your thoughts, and providing the key tool for raising money both from friends/angel investors and from the bank.

The former, organizing thoughts, is pretty important because there are any number of costs you'll run into that, until you research them and put them down on paper, seem inconsequential. They're not. And you'll identify other key needs you'd likely mentally gloss over unless you go through the process. The latter, raising money, speaks for itself. Unless you're very well connected, people expect that bit of paper when you start talking with them.

In both cases, you don't need to make a novel. The first business plan I wrote was well over 100 pages incomplete; it was worthless. My business plan for our distillery is ten. The ten pager has been lightyears more effective for raising capital and for making us identify what's truly key about our business.

That's not to say, get the paperwork done before anything else. Find a way to make some product in parallel with doing your homework. A sample accompanying your plan transforms you from "someone with an idea" to "that cool distiller guy".

As a tip, a lot of business schools like to set up their MBA candidates with entrepreneurs to work on a business issue. You might find some help getting your research and business plan done (for free!) if you speak to the entrepreneurship profs.

Regards,

Andrew

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Though remember that distilling without a license is a felony. So you don't want to be too cool, chillin' in da Big House. ;)

My business plan (excluding financials) was 27 pages. But I used a good sized font so I could also read it on line. I also had to explain what absinthe was and it's history, so people would know what it was, and know it wasn't a dangerous hallucinogenic alcohol or cause people to go mad.

It pays to check out your states laws on what distilleries are legal and how much they cost in fees. Not all states support micro-distilleries.

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Though remember that distilling without a license is a felony. So you don't want to be too cool, chillin' in da Big House. ;)

My business plan (excluding financials) was 27 pages. But I used a good sized font so I could also read it on line. I also had to explain what absinthe was and it's history, so people would know what it was, and know it wasn't a dangerous hallucinogenic alcohol or cause people to go mad.

It pays to check out your states laws on what distilleries are legal and how much they cost in fees. Not all states support micro-distilleries.

the business plan also serves as a good doc (financials removed) to provide the locals for zoning discussions.

Good Luck!

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Though remember that distilling without a license is a felony. So you don't want to be too cool, chillin' in da Big House.

Yeah. To be clear, look for places that might let you do a little contract distilling or might put you to work for a week in exchange for some still time.

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