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First year numbers - help!

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Hi Everyone,

We've been working hard to develop our business plan to show investors or the bank (we'll need money very soon), but we're having trouble nailing down a realistic number for bottle sales in the first year. I know there's a lot of variation depending on what you sell and where you are, so I'm not looking for that as an answer. I'm just wondering if anyone is willing to share their actual numbers of how they did and what their situation was. Below are our details.

Located in Lake George, NY. A very popular tourist destination and only 30 minutes from Saratoga.

We will launch with Vodka, Flavored Vodkas, Moonshine and Gin.

We will be releasing young whiskey later in the year

We have a tasting room on site

We have a distributor lined up with a signed commitment letter in western NY.

My questions are:

What did you do for first yr sales out of the tasting room?

Through a distributor?

Through self distribution (selling yourself to local bars, liquor stores and restaurants)?

How were sales of t-shirts, hats, glasses, etc?

I realize your situation may be different from mine, I'm just looking for some real numbers from real distilleries. Feel free to personal message me if you don't want to post it to the public.

Thank you all!

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My best suggestion as far as sales projections for your first year is to aim low, it doesn't hurt to be conservative. Then if you exceed expected sales your investors will be ecstatic. Either way you will want at least a year's worth of operational reserves to keep the doors open (we raised 2 years worth) while your product gets into the market. It won't be instant sales, it will take time for the brand to grow. It's this initial growing time that sinks most unsuccessful distilleries because they are undercapitalized and can't keep their heads above water long enough for their sales to pick up. Some people are indeed successful and sell hand over fist from the start but most people sell very little their first or even second year. My suggestion is to put together a 3-5 year outlook for your investors showing expected sales (increasing yearly) along with all expenses. Show them you've thought it through and that your business can be profitable using your model. Remember, distilleries are a high risk investment since they have a high turn over rate, investors are going to look for security in their investment almost as much as the money they are going to get out of it. Remember if you promise people $1.00 and you give them $1.01 you are god, if you give them $0.99 you are the devil.

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