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Investing in Craft Brewing: Money Plus Values Returns

20 May 2018 1:09 PM | Karl Dakin (Administrator)

In making a decision to invest in a craft brewing business, you should ask yourself does the craft brewing business share your values?  Does it conduct itself in a way that makes you proud?  Does it contribute to the world and make it a better place?  The alternative is that the business does nothing.  Worse yet, the craft brewing business may be an extractive business that only focuses on making money to the detriment of its team, its suppliers, its community and its customers.

An investment in most craft brewing businesses will not make you rich, so what else can they offer you?  One thing a craft brewing business can do is take action to care about selected people, your community or any other cause in which you believe.  You can make a condition of your investment a requirement that the craft brewing business will adopt a policy, implement a course of conduct or take action.  If the business does not agree to your terms, there are other places for you to invest your money.

Whether the craft brewing business has 3, 30 or 300 employees, it can be a force for good.  By its actions, it can set the bar higher in making life better for its team.  In the same way that you can choose who you invest in, a craft brewing business can decide where it spends its money.  Think of the craft brewing business as a force multiplier.  You are one person.  All of the people who work for or with the craft brewing business are an army.  By working together, you have the ability to more efficiently achieve common goals.

So what can a craft brewing business do?  It can (this is a very short sample list):

  • Pay wages equally for men and women
  • Set aside a percentage of its revenue to go to one or more charities
  • Sponsor the local high school robotics team
  • Conduct a fitness and weight management program for its team
  • Helps formulate best practices within the craft beer industry
  • Validates that its suppliers are meeting or exceeding its own standards
  • Reduce its water consumption
  • Provide a meeting room for community organizations
  • ______________ (fill in the blank)

When talking with the owners of a prospective investment opportunity, ask the hard questions.  Do not assume that your investment will make you proud.  Don’t accept written policies as an accomplishment.  Ask about how the policies will be enforced.  Ask about how the conduct of the company will be reported to you after you make an investment.  The achievement of your values is one form of payback of your investment.  Look for information and systems that will give you as good of a picture on how the business acts as it may provide on how much profit it has earned.

Quite often, a small business lacks the time and money to do everything you want.  In these situations, you have an opportunity to make an investment of your time in addition to an investment of your money.  You can:

  • Research best practices
  • Draft policies, operating procedures or other guidelines for conduct
  • Chair a group of investors to work on a specific project
  • Solicit input from the community and other customers
  • Review requests for charitable contributions
  • Organize a company picnic or event
  • Judge and reward individual performance for recognition and bonuses
  • Help measure conduct

Simply making an investment and looking for a distribution is missing a great opportunity.  Get your investment to work harder for you for things you care about.

Karl Dakin, Executive Director

Brewing Investors Guild

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