Owning your own bar or brewpub is a dream shared by many people. With over 6,300 craft brewers in the United States, the possibility of becoming a craft brewer is increasing. However, you don’t have to become a small business owner or brewmeister in order to enjoy the privileges of ownership.
Changes in federal and state laws now make it possible for ordinary people (non-accredited investors) to invest in a craft brewing business in small dollar amounts through investment crowdfunding.
So, if you invest money, but you are not the business manager, what does ownership look like?
Let’s start with the benefits. Every craft brewing business is different and so the benefits you may receive may vary greatly. However, good craft beer may be expected. As an owner, you may get price discounts, participate in beer tastings and attend beer festivals. All of these include enjoying craft beer. And let’s not forget that part of every beer tab may come back to you in the form of distribution of revenues or profits.
So, what do you need to become an owner? First, you have to find a craft brewing business that is interested in sharing ownership with a large number of people. Second, you have to write a check. However, investing is not enough. If all you are looking for is a return on investment, you can simply buy stock in one of the major brewing companies. Ownership in a craft brewing business can be so much more.
Your ability to help your craft brewing business succeed will depend upon your knowledge and experience in operating a small business.
Everyone can provide customer feedback. Business management needs the ‘voice of the customer’ on the quality of their products, services, communications, and reputation in the community. This includes beer tasting.
You can be an ambassador for the craft brewing business. You can share hosting duties by greeting guests and helping them make beer selections. More beer tasting. You can share news about the craft brewing business within your personal and business networks. You can be another set of eyes and ears for what’s happening in the pub and in your community.
You can support sales by encouraging people to come to the pub, order beers by brand name at local restaurants and buy beer at retail stores.
With training, you can elevate your value. You can learn how to run a craft brewing business. This may include brewing or distributing beer, customer relations, regulatory compliance or general skills common to any small business.
You may choose to add more hats. In addition to being a customer and an investor, you may formally become a member of the board of advisors or a sales affiliate.
However you support your craft brewing business, you will become a member of its tribe. You will meet new people, develop new relationships and enjoy craft beer. A dream in which we now can all participate.
Karl Dakin, Executive Director
Brewing Investors Guild