Putting together a hard cider business plan is a huge step you’ve given serious thought. You enjoy the biochemical process and challenge of turning raw, inedible apples and unprocessed juice into a finished product for people to enjoy your unique creations. It gives us a thrill, and it does the same for you, too.
We believe this article will help you put together a plan you’ll be confident in to help you solidify your dreams into reality. It’s not easy. Than again, nothing worth having ever is. “Blood, sweat, and tears” will be your new motto and when you come out on the other end having survived you’ll look back and reminisce about how much fun you had during the process on your rise to the cream of the apple crop in the cider industry.
Visit our website for your research purposes and purchase a few cans of “Blake’s Very Own” while you’re at it (smiles).
Get ready to roll up your sleeves, grab a pen and paper, and layout the blueprint for the future of your hard cider business!
The Foundations of a Hard Cider Company Business Plan
Objectives – Mission – Keys to Success
Company Ownership – Company Locations and Facilities
PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Product and Service Description – Competitive Comparison – Fulfillment – Technology – Future Products and Service
MARKET ANALYSIS SUMMARY
Target Market Segment Strategy (market needs, trends, and growth) – Service Business Analysis (Who are your business participants? What are your Distribution patterns? Who is your closest competition? What are their buying patterns?) – Market Segmentation
STRATEGIES AND IMPLEMENTATION SUMMARY
Value Proposition – Competitive Edge – Market Strategy (positioning statements, pricing strategy, promotion strategy, distribution strategy, marketing programs) – Sales Strategy (sales forecast and programs)
Organizational Structure – Management Team (important assumptions, projected profit and loss) – Management Team Gaps
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THE MASTER KEY TO SUCCESS
This hard apple cidery business plan outline is by no means conclusive, but what it gives you are a few solid ideas to on which we personally built our hard cider division to help you organize your plan in a cohesive manner.
Without a plan no banker, creditor, loaner, or any other potential financial backer will take you or your business idea seriously and will laugh you right out of their office doors. Most likely you’re going to need investors to help you get started and a plan shows that you know the direction you intend to go in your business. A sense of direction is a badge of comfort for potential investors.
People partner with people, not to gamble on your dream to one day be a cider producer, but to make their investment back plus a nice return. It being your dream is YOUR icing on the cake. For the average investor it’s about the bottom-line and their faith in your ability to follow-through on your passion And if you can help potential investors to ‘see’ the dream, “see” the numbers with as little risk on their end as possible, investors will line up in a buying frenzy to give you money.
But it ALL begins with a PLAN of ACTION!
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Q & A SESSION WITH “THE BLAKE FAMILY”
(TOP SECRET HARD CIDER START-UP ADVICE)
How Do I Get Started?
If you want to be a cider maker starting your own cider company, first things first, hit the pavement and conversate with as many people as you humanely can who are in or close to the industry.
Secondly, if you don’t know how to make cider (you enjoy Blake’s Hard Cider so much you have ideas of your own you’d like to try) than you need to learn the basics. There are several good books and tutorial classes, two we recommend are Lea’s “Craft Cidermaking” and Ben Watson’s “Cider, Hard and Sweet: History, Traditions.
Third, do an apprenticeship or work for a season at a cidery. Soak up all the information you can like a sponge and make it a priority to learn from the ones in charge of day-to-day operations. Seek to have someone take you under their wing and be forthcoming about your intentions to start your own cidery company one day. If you think this will feel threatening. Don’t. Cider producers like ourselves are too busy and focused on our own business to care much what goes on in someone else’s. Besides, it’s a bit of an ego boost for someone to want to learn the in’s and out’s of our business and to want us to teach them. Don’t be afraid to ask, you just may get a “Yes”.
Above all, the easiest way to get started is to simply “get started”. We’re not being tongue in cheek. We know from experience that experience IS the best teacher. Don’t be afraid of fumbling the ball, making mistakes, and adjusting along the way.
What Is The SINGLE Most Important Thing To Remember?
NEVER compromise on quality. Ever. Focus on quality over quantity and the quantity will match it’s quality. Your average cider drinker could care less about your personal ambitions. All they care about is a pleasurable drinking experience. Give people what they want and you’ll get what you want.
What’s A Typical Day Like In Blake’s World?
Because our business changes constantly with the seasons, the job roles for each of our employees is one thing in the fall, another in the summer and another entirely during the winter.
Washing. A whole lot of washing. Yea. You’ll be doing plenty of it. Washing preserves the quality of your cider and can literally alter the taste of your product in a very negative way. You’re also sorting bad apples out the bunch.
If you’re growing your own orchard, you’ll be spending a bit of time grafting new tree’s mechanically and by hand.
Another factor is bottling the product and marketing. Social media. Word of mouth. Sending out sales reps to different areas in the state/out-of-state to help move inventory. And doing tastings several nights a week to generate buzz and sell product.
If by now you haven’t figured out that a partner is generally the standard in this business, now you know.
What’s the BEST Part of the Job?
Observing and analyzing the various changes to our crop is fascinating. Occasionally, we may not be able to offer a particular cider because the same yield from a previous year has changed in it’s biochemical make-up which would alter the taste entirely. From this we could actually create an entirely new cider for the public to fall in love with.
But what brings us most joy is the smell of fresh apples waiting to be pressed or hulled away for processing on a beautiful, autumn day. It reminds us all as children the fresh candied apple, sweet apple cider, home baked glazed donuts and a hayride through a pumpkin patch. This experience alone makes the hard work worthwhile because at the core, we simply want others to have the same experience we’re privileged to live in our day-to-day lives.
What’s the WORST Part of the Job?
Okay. Fine. If you have to ask. Keeping records is a tedious process. Regulatory requirements (permits and licensing). The occasional seasonal bad crop that hits without warning. That’s about the gist of it. It’s never pleasant dealing with these issues but it’s a relatively small price to pay to do what you love waking up to do every morning.
Are There Any Industry Misconceptions?
The hard cider industry as a whole is an extremely small niche market. So small that being a cider maker is considered an ‘alternative’ career path in regards to the US wine and beer markets. When the average person hear “brewmaster” they think “beer!”. When they hear “winemaker” they think “wine!”. But when you hear “cidermaker” it’s generally viewed as a basement hobby, not a serious profession. In a few years the title “Cider Maker” will be synonymous with more established industries. Until then, have your elevator pitch prepared.
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Come by and visit us in our neck of the woods and sample a few of Michigan’s best at 17985 Armada Center Rd. Armada, MI 48005, give us a call at 586-784-9463 or shoot us an email at email@example.com for questions or inquiries about the sale of our business assets.
You can also visit us at Blake’s Hard Cider to learn more about our latest products and exciting upcoming events. Lastly, you can find us on Kroger and Meijer’s store shelves in Michigan, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, and Wisconsin (so far). We are quickly growing and expanding our distribution to other nearby states so check with your local grocery and liquor store chain to see if we’re in your area.