There are several business opportunities available to any serious-minded entrepreneur who has the financial capacity, and one of the businesses that you can conveniently start in any part of the world that already has an existing market is a distillery that is into the production of an alcohol brand (vodka or spirit).

What is a Distillery?

A distillery is a depot or place where spirit (alcohol/liquor) is produced in commercial quantities. Although there are various brands of spirit or vodka in the market, but if you are creative with your branding and packaging, you will surely attract your own market. Aside from the flavor and packaging, there is really no difference in the various brands of spirit in the market.

Depending on your financial capacity, you can successfully start a distillery with moderate capital. The amount required to start a craft distillery can vary based on how quickly you are looking to grow, but $3 to $5M is the average.

It can be challenging starting a distillery if you don’t have prior experience in this line of business, but if you are hardworking and you are willing to learn, you will surely move your business forward. The profit you stand to gain from this type of business is largely dependent on your marketing and sales strategies.

Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 150 registered and licensed distillery plants responsible for employing about 1,947, and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $3 billion annually with a growth projection of about 5.3 percent.

The distilleries industry growth over the last five years can largely be attributed to the creativity and innovation in the industry. Distilleries are expected to continue to experience steady growth over the next five years. Of course, the growth will be supported to a large extent by the continued preference for premium spirits and whiskey-based cocktails.

The increase in sales will translate into much higher profit margins for the distillery industry. Now let us quickly consider 7 steps to follow if you want to start your own alcohol brand (vodka or spirit) from the scratch and then build it to profitability within the shortest time frame.

7 Steps to Starting Your Own Alcohol Brand (Vodka or Spirit)

  1. Conduct Your Feasibility Studies

One of the first steps to take if you want to start any business is to conduct your own feasibility studies. You would need to get first-hand information about the business you intend to start if you truly want to make a success out of it.

When conducting feasibility studies, ensure that you gather the information that will help you properly analyze your strength, your weakness, your opportunities, and the threat you stand to face with such business and of course how to source raw material and all the licenses and permits needed to fully launch your alcohol brand.

  1. Write Your Business Plan

If you are able to effectively conduct a feasibility study, it will make it easier for you to write a good business plan because most of the facts and statistics you need when writing your business plan would have been gathered. Your business plan should not just be a business document that you have in place when you want to start a business, but a blueprint that must guide all your business actions and inactions.

Please note that every business plan requires an executive summary, the executive summary is where you are expected to state the aim of your alcohol business, your sales and marketing strategies, your marketing goals, your target market, and perhaps what stands you out from your competitors. You are also expected to state your company’s vision statement, objectives, and the niches you intend to specialize in.

Your business plan would also need to analyze the market size and shares, and projected room for growth for your business. Other things to include are the size of the distillery you intend to start with, the number of staff you are likely to employ, and if you would get an in-house maintenance crew or contract the maintenance services out.

If, however, you feel that writing a business plan would be cumbersome for you; you can engage the services of a business consultant that can help you write the business plan. However, you can also download an alcohol brand business plan template online and use that to draft something.

  1. Register Your Business and Obtain the Necessary License and Permit

Once you are done with writing your business plan, the next step you should take if you want to legalize your business is to choose a business name and then approach the secretary of your state to register the business name. The nature of the business you are about starting requires that you obtain special permits and a business license before you can be allowed to start production.

As a matter of fact, your distillery will first be inspected by the relevant authorities before you can be issued a license. It must meet the required health and safety standard first.

  1. Lease a Facility for Your Business

You would need a decent facility for your distillery. Please note that your facility will first be inspected by both health officials from the state department of food and drugs and also by officials from the fire department before you can be issued a permit to start operations. So ensure that your facility is in tip top shape before initiating the process of obtaining your license and permit.

Please note that when looking for a location, you should follow the zoning requirements because most states and counties have restrictions against distilleries within certain zones. These laws don’t just vary by state, they vary by city and specific plot of land.

For example, some parcels of land are specifically zoned for hospital or medical center use, and others are zoned for residential homes, retail centers, or other purposes. Please note that some zoning regulations are determined at the federal level.

It is very advisable you check for a city handbook with zoning laws. It will tell you where you can establish your distillery, and give specific rules on what counts. Call the city zoning office to check on your particular property.

  1. Hire Competent Staff

Aside from the production and administrative staff that you would need to kick start your alcohol business, you also need a competent sales team that can help you break into the already saturated vodka or spirit (alcohol, gin, champagne) market.

If you don’t have an existing HR structure in place, you can contract your first recruitment to recruitment agencies. Please note that in order to get it right as regards hiring employees, then you should ensure that you stay on the side of the law.

Here are some steps you should follow if you intend to start your alcohol business in the United States; verify that new employees are able to work in the US, report employees as “new hires” to the State, provide workers’ compensation insurance for employees, withhold employee taxes and print compliance posters and place them in visible areas of your workspace et al.

Lastly, ensure that you find out more information from your State Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation website.

  1. Pay Attention to Your Branding and Product Packaging

No doubt coming into this type of industry as a newbie is not an easy task. You are expected to hire experts to help you with your branding and product packing if indeed you want to successfully compete with the existing giant players in the market. If you conduct a thorough feasibility study and market survey, you will be able to discover the easiest means of penetrating the market with your products.

  1. Market Your Alcohol Brand

The only way you can make money from your business is to market your products to those who need them and are willing to pay for them. Your marketing strategy will go a long way to determine the income you will generate so ensure that you go all out to make noise about your product.

There may be other alcohol brands in the market but if you are smart, you can easily sell your own product and get people to truly crave for it. Just ensure that you have the right branding, packaging, and flavor and you will struggle less to make sales.

Starting an alcohol (vodka or spirit) business is not entirely easy, but the truth is that if you are determined and hardworking, you will sure make huge returns from your business and your products can become the most preferred in and around your city or country.

Joy Nwokoro