Fail to Plan? You're Planning to Fail...

OK I'll admit I'm stabbing in the dark on this one.  My sum total business planning acumen come from the results of a Google search on "how to start a small business."  But I am a thinker, and so is Rayna, so we both know a small business needs some organization.  To that end, after a weekend of touring the finest coffee shops in Bozeman, Montana, here's where we're going to start.  And by the way, I apologize in advance for the boring details; I wouldn't bother, except that these 5 areas are going to guide the content of this blog in the future, so they're worth laying out right from the get-go.

Product  Rayna's in charge of this one. She's light years ahead of me as a roaster, and getting better in leaps and bounds.  She's been home-roasting for a while now, but recently went to coffee-roaster school at Mill City Roasters, and is chomping at the bit for her new roaster to arrive.

Facilities/Equipment  Speaking of new equipment, I'm in charge of all that, partly because I'm a terrible roaster, and partly because I like fiddling with new stuff.  The basic plan is to set up a small roastery (more on that below) with the main roasting done on the 2kg roaster from Mill City, and sample roasting on the super-fun little FreshRoast SR700  (I say fun because it's controllable via computer; and anything that hooks up to a computer is better IMHO). 
Legal/Compliance  I'm also heading this up, and it's been a great learning experience for me.  My current emphasis is to get our roastery set up as an official, fully licensed manufacturing facility.  There are a myriad of government agencies dedicated to ensuring a safe food supply and honest business dealings: federal  (FDA), state (DPHHS, Sec. of State), county (County Health), and city (Helena Building Division, City Business Licensing); I'm thankful to live in a country where the government cares about the food supply, so I appreciate the time I've spent working with these folks even if it's not always the most exciting part of the journey.
Finances  Rayna's in charge of this one. She's been managing our various financial interests for years, and honestly I can't think of anyone I'd trust more with finances.  If she weren't so busy roasting coffee I'd recommend you hire her as a financial consultant!  We're going with the usual separation of concerns.  Nothing fancy, just an LLC, separate bank account, charge card, and accounting software. It's actually simple to set up a small business these days; Maybe I'll do a post on this sometime for anyone interested in the financial side of small businesses.  There are some amazing online tools out there that are changing the game for small businesses.

Sales/Marketing  This one's on me.  The plan is to sell mostly locally and online.  I've been getting a kick out of setting up a website and playing around with branding, and we're getting close to a working brand. (Let me know which of these two logos you like better; even better, give me a suggestion for something you'd change to improve them!)

 

So that's where we're headed!  It may be a bit silly to have this all laid out so specifically right from the get-go; but Rayna and I know each other enough to know that if we don't have a clear separation of responsibilities, we'll spend all our time arguing about who's in charge instead of roasting delicious coffee!  We're both super excited about the journey, and I'm excited to chronicle the journey here for you all.  If you're particularly interested to hear more about any of the areas I've outlined, just drop me a line in the comments and I'll elaborate more on that topic in a future blog.  Until then, drink great coffee and go do something amazing!