I know most wineries, and almost all small businesses start off without a written business plan. Truth is our initial plan consisted of a lot of excel spreadsheets, a business plan template with my hand written modifications scribbled in and my memory. I had it all pulled together in a small blue binder. To anyone but me and Stefania it probably looked like a scrapbook.
We knew enough though to break the plan out into phases. This would let us focus on smaller goals while still keeping the longer ones in focus. It would also guide us on choices we made, acting as a road map to make sure things we were doing matched our short term goals and supported our longer term ones.
Here's what our original phases, time lines and goals looked like:
Phase I – Original Projection 2005-2012
In Phase I of our business plan our key success criteria were: Establish a brand, grow our mail order customer list to 500 names, secure long term vineyard sources, make high quality wine, achieve high customer loyalty and satisfaction, start distribution sales and reach a cash flow positive state at a production level of 600-800 cases per year.
Phase II – Original Projection 2012-2019
In Phase II of our business plan our key objectives are: Move into a dedicated urban facility, handle 100% of our own production, grow our mailing list to 1500 names, establish a wine club and grow it to 200+ names, expand our restaurant and retail presence to 100+ locations and maintain a cash flow positive state and profitability at a production level of 1200-2000 cases per year.
Phase III – Original Projection 2015-
In Phase III of our business plan our key objectives are: Purchase and plant an Estate Vineyard in the Uvas Valley/Uvas Canyon area of the Santa Cruz Mountains with a total property size of not less than 30 acres and a vineyard size of 8-12 acres. Bring that vineyard to bearing by 2019 and build an Estate Winery with a tasting room and event hosting facilities by 2019. Maintain profitability at a production level of 3000-5000 cases.
I'm busy working on a revision now because we feel that we'll met all the goals we laid out for Phase I in 2010. We're laying out the ground work and plan for Phase II and seeing if it is possible to move the time line up by a year. The small blue binder has been scrapped for a 50+ page document complete with financial forecasts, budget projects, marketing plans and 100's of other details.
We've started to meet with bankers and sought out advise on attracting investors to help fund the next round of expansion. We think we have a solid plan and a good story to tell. It reminds me though of two quotes from two different CEO's I've worked for. Quote #1; "Now it's about executing flawlessly". Quote #2; "The most important quarter of your life is this one". I think both sum up exactly where we are at.