On a Mission (Statement)

Back in graduate school (this is where I alienate half of the LA population and half of my potential customer base), I took classes next to a courtyard where USC's business school held a happy hour for students every Thursday night. Though my friends and I regularly crashed these events, we absorbed more free Heineken (sorry, that’s what was on tap) than business knowledge.

Years later, I took a business plan writing class at Pasadena City College and while they didn’t have free beer, they did have something called "visioning."  Visioning is one part critical component of business planning, one part jargony BS.  So let’s go through this Critical BS and see where the Wild Parrot vision stands as of early February 2015.

Despite the BS component, mission statements serve the purpose to define what a company stands for.  They are also the kind of thing that you agonize over, only to realize that the stuff you come up sounds cliche and unoriginal.  While it is debatable whether mission statements are needed at all, I’ve agonized plenty and at this point have yet to concisely define Wild Parrot.  So this is a work in progress.  In a few months, as the vision becomes more clear, we will see if this piece of BS is actually critical.

For a bit of inspiration, here are a few mission statements from well-known breweries:

Allagash Brewing Company - “Hand crafting the best Belgian inspired beers in the world.”

New Belgium Brewing Company - “To manifest our love and talent by crafting our customers' favorite brands and proving business can be a force for good.”

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery - “Off-centered ales for off-centered people.”

As far as Critical BS goes, that’s some high quality stuff.

Goals tend to be less on the BS side since they are more tangible and don’t have the fluffiness of a mission statement.  These three initial goals set up an outline for what type of brewery Wild Parrot will be.  There could easily be a handful more, on topics like sustainability, employee relations and brewing awards, but these are the things that will primarily drive decision making in planning and early years of operation:

  • Develop a line of beers, focusing on lagers, that differentiate Wild Parrot from other breweries in the area.  Lager beers are diverse in type and under-represented in the craft beer market.  Plus they are absolutely delicious.  More about this in a later post.
  • Create a tap room at the brewery that becomes a neighborhood meeting place and loved community establishment.  I want the tap room will be where people first think to go to when they want to hang out, meet up with friends and drink beer (The vision of the tap room will be the subject of a future post as well).  The tap room is also absolutely crucial to a brewery’s revenue.  Speaking of which . . .
  • Be profitable and grow through regional distribution.  This will be a production brewery (as opposed to a brewpub) and while initially the beer will only be available locally, growth is the plan.  Profitability also means that I need to get paid a salary.  

For these goals to be accomplished, the beer needs to be good, people must be aware of the brand and the business needs to be solid.  That’s about as fundamental as it gets, but for a guy who has NO PROFESSIONAL BREWING EXPERIENCE, fundamental is a great starting place.