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5 Things To Know Before Getting Into The Business Of Meadery Be adaptable to a changing situation but don't forget you're in this for the long run

By Rohan Rehani

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Meads are coming full circle – and how! The preferred (and probably at one time, only) alcoholic drink of the ancients is now making a comeback internationally and even here in India. Made by fermenting honey and water using yeast, the beverage is slowly becoming a part of the regular vocabulary, something that is aided by being referenced in popular culture, including Game of Thrones and Harry Potter. According to the American Mead Makers Association, in 2017, a new meadery opened up every three days in the United States and every seven days across the globe.

If the idea of creating and sharing good mead sounds delicious to you, then here are five tips to keep in mind before you put your money where your honey jar is:

Be(e) patient and have a sense of humour: These two will be your support during the most trying of times. They'll come in handy whether you are just starting to seek investments for your venture, or when you go through processes for months to get your license. With a laptop powered by a good battery and some books on your phone, even the longest waits outside government offices can be productive and maybe even enjoyable. It goes without saying that a sense of humour helps you through a lot – the good times and the challenging ones.

Budget Multiplication Factor: Have you ever read those business books and articles that advise you to overinvest time on a budget? They're correct, but there's more. You should indeed take the time, create your budget and then multiply it by 3! The best-laid plans go to pieces when reality hits (trust me, that's experience speaking). There will likely be times where you wish that your budgets were double of what you planned, but with some foresight and forethought, things should work out just fine. Try to maximise your budgets as much as you can and always leave a contingency amount over and above your budgetary planning.

Get your hands dirty: The best way to learn how to do something is to actually do it. When you embark on such a journey, many a well-wisher will recommend numerous experts or people with specialized training to make things easier. While it is important to identify the right expertise, it is also imperative to learn the ropes yourself. Internships lend insight into the processes involved, and beyond knowledge, they lend an appreciation for the art of making mead. This need not extend to just production but also to multiple areas of the fledgeling business including paperwork. Relationships built at the start of your journey go a long way.

Build a team you can hang out with: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – and dull is definitely not what you'd want your workplace to be. Whether your team is small or big, it pays to have one where everyone is aligned in a shared determination for organic growth. Flat organisational structures where everyone brings something to the table. This will allow you to identify everyone's aspirations and targets for personal growth and work towards these together. A startup, especially in this industry, can be one crazy rollercoaster ride. Make sure you have the right company for it and also for those days when you need to take a break or switch off for a couple of hours. That is when your team dynamics are truly concretised.

People will continue to ask you about top-line growth, start worrying about the bottom line: In this VC age where everyone is worried about valuations and top-line growth, there's one pretty reliable way to approach business from that time-tested, old-school business mentality – don't lose money. It literally pays to ensure that all your decisions are rooted in the philosophy of reaching positive unit economics. Don't rush into unsustainable, breakneck growth with major burn rates. Be adaptable to a changing situation but don't forget you're in this for the long run. Set short, medium and long-term objectives and review your progress frequently.
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