Business Zen: Helping the Lads brew a strategic plan for their business

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Whanganui Chronicle
Russell Bell

There are few things better in my world than helping a new business get off the launching pad. It is exciting to see entrepreneurs young and old turn their passions into viable businesses – particularly when it is easy to see that the business founders have developed something special.

Such is the case for Lads Brewing Company Ltd, who are part of the niche brewing market and brewing something special right here in Whanganui.

I had heard about the “Lads” through word of mouth – the best form of endorsement – and being someone who actively seeks out different beer experiences I was keen to try their product. The brew which I was lucky enough to get my hands (or more specifically taste buds on) was called the Six O’clock Swill Pale Ale which was awesome and I have it on good authority that the Hula Girl Coconut Ale is a taste sensation.

The best aspect of this is that the Lads are four guys with very clear thoughts on their business and even better defined values. This is the bedrock of success with any business, because once that foundation is set the rest of the business is about the quality of execution.

And it is here where getting the planning right in the first instance is crucial. The role I am playing is to make doubly sure that we have all four of the founders on the same page – context is key – and, in addition, we need to also test every idea and concept before it can be included in the plan.

The great thing about the Lads is that they are all pretty clear on the vision which they have for the business and, while this is a bit of a work in progress at the moment, it is clear to me that they know where they are headed and what they want to achieve for themselves and the community. This is a Whanganui brewer through and through, with an appreciation and care for their product which ensures that they set and maintain very high standards.

If you look at the brewing industry and the market as it has developed and evolves, timing of entry and the niche you occupy is crucial to success. There are also brewers who distinguish themselves by ensuring that their product is environmentally-friendly and also others which are backed by massive national players. Common to all, however, is an appreciation of the brewing community and a goal of more than being participants.

A lot of businesses start with a great idea and it is difficult for the market to see the blood, sweat and tears that went into building the business, brand and market. A significant number of start-ups do not make it past the first year, but those that do have a significant thing in common – they have a strategic plan and the founders are all united behind its vision.

So, for me it is an absolute pleasure to sit with Adam, Timoti, Hamiora and Andrew and turn their plan into reality. Apart from being a lot of fun, rewarding work for all and exciting to see the business and plan take shape – they are just really great lads.