“Growing” a Business of Yeast

Last Sunday, I was out at a local coffee shop with two of my favorite high school friends who were visiting town for the holiday weekend. One of my friends brought along her new husband who recently quit his job to break into the craft beer brewing industry.

image33Last time I saw him, he wasn’t quite sure exactly what he wanted to do with craft beer, but this time he had figured it out. “Yeast,” he told me, “I’ve been growing a LOT of yeast.”

For me, I know NOTHING about beer (or yeast for that matter). Being gluten-free, I don’t even drink beer, but after hearing him describe his business idea for growing and selling yeast, I was hooked. My brain gears started turning, and before I realized I was being sort of rude ignoring my friends, I had spouted off half a dozen business ideas for him. (I had to quickly remind myself that no one had asked me for a consulting session!)

Truth be told, it wasn’t the yeast or the beer or any of that which excited me—it was the idea that he could do exactly what he loves to do, engage with a great niche market (who also loves what he does), and create a successful business along the way.

That’s the key though—ENGAGEMENT. These days, to run a successful business, it takes more than just setting up an online store, buying ad placements and crossing your fingers. It’s all about engagement and content.

Your customers, clients or audience want to feel engaged and involved with what you do. They want to learn from you. They want to feel like they’re a part of the experience—as if your business was designed just for them and their unique needs, but also a way for them to feel connected to people just like them. (Disclaimer: This isn’t true for ALL businesses. You probably wouldn’t care to be engaged with your lawyer or CPA, but for a business like this, you definitely would.)

In addition to all the standard business stuff like setting up a website and a shopping cart, here are 20 ideas that I would tell my friend’s husband for engaging his audience, growing his customer base and making money with yeast…

  1. Start a blog with tips, photos, articles, etc about yeast, craft beer and home brewing
  2. Give away free samples of yeast in exchange for testimonials (written or video)
  3. Create short video “documentaries” of local brewers who use his yeast
  4. Launch a “Yeast of the Month” club (with recurring billing)
  5. Feature stories, photos and beers of different home-brewers on the blog
  6. Cultivate hyper-local yeast and name them by the neighborhood/area they came from (For all the Nashville people—this would be like “12 South”, “Belmont”, “Melrose”, “Music Row”, etc)
  7. Organize a local (or national) craft beer tasting contest
  8. Organize a local craft beer group (Meetup.com is a good platform for this)
  9. Create books/ebooks/guides on home-brewing (beginner and/or advanced)
  10. Create video series on home brewing
  11. Create a how-to series to grow your own yeast
  12. Teach a local class or class series on how to home brew or grow your own yeast
  13. Launch a podcast all about home-brewing and feature interviews with craft beer connoisseurs and home brewers
  14. Feature and/or review a craft beer of the week on the blog
  15. Add a resource page to the website that lists everything a person would need to get started home-brewing
  16. Create food combinations for different beers/yeasts and feature recipes on the blog
  17. Have a local service to cultivate yeast in a person’s own backyard
  18. Design a craft beer app that list all the craft beers available in your area (or an app that does any other number of things)
  19. Search online forums (by typing in “Forum: your keyword” into Google and start posting on the forums and answering questions
  20. Ask other online craft beer experts if they will post your website link as a resource for their audience

Of course, I wouldn’t recommend that he do ALL of these thing–just find the one(s) that he likes doing and that he feels would engage his particular audience the best.

Good luck to him with his yeast and good luck to you with your small business!


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