Black-owned wine brands have become increasingly popular in recent years. From coast to coast there are Black vintners diversifying the wine industry. Like any entrepreneurial venture, starting a winery takes serious work. But Black winemakers don’t want young entrepreneurs to get discouraged about pursuing their dreams. They say early career entrepreneurs can get help from a community of professionals in their field, whether it be through joining a professional networking organization or seeking out mentorship on LinkedIn.
According to Andréa McBride John, who co-founded McBride Sisters Wine Company alongside her sister Robin in 2005, running a business is far from easy. “Being an entrepreneur is not light work. It’s incredibly challenging and you’re going to need people that have done it before and can advise you correctly,” she told me. But learning from experts isn’t the only way to become a successful entrepreneur. I spoke with winemakers Andréa McBride John and Phil Long about advice they have for young entrepreneurs.
Understand The Value You Bring To Consumers
Before starting a company it’s important to know the value you will bring to consumers. Do some research on your target audience. Are you offering a product or service that has never been offered before? Will your idea solve a problem or help a community? Why should executives invest in your company? These are all questions that you should know the answers to prior to meeting with potential investors. Most importantly, understand the value you bring to consumers prior to pitching your initial business plan.
McBride John believes understanding the value you bring to consumers is one of the most important parts of entrepreneurship. “The first step is to understand what value you would be bringing to your consumers. That value has to be grounded in purpose,” she said. “Identify the size of the niche that you want to serve. Figure out how big that is. Figure out if it’s worth your time to start a business.”
Surround Yourself With Experts
Early career entrepreneurs should consider finding mentors, advisors, and experts to help them fully flesh out their initial idea into something of value to consumers. It’s especially important to find experts in your field. From start-up founders to restaurant owners, there are so many different types of people who can provide advice about being an entrepreneur. Try joining a LinkedIn group for business owners and reach out to seasoned entrepreneurs like Phil Long, who founded Longevity Wines in 2008. “The more experts you surround yourself with, the shorter that learning curve is. You can’t do it on your own,” he told me. “You’ve got to be a sponge. Listen to the people that have done this multiple times over and learn from that,” he said.
McBride John agrees that it’s crucial to have advisors. She believes entrepreneurs need to build community in order to thrive. “Surround yourself with a community of people that have the expertise. Engrain yourself in that community because there’s going to be days where it’s so hard you don’t even know how you’re going to get through,’’ she told me.
Make A Solid Business Plan
Creating a well thought out business plan is important for entrepreneurs of all ages. A great way to write a business plan is to have someone with experience send you a plan they used or review yours once it’s done.
McBride John says to “make sure you have a clear purpose” and “that you’re providing a clear robust plan.” She also said to “have a community of other entrepreneurs that you can incubate yourself with as you’re going through each stage of your business.” Long also talked about the importance of making a business plan.
“This was my business plan. We’re going to make five hundred cases this year then a thousand the next and fifteen hundred next,” he told me. “If you don’t have a path mapped out, how do you know where you’re going? That’s so important. The more you can plot out ahead of time, the easier your path will be.”
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