What kind of business do you want to open? Maybe your dream still feels pretty far away or maybe you’re only weeks away from opening your doors. Regardless, wouldn’t it be nice if one of your most successful competitors were not only willing to offer you advice but also give you a small startup loan to help?
Sound like something that would never happen? If you happen to be opening a microbrewery or other food service business, this program already exists. You may have never heard the name Jim Koch but if you’re in the beer business, you surely have. Koch is the founder of Sam Adams, the most well known of the small or microbreweries.
His story may have some similarities to many future entrepreneurs. Koch came from a long line of brewsters. He grew up learning how to make beer but as so many entrepreneurs know, having a skill doesn’t necessarily make you qualified to be a business owner. When he first started Sam Adams, Koch felt unprepared to be a business owner. He said that he didn’t know how to design a label, conduct sales calls, or hire and fire people. He knew that his brewing skills alone weren’t going to make his business successful.
Over time, and with the help of mentors, Koch learned how to run a successful business and now, he wants to give back to the small business community. Brewing the American Dream was started by Koch in 2008 and has since leant more than $1 million to over 150 small businesses trying to become the next major player in the food and beverage space. Koch says that by focusing only on the food and alcohol businesses, he is able to concentrate only on businesses that he knows well and that helps him to be a better mentor to other small business owners.
At a 10% interest rate, these microloans are far from a handout. He doesn’t claim to run a charity but he does believe that he provides a valuable service to businesses that are unable to secure loans from banks or other traditional lending sources. Like a venture capital firm, he receives a large number of applicants and picks companies based on solid financials that will minimize the chances of a default on the loan.
If you are in the food and beverage business and your business startup is in the early stages, Brewing the American Dream may be able to provide you with a loan.