Letting your passion be the main inspiration behind your business is perhaps a risk but the potential rewards go beyond just business, it could make your company much more than just your job. It does also require that you have extensive knowledge, as with any business, and you may have to think harder to set your goals. One clear risk is being too subjective and letting yourself be blinded by what you want rather than what is actually in front of you; your feasible, achievable goals.
But then again, innovation and passion go hand in hand. You can't possibly think outside the box without going into unchartered territory. Taking risks is part and parcel of running a business of any size so it lends itself to assume that risk-taking should be a key characteristic of any entrepreneur or business owner.
The rise of craft breweries in Australia
Australia has long been home to brewery of many an ilk but during the early 2000s there was a real spike in the demand of craft beers globally, starting from the US and spreading like wildfire as more and more people realised there was no need to compromise flavour over money. Craft beers range from relatively cheap to not-so-cheap but the common denominator is that they are made with a genuine interest in the brewing process, and of course the end result. The 'craft' in craft beer is not coincidental - brewers, like chefs, have to find a balance between gut feeling and meticulous attention to detail.
(source Watne & Hakala 2013)
The number of breweries being developed in Australia was close to an all-time low during the 90s but since the influx of inspiration and vigour coming from craft breweries there is a steadily increasing trend of small breweries popping up, a wave of SMEs that are chiefly concerned with interest and passion rather than simply following financial advise. There are now almost as many breweries being developed here as there was during the late 1800s, when the number of breweries were at a peak.
A small town brewery making a big name
The Burleigh Brewing Company operates from the Gold Coast's Burleigh Heads and has been making beer since 2006. This Queensland SME is a company that has found a way to combine the talents of a brewmaster with an awareness of their industry that is necessary to make your mark and appeal to the Australian palate. They've been acknowledged internationally in the World Beer Cup (yes, that exists) for their hefeweissbier, in addition to being named Telstra Queensland Business of the Year.
(above is a crop of hops)
There is a considerable market for those who are willing to let passion guide them in their business; a study by Hakala and Watne on craft breweries in Victoria noted passion as being a driving force whilst entrepreneurial instincts are also present.
The importance of a presence in the community
The aforementioned study also identified a community presence being a significant factor contributing to the identity of craft breweries; they are companies that depend on the support of their communities, if only initially, and they spend time and money nourishing that aspect if their business.
Burleigh Brewing Co has successfully made their business a part of the community they live in, supporting causes that are not just local, but defining of their community. Burleigh Heads is a beach town and some noteworthy causes Burleigh Brewing are involved with are the Disabled Surfers Association, the Surfworld Museum and the Burleigh Heads kindergarten, amongst many others. What is noteworthy here is that these are not just any organisations, they are cornerstones to a community like Burleigh Heads.
Being in tune with the values of your community is not a ploy, it is a way to ensure that your business and your brand has its roots firmly in the ground - a very solid base to build on. It's an extension of an already vital part of success for a lot of businesses; the social aspect in which the company is established as something more, something that will be part in a give and take. The caricature of the multinational exploiting resources until they've been depleted is still very much present, and it extends to almost business. The further from that image you can take your company the better off you will be, for many reasons. Especially for an SME it is a way to engage in a way other companies cannot, since they just don't have access the knowledge that you only acquire from being a part of a community. A smaller business can interact in a way that a larger one can't, and a smart company will do exactly that.
The talent and the technique
The main point here is not that it is any easier to establish your SME in a niche business or a regional area; you must of course also have the skills and willingness to learn from your mistakes, as you would in any business, anywhere.
The Burleigh Brewing Company set up shop with tools sourced for their benefits, not their price. This isn't always the way to go but when your brand depends on being unique and delivering a product that sets itself apart it certainly is. To produce beers with the authenticity required to differentiate they had to have product-specific knowledge, as well as the patience needed to find the best tools for the job.
An SME can distinguish itself through hard work and knowledge of their industry and product, regardless of where they're located or what they offer. Community, resolve and innovation are key - and hard work is always required, but you can always make your passion your business.