Entrepreneurs: Lawyers Strive to Build Start-Up Businesses

By Amanda Robert - Chicago Lawyer, July 30, 2010

The secret to success

Not all business start-ups succeed.

Eric Marshall, a shareholder and corporate attorney at Schuyler, Roche & Crisham, said entrepreneurs must anticipate issues that their businesses will face and discuss strategies to deal with those issues.

"For investors, if something's built into the business plan, it's okay even if there's a cost," Marshall said. "But if it comes as a surprise later, that might be a problem."

Marshall met Ben Finch, a founding partner and managing director of The Killswitch Collective, a full-service creative agency, two years ago when he drafted a master services agreement and other contracts for the agency.

More recently, Marshall helped Finch set up McKenna Ventures Group Inc., a business investment firm that focuses on small start-up businesses, and Finch's Beer Co. LLC.

"Ben had this idea that there would be a lot of business people who are younger business people who didn't see clear career paths by staying on the normal track," Marshall said. "He wanted to work with them to scale up their businesses . and as a result of these discussions, it came out that Ben himself really wanted to start a brewery."

He helped Finch put together a business plan featuring a brewery that serves its beer in an adjacent bar. They'll establish the Finch's Beer brand through the brewery and bar, he said, and use cash from on-site sales to later buy equipment for bottling and distribution.

"My whole point was to not claim to be a brewer or try to be a brewer," Finch said. "I'm trying to be someone who is creating a new product and offering that to the community in a slightly different way."

Finch hopes to initially offer three types of ales - pale, amber and blonde - from a brewery near West Town or East Village. He said he hasn't picked an exact location, but plans to open the brewery by the end of the year.

With Marshall's help, Finch started fundraising and seeking investors in January. He expects the brewery to succeed, he said, due to consumers' appreciation of local businesses and micro-brewed beer.

"Obviously, there's a huge market here for beer," Finch said. "That's the bottom line. I would argue that you could have at least 20 or 30 brewery set-ups here in the city, and the city still wouldn't be saturated."

Marshall said to succeed, entrepreneurs must provide a product that consumers want. They must also have enough capital and management savvy to grow their business.

Finch's Beer hits all the marks, he said.

"I think it can't miss," Marshall said. "The idea of starting with the on-premises sales to establish a brand, and then later scaling up to distribution really reduces risk. It's a solid business plan."

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