Opening a bar is an exciting venture. There are many things to consider, from the licensing and permitting process to the actual layout of the bar. This article will walk you through the entire process, from start to finish.
Here are the ten steps you can take to get started on building your very own bar business.
Ten Steps to Launching a New Bar Business
1. Choose Your Type of Bar Business
The first step in launching a bar business is to identify the type of bar business you want to launch. You might choose from the following types, among others:
- Bar with a restaurant
- Pubs are focused on offering a selection of beers, wines, and cocktails
- Sports bars show televised sporting events and offer a menu of bar food and drinks
2. Name Your Bar Business
Give your bar business an identity so people will consider it a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your bar business from your industry, focus on a geographical location, or use your own name among other options.
The main goal for naming your bar business is to make it sound appealing and trustworthy so people will visit it.
3. Determine Your Bar Business Model
There are several possible types of business models for a bar business, including:
- Bar that serves food
- Bar that does not serve food
- Restaurant with a bar
- Bar that has live music
- Bar that has several screens to watch sports
Whatever model you choose, ensure it aligns with your business goals and the services you offer.
4. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business
By incorporating your bar business, you will limit your liability. You can incorporate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a C Corporation (C-Corp), or an S Corporation (S-Corp). Or you can operate as a sole proprietorship.
The business structure you choose for your bar business will determine the taxes you pay and which state or federal tax forms you need to file.
Read our article comparing the most common bar business structures.
5. Write a Bar Business Plan
All bar business owners should develop a business plan.
A business plan is a document that outlines the goals, strategies, and operations of a business. It can be used to secure funding from investors or lenders, as well as to guide the day-to-day operations of the business. The business plan should include information on the company’s products or services, market analysis, financial projections, and management team.
Read our article about how to write a bar business plan.
6. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses
You may need to obtain the required licenses and permits before launching your bar.
For example, you will need to obtain a liquor license. The process for obtaining a liquor license can vary from state to state.
You will also need to get a business license, which you can get from your local city or county clerk’s office.
You must also register your bar business as a legal entity with the state where you plan to do business. You can simply file an online form through your Secretary of State website.
Registering with the federal government is also essential so you can properly pay taxes for your business. You will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can apply for at the IRS website, if you plan to hire employees.
Read our article about obtaining the proper bar business licenses.
7. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed
In developing your bar business plan, you will figure out how much funding you need to start and grow your business.
If you have your own funds to invest in your bar business, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to your personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your bar business include traditional bank loans, SBA loans, credit cards, angel investors and family and friends.
Read our article about the costs associated with starting a bar business to help you determine if funding is needed.
8. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently
When you start your bar business, it’s essential to have the right technology in place to maximize efficiency. You definitely need a computer with Internet access, and accounting software for tracking expenses and revenues.
You may also want to invest in bar management software to help you with tasks like inventory management and employee scheduling.
9. Market Your Bar Business to Potential Customers
Before you start selling your services, you have to let the world know you exist. The first step is to create a website so people can learn more about your services and how they benefit them.
After you launch your website, start promoting it through social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Also consider networking with other people in the bar industry through social media and blogs so they can help share your business.
You also need to start gathering the materials needed to execute on your promotions strategy, which is your strategy for attracting new customers. Bar businesses should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared:
- Developing a database of potential customers
- Designing and distributing print materials like menus and flyers
- Organizing special events or promotions
- Advertising in local publications
- Engaging in online marketing efforts
Read our article about how to market your bar business for more tips.
10. Get New Customers & Grow Your Business
When you promote your services, you’ll start to get interest from potential customers.
Make sure you’re ready to serve these customers. Also, be sure to establish systems to ensure consistency and reduce costs. And be sure to find and train the right people to help you grow your bar business.
Read our article about how to effectively grow your bar business to learn more.
Starting a Bar Business FAQs
The barriers to starting a bar business are relatively low, making it a great option for entrepreneurs. Additionally, bar demand is always high, since people love socializing and drinking alcohol.
Some tips for starting a bar business include finding the right location, getting the right technology and software, developing a solid marketing strategy, and hiring the right people.
When starting a bar business, you also need to make sure you have a strong business plan, the right location, technology and software, a good marketing strategy, and the right people working for you.
A simple checklist to use when starting a bar business is as follows:
- Choose Your Type of Bar: This should be based on what you are best at and how much experience you have. Remember to keep your interests, skills, and experience in mind at all times.
- Name Your Bar Business: This should be done with care, as your brand is important for attracting the right customers. A simple, memorable name will go a long way.
- Choose a Legal Form for Your Business: Whether you choose to become a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation or another option will depend on your business. Ensure that you are aware of all the implications of each type.
- Determine Your Bar Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
- Write a Bar Business Plan: Your business plan will also help you determine what your start-up costs will be and will provide a roadmap with which you can launch and grow.
- Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses: In most locations you will be required to apply for a business license and/or permits before you can begin operations.
- Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed: You will need to know how much money you have to spend on all of your business-related expenses before opening any doors. If needed, apply for a small business loan or other funding options.
- Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently: You need to have the right tools in place to succeed. Implement software that will help you manage your time, contacts, and business operations in general.
- Market Your Bar Business to Potential Customers: A solid marketing plan will be crucial to your success. It should focus on attracting the right customers so that you can provide them with the services they truly need.
- Get Customers & Grow Your Business: Once you have a solid marketing plan, it's time to actively pursue and secure those who could benefit the most from your services.
Opening a bar can be a lucrative and exciting business venture. There are many things to consider when opening a bar, such as choosing the right type of bar, naming your business, writing a business plan, getting the necessary permits and licenses, and marketing your business.
With the right planning and execution, you can open a successful bar that attracts customers and helps you grow your business.