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How to Open a Sports Bar

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Opening a sports bar can be a very profitable business venture. However, you must take several essential steps to ensure your success.

Here are ten steps you can take to build your own sports bar.


Ten Steps to Launching a New Sports Bar Business

1. Choose Your Type of Sports Bar 

The first step in launching a sports bar is identifying the type of business you want to launch. You might choose from the following types, among others: 

Family Sports Bar: A family sports bar is typically geared towards families with children. This type of business might offer child-friendly menu options and entertainment.

Casual Dining Sports Bar: A casual dining sports bar offers a more relaxed atmosphere than a traditional sports bar. This type of business might have a wider variety of menu options, including a full bar.

Fine Dining Sports Bar: A fine dining sports bar offers a more upscale experience than a casual bar. This type of establishment might have a limited menu with only gourmet options.


2. Name Your Sports Bar

Give your sports bar an identity so people will consider it a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your sports bar from your local team, a specific sport, focus on a geographical location, or use your name, among other options.

The main goal of naming your sports bar is to make it sound trendy and interesting so people will visit your bar.


3. Determine Your Sports Bar Business Model

There are several possible types of business models for a sports bar business, including:

  1. Brewery: You might choose to open a brewery and produce your beer on site.
  2. Franchise: You could open a franchise of an existing sports bar brand.
  3. Homegrown: You might decide to start a completely new and original sports bar business from scratch.

No matter which model you choose, ensure that it aligns with your business goals and the services you offer.


4. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business

By incorporating your sports bar, 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 sports bar will determine the taxes you pay and which state or federal tax forms you need to file.

Read our article comparing the most common sports bar business structures.


5. Write a Sports Bar Business Plan

All sports 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 sports bar business plan.


6. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses

You may need to obtain the required licenses and permits before launching your sports bar.

For example, you will likely need a liquor license to serve alcohol at your bar. And if you plan on serving food, you will need to obtain a food service license from the health department.

You must also register your sports 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 sports bar business licenses.


7. Determine Your Budget and Apply for Funding as Needed

In developing your sports bar business plan, you will figure out how much funding you need to start and grow your business.

If you have funds to invest in your sports bar, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your business include traditional bank loans, SBA loans, credit cards, angel investors, and family and friends.

Read our article about the costs of starting a sports bar to help you determine if funding is needed. 


8. Get the Technology and Software Needed to Run Your Bar Efficiently

When you start your sports bar, it’s essential to have the right technology in place to maximize efficiency. You need a computer with Internet access, and accounting software for tracking expenses and revenues. 

You may also want to invest in bar management software, which can help streamline operations such as inventory management and employee scheduling.


9. Market Your Sports Bar to Potential Customers

Before packing the bar, you must let the world know you exist. The first step is to create a website so people can learn more about your bar and why to visit.

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 sports bar industry through social media so they can help share your business. 

You also need to start gathering the materials needed to execute your promotions strategy, which is your strategy for attracting new customers. Bar and grills should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared: 

  • Developing print materials such as business cards, flyers, and menus
  • Creating online ads
  • Hosting special events or happy hours
  • Partnering with other businesses in your area

Read our article about how to market your sports bar for more tips.


10. Get New Customers and 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 sports bar business.

Read our article about how to effectively grow your sports bar to learn more.


Starting a Sports Bar FAQs

A sports bar can be a great way to tap into your passion for sports while owning a business. Sports bars usually have a casual atmosphere, which can appeal to a wide range of customers. And since people love to watch sports, there is typically a built-in demand for sports bars.

Some tips for starting a sports bar include:

  • Have a clear vision for your business
  • Create a detailed business plan
  • Obtain the proper licenses and permits
  • Find the right location
  • Secure financing
  • Get the right technology in place
  • Market your bar effectively
  • Grow your customer base

A simple checklist to use when starting a sports bar is as follows:

  1. Choose Your Type of Sports Bar Company: 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.
  2. Name Your Sports Bar: This should be done carefully, as your brand is important for attracting the right customers. A simple, memorable name will go a long way.
  3. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business: Whether you 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.
  4. Determine Your Sports Bar Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
  5. Write a Sports 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.
  6. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses: In most locations, you will be required to apply for a business license or permits before you can begin operations.
  7. Determine Your Budget and Apply for Funding as Needed: You will need to know how much money you have to spend on your business-related expenses before opening any doors. If needed, apply for a small business loan or other funding options.
  8. Get the Technology and Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently: You need the right tools to succeed. Implement software that will help you manage your time, contacts, and business operations in general.
  9. Market Your Sports 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 genuinely need. 
  10. Get Customers and 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


Open a Successful Sports Bar

Opening a sports bar can be a great way to tap into the lucrative bar and restaurant industry. To increase your chances of success, ensure you have a clear vision for your business, create a detailed business plan, obtain the necessary licenses and permits, find the right location, and market your business effectively. With  proper planning and execution, you can open a successful sports bar business that will thrive for years.