Starting your own business can be one of the most exciting, and challenging, things you ever do, and setting up a bar certainly has its charms. Maybe you mix the meanest cocktails of all your friends, you love meeting and talking to new people, or you enjoy the atmosphere of a big game and celebration. Running a bar seems like a fun time for many aspiring entrepreneurs, and it can be, but you’ll need to be thoroughly prepared for it to work out.
Firstly, you have a high amount of direct competition with over 62,000 bars, taverns, and nightclubs operating in the United States. What’s more, you’re also competing with all the other potential entertainment options that your patrons have. The increased severity of DWI laws and greater interest in healthy lifestyles have changed the alcohol industry. Also, not everyone is cut out for the bartender lifestyle of working until 3 a.m. or later. If these concepts don’t scare you, then some knowledge of the alcohol market and specific considerations for bars will go a long way toward your success. Here are the big things to focus on.
Your bar needs to be properly licensed from the beginning. Skipping this step is a great way to get your bar shut down immediately, not to mention the legal troubles. At the least, you’ll need a bartender license to serve alcoholic drinks, though this license may only be good for beer and wine depending on your state. You can also get bartender certification to ensure you can serve liqueur and all other hard alcoholic beverages.
Before you can work out the finer details of your bar, you have to decide what kind of place you want to run in the first place. One of the most basic types is a sports bar, where you’d naturally want to have plenty of TVs capable of showing multiple games. Since these often serve food, you’ll want to be licensed for that as well. If you’re planning to run a small neighborhood bar, you’ll want to get to know your customers and focus on exceptional service. If you want to open a club, you’ll need to be licensed to play music and be able to promote the talent you’ll be featuring.
Once you know the type of bar you want, you can decide how you want to make patrons feel when they walk in. Decoration will play a huge role in this. Check out Paint Loose for video tutorials on how to make an acrylic painting and other loose painting projects. They also sell paint kits and offers guides for abstracts, watercolors, and canvas paintings. Some original artwork goes a long way toward giving your bar a unique personality.
Naturally, a huge decision for your bar will be what kinds of alcoholic beverages your serve. Of course, there are the popular liquors like vodka, bourbon, whiskey, rum, and gin, and the majority of bars serve cocktails. You may decide to run a specialty bar, though, and these often just serve certain types of alcoholic drinks. Maybe you’re a craft beer bar that focuses on bitters or sours. Martinis are also popular choices for specialty bars thanks to the variety they offer. You’ll likely want to prepare a line of non-alcoholic beverages as well for designated drivers.
Since there’s so much competition, you’ll need to effectively market your bar to have any chance of attracting patrons. So long as you’re just promoting your establishment, and not any specific type of alcohol, you won’t have to worry about alcohol advertising laws. One of the best ways to advertise is by showing off positive reviews on sites like Yelp, so offer your existing customers incentives for doing so. You can make it even easier by creating a Google My Business page, so they can drop a review with a quick Google search. This will also make it easier for you to advertise on other sites.
It’s a great idea to get involved with your local community as well. Post to local social media pages, and search for local bands or other performers to have at your bar. The more buzz you can generate in town, the more likely people are to show up.