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Should You Get into the Bar Business?

At some point in life, everyone has said “I’d love to have a bar. I’d be totally great at it”. For some it’s just a dead-end, alcohol-fueled, thought that comes out of nowhere. For others, it’s an actual dream that starts to gain traction in time. But, would you really be great at it? Answer these questions to find out:

Do You Like Bars?

It should go without saying that no one should throw money at something they don’t enjoy, especially bars. Though most people tend to think bars practically pay for themselves, that’s just wishful thinking. Bars take an insane amount of work. Really, insane. Not only will you have to significantly change your lifestyle (we’ll get to that in a minute), you’ll also be putting out fires every single day. It is a business that requires you to deal with lots of intoxicated people, so this really shouldn’t surprise you.

Unless you are already attracted to bar life, you should not think about investing in a bar. Not even as a partner. Bar ownership will basically require you become a workaholic and if you don’t like the environment when you were just a happy patron, you won’t suddenly fall in love with it as a busy boss.

Have You Done Your Research?

One of the biggest misconceptions in the industry is that bars always have a public. When people are happy they celebrate with alcohol, and when they’re sad, they drown their sorrows, right? Well, thing is that’s irrelevant when seriously considering bar ownership.

Yes, chances are that unless you’re planning to time travel to the prohibition era, there’s always going to be an audience for your bar. The supply of a potential public will never be an issue. The problems are the oversaturated markets, lack of know-how when it comes to advertising, and setting up shop in crappy locations.

When it comes to the market it really depends on where you live. Some cities have a bar in every corner, others have a bit of drought. This is something you should study before making any kind of commitment. But here’s another thing you have to keep in mind, just because the market is oversaturated doesn’t mean there’s no place for you. If your idea is not exactly the typical run-of-the-mill bar that’s on every street in town, you can still have an opportunity. Sometimes, even if the market seems to be full, there’s still room for newcomers if they can come up with something original enough.

Then there’s the issue of the location. Depending on the kind of bar you are setting up, you could benefit for a place with tons of walk-by traffic or might want something more exclusive. It depends on the kind of bar that you want to set-up and the target audience you’re going for. But generally, this is what you want to keep in mind: safety, accessibility, and parking. Regardless of the target, you’ll want to be in a safe part of town, be in an easy to find street (whether by public transportation, or car), and easily accommodate driving patrons (especially if some of them might have to leave their cars at the bar).

Finally, you have to take into account your marketing budget. Most people forget this until the last possible second. The cost of a bar isn’t just the physical space and all the alcohol, you’ll also need to add advertising costs. Whenever you visit a certain location, think about what your advertising costs will look like if you set up right there. Some locations will require a heavier investment than others when it comes to getting people there.

Are You Ready for the Lifestyle?

So yes, the lifestyle. Your patrons will not be the only ones staying up until the wee hours of the morning. You’ll also need to be on call. That’s not a bad thing if you’re naturally a night owl, but here comes the really bad news, you’ll also need to be available the next morning when your providers call you at 10 a.m.

Bars are not the right businesses for those who are comfortable working no more than 40 hours a week and need their daily 8-hour sleep. You’ll need to be available for providers, make sure you are always fulfilling sanitary requirements, fixing any issues that came up during the night, figuring out what needs a reorder, and even covering the odd shift. So really, if you can’t see yourself behind the bar for most of your time, don’t even think about getting a bar.