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A Comprehensive Guide to Starting a Successful Bar Business

January 11, 2024
Bottles of alcohol at a bar

Starting a bar business can be exciting for entrepreneurs seeking to create a unique and enjoyable social space in Illinois. The process of launching and running a successful bar involves a multitude of steps and considerations, which we can explore as BASSET experienced professionals.

If you’re ready to start a bar, check out these tips for every aspect of a successful bar opening!


Research the Local Market

The first step in starting a successful bar business is conducting thorough research of the local market. This research is critical to understanding the preferences and needs of your target audience. Here are some key elements to consider:


Target Audience

Identify your ideal customers: their age, preferences and demographics. Will your bar cater to a younger crowd, or be more of a neighborhood hangout for all ages?



Choose a strategic location that aligns with your target audience and provides visibility and accessibility. Research the local competition and assess the saturation of bars in the area.


Competitor Analysis

Study your competitors to understand their strengths and weaknesses, too. What can you offer that sets your bar apart? It could be a signature cocktail menu, a specific theme, or exceptional service.


Legal Requirements

Familiarize yourself with Illinois regulations and IL licensing requirements for opening a bar. Compliance with laws and regulations is essential for a successful business.


Craft a Business Plan

Your business plan is the blueprint for your bar business, outlining your vision, goals and strategies for achieving success. Include the following, at the least:


Executive Summary

Provide an overview of your business, including your mission, vision, and the unique selling proposition (USP) of your bar.


Market Analysis

Present the results of your market research, including your target audience, competition and local market trends.


Business Structure

Detail the legal structure of your bar business: sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation.


Financial Projections

Develop a detailed financial plan including startup costs, operating expenses, revenue projections and break-even analysis.


Marketing Strategy

Outline your marketing and advertising strategies to attract and retain customers. Social media, promotions and events are all crucial aspects of your strategy.


Funding Needs

Specify the amount of capital required to start and operate your bar. This may include costs for leasing or purchasing the premises, renovations, equipment and initial inventory.


Secure Financing

Funding your bar business is a critical step. Your business plan will help you determine how much capital you need. Potential sources of financing include:


Personal Savings

Many entrepreneurs use their own savings to fund their bar business. This offers greater control and avoids debt.


Business Loans

Banks and credit unions offer business loans specifically designed for startups. Ensure you have a solid credit history and a well-prepared business plan to secure a loan.



You can seek investors who will provide capital in exchange for equity in your business. This is a common approach for high-growth ventures.


Hire the Right Staff

Your bar staff plays a crucial role in creating a positive and memorable customer experience. When hiring, consider the following:


Bartenders and Barbacks

Look for experienced and skilled bartenders and barbacks who can mix drinks, handle busy shifts, and interact with customers, ensuring a safe and pleasant service experience.



Experienced, friendly, and attentive servers who can multitask effectively are essential for excellent customer service.


Kitchen Staff

Does your bar serve food? You’ll need to hire chefs, cooks, and kitchen staff with experience in your chosen style or cuisine.



Depending on your bar’s size and location, you may need to hire security personnel to ensure the safety of your patrons.



Provide comprehensive training to your staff to be sure they understand the culture and expectations of your bar. And don’t forget BASSET training online with BASSET On The Fly!


Get Licensed and Insured

Operating a bar involves dealing with various legal requirements and potential risks. It’s important to protect your business by staying current and compliant. This includes getting BASSET certified — which BASSET On The Fly can make easy, fast and fun for your whole staff.



Obtain all the necessary licenses and permits to legally serve alcohol and operate a bar in your location. This may include a liquor license, health permits and more.



Secure the appropriate insurance coverage for your bar business, including general liability insurance and liquor liability insurance.



Stay up-to-date with local, state and federal regulations, especially those related to alcohol sales and food safety.


Let BASSET On The Fly Get You Up and Running

Starting a successful bar business is a multi-faceted endeavor that involves careful planning, attention to detail, and a deep understanding of your target market. Remember, the success of your bar will largely depend on your ability to create a unique and enjoyable experience for your customers.

By consistently delivering exceptional service and staying attuned to the evolving preferences of your patrons, you can establish your bar as a beloved local destination. Cheers to your future success!

And when it’s time, make sure your employees get their Illinois BASSET card through BASSET On The Fly. Our On-Premise and Off-Premise BASSET courses are 100% online, self-paced, and just $12.99. Enroll online today!

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