If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Take a look at the 5 need-to-know factors for those interested in starting their very own successful nightclub. No one said ti would be easy, but it will be easier with this guide.

How to Start a Nightclub or Bar

So you want to start a nightclub? Well before you can skip ahead to shooting finger-guns across the room, as you saunter through your self-made hospitality empire, there are a few things you should consider. As knowledge is power, you’ve got to get stuck right into your research, so let Cluboid give you the rundown on the fundamentals of building a nightclub or bar on a shoestring budget. In the current financial climate, it may be a bit of a risky one, but it’s certainly not impossible. After all, mountains can be moved with a little bit of know how.

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1. It’s all about that Lease

Be smart and negotiate with your lease. Spend time tracking down an amenable Landlord that is prepared to cut you a deal. This means you can discuss the potential of reduced rent or even - given the state of the property market at present - ask for a period entirely rent-free. The market uncertainties often mean that landlords are more flexible on rent, and are usually keen to avoid paying business rates themselves, so use that business brain to wangle yourself a deal. You might even propose a bulk payment on the back end of the lease instead.

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2. Recycle previous space

Your most cost-effective move with regards to space is to nab somewhere that was a preexisting nightlife attraction. This not only demonstrates that it can be done, and indicates someone else invested in a similar business here but means you save a shed load on fittings and amenities. Get out of the house and roll your sleeves up in town to get the skinny on the area, and catch wind of any vacant space of potential closures. The internet can also be your best friend here, as it not only serves as a great tool for determining your local demographic and what they like (see where people are tagging themselves/check where their images are geo-tagged) but you can also scour sites such as LoopNet, Commercial People, Gumtree and PropertyLink to find ads of places up for lease. Far less risky than opting for a newbuild in which the plumbing for 20 toilets, 8 functional bar taps and an abundance of sinks need to installed. Preexisting nightclubs/bars may even eliminate the need for soundproofing.

3. Use pretty packaging

Because you’ve been smart and chosen a venue with all your nightclub/bar modcons, the majority of the hard graft should already be done, and you can now concentrate on your redesign. Here, it is all about the ‘Wizard of Oz’ effect. Use a touch of smoke and mirrors to make your venue look sparkling without splashing the cash by touching base with local talent such as photographers and artists that would jump at the opportunity of commercial exposure to work on your decoration. We’re also fortunate to be in a context where ‘preloved’ is often favoured over brand new, so keep your eyes on sites like freecycle and ebay for nabbing interesting oddities and furniture. These can even be revamped and spruced up to appear chic and brand new if the vintage vibe isn’t for you. But above all, never underestimate a lick of paint and the effect of careful planning/positioning.

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4. Collab

There’s no shame in admitting your shortcomings, in fact, the most successful business folk use them to their advantage by getting involved in mutually beneficial collaborations. You may well be the sole investor, but if you’re new to the nightclub and bar circuit, hunting for an experienced GM or Marketing lead is a very sensible investment. Trust in their instincts and experience enough to make them joint business owners. Not only will this help keep your expenses down, but you have now recruited a right hand man or woman that is equally invested, literally, in seeing this venture succeed.

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5. Work some marketing magic

Celebrity appearances and world-class guest DJ’s cost an absolute arm and a leg, so here is your opportunity to think outside the box. Trawl Pinterest and Partyshop websites for current trends and imaginative themed event inspiration. UV and Foam parties, Murder mysteries, Movie screenings, Traffic light parties, comedy shows. If you can, try to coincide an event with a big time movie franchise release such as: Star wars or Marvel, so you’re able to market it as such online. Use social media to spread the word like wildfire: Event invites on Facebook, hashtag anything nightlife related and mention specific people in your target demographic on Twitter, write up a business launch article for LinkedIn- anything you can to get your name heard. Invest a little into reaching out to successful bloggers with high rates of traffic to cover your new venue on their sites in exchange for a free evening on you. You can even rope in independent promo teams to throw events at your venue. This also means that they’re equally invested in getting bums on seats, so will work extra hard to fill up the space.

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The key to keeping your venue overheads low, is to make smart, well-founded decisions and muck in where you can. Use your gleaming business prowess to negotiate a great deal on a lease and choose your venue wisely. Recruit those who can make up for any experiential shortcomings you may have, and roll your sleeves up with your social media campaigns and you are well on your way. You are now in good stead to begin your expedition as a super-savvy nightclub entrepreneur, fiercely cutting costs like an explorer with a machete. Now, to begin. Good luck, and Godspeed nightlife warrior.

About the Author

Aoife O'Sullivan is a regular writer at Cluboid focused on helping large and small businesses achieve better bookings and reservations.

You can read more posts by Aoife on our blog.

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