Opening a taproom can be a great way to get into the brewing business. Not only do you have the opportunity to sell your own beer, but you also get to serve other beers on tap from local breweries.
Here are the 10 steps you can take to get started on building your very own taproom business.
10 Steps to Launching a New Taproom Business
1. Choose Your Type of Taproom Business
The first step in launching a taproom business is to identify the type of taproom business you want to launch. You might choose from the following types among others:
- Nano Brewery and Taproom: A small-scale brewery that produces a limited amount of beer in each batch and has a taproom on site where customers can drink the beer.
- Microbrewery and Taproom: A medium-sized brewery that produces a wider variety of beers than a nanobrewery and also has a taproom on site.
- Brewpub: A restaurant that brews its own beer and serves it on tap.
2. Name Your Taproom Business
Give your taproom business an identity so people will think of it as a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your taproom business from your industry, focus on a geographical location, or use your own name among other options.
The main goal for naming your taproom business is to make it sound appealing and trustworthy so that potential customers are more likely to visit.
3. Determine Your Taproom Business Model
There are several possible types of business models for a taproom business including:
- Owning and operating a brewery with a taproom on site
- Partnering with a local brewery to serve their beer in your taproom
- Purchasing beer from breweries to serve in your taproom
The type of business model you choose will impact the cost of starting and running your taproom business.
No matter which model you choose, make sure that it aligns with your business goals and the products you offer.
Read more about choosing the right business model for your taproom business.
4. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business
By incorporating your taproom business, 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 taproom business will determine the amount of taxes you pay and which state or federal tax forms you need to file.
Read our article comparing the most common taproom business structures.
5. Write a Taproom Business Plan
All taproom 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 among other things.
When developing your taproom business plan and strategy, you should think about the following questions your customers might have:
- What type of taproom business should I launch?
- How do I name my taproom business?
- What is the right business model for me?
- What form should I choose for my taproom business?
- Do I need a business plan?
- How much money will it cost to start my taproom business?
- How do I get funding for my taproom business?
- How do I find the right location for my taproom business?
- What should I include in my taproom business’s design?
- How do I staff my taproom business?
- What are the day-to-day operations of a taproom business?
- How do I market my taproom business?
- What are the legal requirements for starting a taproom business?
- What are the financial projections for my taproom business?
- How do I exit my taproom business?
Answering these questions will help develop a comprehensive business plan for your taproom business.
Read our article about how to write a tap room business plan.
6. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses
There may be required licenses and permits you need to obtain before launching your taproom business.
For example, if you plan to serve food at your taproom business, you will need to obtain a food permit from your local health department.
If you plan to sell alcohol, you will need to apply for a liquor license from the state Alcohol Beverage Control Board. The requirements and cost of obtaining a liquor license vary by state.
You must also register your taproom 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 taproom business licenses.
7. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed
In developing your taproom business plan, you will figure out how much funding you need to start and grow your business.
If you have your own funds to invest in your taproom business, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to your personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your taproom business include traditional bank loans, SBA loans, credit cards, angel investors and family and friends.
Read our article about the costs associated with starting a taproom business to help you determine if funding is needed.
8. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently
When you start your taproom business, it’s essential to have the right technology in place to maximize efficiency. You definitely need a computer with Internet access, and accounting software for tracking expenses and revenues.
You may also want to invest in point of sale (POS) software, which will streamline transactions and help you track inventory levels. Other helpful technology for your taproom business may include a customer relationship management (CRM) system and email marketing software
9. Market Your Taproom Business to Potential Customers
Before you start selling your products, you have to let the world know you exist. The first step is to create a website so people can learn more about your products and how they benefit them.
After you launch your website, start promoting it through social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Also consider networking with other people in the taproom industry through social media and blogs so they can help share your business.
You also need to start gathering the materials needed to execute on your promotions strategy, which is your strategy for attracting new customers. Taproom businesses should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared:
- Host beer tastings and food pairings to introduce people to the products you offer
- Offer discounts or specials on certain days of the week or for certain products
- Develop a loyalty rewards program for customers
- Sponsor local events and festivals in your community
- Partner with a local brewery or distributor to help with marketing and promotions
Read our article about how to market your taproom business for more tips.
10. Get New Customers & Grow Your Business
When you promote your products, 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 taproom business.
Read our article about how to effectively grow your taproom business to learn more.
Starting a Taproom Business FAQs
Why Start a Taproom Business?
There are many reasons to start a taproom business. First, it’s a great way to be your own boss and have control over your own destiny. Second, you can make a good living running a successful taproom business. Finally, you can take advantage of the growing popularity of craft beer and wine by offering customers a place to sample and purchase these products.
What is Needed to Start a Successful Taproom Business?
To start a successful taproom business, you need passion, determination and a willingness to work hard. You also need a good business plan, the right location, the right technology and software, and a strong marketing strategy.
How Can I Market a Taproom Business Online?
There are many ways to market a taproom business online. You can start by creating a website and promoting it through social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. You can also consider networking with other people in the taproom industry through social media and blogs so they can help share your business. Finally, you should develop a promotional strategy for attracting new customers, which may include hosting beer tastings, offering discounts or specials, and partnering with local breweries or distributors.
What are Some Tips for Starting a Taproom Business?
Here are some tips for starting a taproom business:
- Research the market. Before you start your taproom business, be sure to do your research and develop a good business plan.
- Find the right location. The success of your taproom business will depend largely on its location, so choose wisely.
- Invest in the right technology. Having the right technology and software in place will help you run your taproom business more efficiently.
- Develop a strong marketing strategy. You need to let people know about your business, so be sure to develop a strong marketing strategy.
- Promote your products. Be sure to promote your products through social media, blogs and other channels.
- Get new customers and grow your business. Be sure to establish systems to ensure consistency and reduce costs as you start to get new customers. And, be sure to find and train the right people to help you grow your taproom business.
Where Can I Find a Simple Checklist for Starting a Taproom Business?
A simple checklist to use when starting a taproom business is as follows:
- Choose Your Type of Taproom: 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.
- Name Your Taproom Business: This should be done with care, as your brand is important for attracting the right customers. A simple, memorable name will go a long way.
- Choose a Legal Form for Your Business: Whether you choose to 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.
- Determine Your Taproom Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
- Write a Taproom 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.
- Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses: In most locations you will be required to apply for a business license and/or permits before you can begin operations.
- Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed: You will need to know how much money you have to spend on all of your business-related expenses before opening any doors. If needed, apply for a small business loan or other funding options.
- Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently: You need to have the right tools in place to succeed. Implement software that will help you manage your time, contacts, and business operations in general.
- Market Your Taproom 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 products they truly need.
- Get Customers & 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 products.
Opening a taproom can be a great way to jump into the world of entrepreneurship. By doing your research, investing in the right technology and marketing strategy, and finding the right location, you can set yourself up for success. And, remember to focus on getting new customers while maintaining consistency among all your products. With these tips in mind, you’re well on your way to opening a taproom that will thrive for years to come.