By the time you investigate and determine each cost of starting up a bar, you may have spent months on research only to determine that you can not profitably operate in the way you had envisioned, sending you back to square one. Avoid this possibility by starting with an expert (and preferably more than one) who can help you create a top-down estimate.
Start With Your Network
The first place to look is with friends, family, or contacts of your friends and family who are willing to speak with you from their experience of launching a bar. Hopefully they will be willing to do so for nothing more than the satisfaction of you out. Some bar start up costs are similar to those of a nightclub or restaurant, so consider speaking to individuals with those experiences as well.
Non-Competitive Business Owners
Bar business owners operating in another city, far enough away that they can not be considered a competitor, may be willing to help you out by sitting down to describe the costs of launching. Perhaps the consulting fee may be as low as the cost of the business owner's lunch.
When talking to individuals who have opened bars in the past, be sure to determine whether the cost of doing business and launching in your city will be higher or lower than in the other city, and by how much. Compare prices for some standard items between these markets to check this. Also consider the effect of inflation in the years that have passed since the business owner you spoke with launched his or her bar. Apply the geographical conversion and inflation to the estimates that they have got to get a better estimate.
Paid consultants with experience helping bars to launch are another means to expert opinions on startup costs. The cost may be significantly higher than speaking with a business owner, but you may gain from their experience working with multiple businesses and the fact that their business reputation rests on their ability to give good advice. As long as you check references carefully for any consultant you work with, you can be reasonably assured of receiving good help.
At the end of the day, remember that all of the experts you speak with can only give you estimates and that the actual costs you may incur will be higher or lower than the total they give. You will eventually have to do your own detailed investigation, but after speaking with a few experts you should have a range can assume you are operating within.
While you are speaking to an expert about start up costs, do not miss the opportunity to ask about other key challenges that they came up against and hearing advice they wish they had received before they launched. Document any knowledge you can gain from their experience.