How to Have a Cabaret

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A cabaret is a restaurant or nightclub with a stage for performances and tables where the audience can drink and/or dine while watching the show. Think of your cabaret primarily as an entertainment venue, which usually requires singers, dancers and comedians. Your cabaret may stand alone or be located in a larger venue, such as a casino or hotel. To maximize your possibility for success, start with a thoroughly researched business plan, which includes a marketing strategy. Plan to have sufficient funding, as it takes time to become profitable.

Determine the structure of your enterprise. To get the most freedom, create a sole proprietorship. You will not have much liability protection or potential for raising capital. A partnership offers others who can help run the business and increases the potential for additional funds, but it requires sharing decision-making. The best protection from liability and usually the greatest chance for obtaining capital from investors and banks is a corporate structure. Corporations require the most paperwork but offer the most safety in return.

Write a business plan that describes (a) how you intend to manage your business, (b) where your cabaret will be located, (c) what you want it to look like inside and out, (d) what personnel, supplies and equipment are required at the start and later, (e) and what licenses you need. Some successful cabarets charge a cover (fee) for watching the entertainment, some require a specific number of drinks be bought, and others make a profit primarily on the sale of food and drinks. If you serve meals, will customers be allowed to eat during a performance? If you serve only appetizers and drinks, when and how will they be sold and delivered? Many details about the operation may seem small, but they can have a large impact on success.

Find entertainers who can attract customers to your cabaret. This is your most difficult activity. Some less well-known, less expensive entertainers have followers who will come to your cabaret to see them perform. Better-known entertainers ordinarily require higher fees. Cabarets typically have more than one performer and often have a master of ceremonies. The ability to attract the right mix of entertainment at an affordable price is crucial to operating successfully.

Create a realistic marketing strategy that shows your potential funding sources how you can make a profit. You need a strategy that competes successfully against other entertainment options, such as movies, sporting events or staying home and watching television. A successful marketing strategy tailors the entertainment, food and drink to the audience you seek and advertises to that audience.

Obtain the financing you need to keep your cabaret operating until it becomes profitable. Working with banks and investors, your business plan and experience in the entertainment field are important sign posts to sources of funding.