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From Concept to Reality: How I Started my Self-Pour Taproom Business: Blog Series Part 1


Have you ever had a lightbulb moment where an incredible thought bubble strikes you out of the blue? Well, that happened to me after being laid off after the Vid. With all my extra time, I found myself dreaming of my own self-pour taproom, a place where patrons could pour their own perfect pints. Little did I know that this seed of an idea would germinate into a not-yet-flourishing venture that would change my life forever. But not without setbacks, like a ton of setbacks. If it were easy, everyone would do it.


For those of you who want to know or are considering embarking on your own self-pour journey, I'll share insights from my experience of how I started my self-pour taproom business.



Research and Planning

Excited and filled with entrepreneurial zeal, I dove headfirst into researching the best self-pour companies out there so I could plug the information into my rough draft of a business plan.


*I recommend this really cool intentional entrepreneurship business plan journal from Amazon that will guide you through the process of writing a business plan in a neat way.


business plan journal
Journal Your Business Plan



After careful consideration, I narrowed it down to the top three self-pour company contenders: ipourit, Pour My Beer, and Table Tap. I recommend making a list of questions and reaching out to each company. Make sure you ask about the warranty, monthly service fee, and installation costs.


ipourit -- ipouritinc.com

I've been to self-pour taprooms with this system, where you tap a wristband to the screen. I personally enjoy that process more than the RFID card. They also offer touchless tap keys, which I think is great. Their website is user-friendly and has many informative articles.

They offer financing and a 3-year warranty. Their service fee is 1 cent per ounce with a cap.

Tom Jenkins is very friendly and helpful. tjenkins@ipourit.com

Pour My Beer - www.pourmybeer.com

Pour My Beer totally deserve an award for their marketing. Their website is a treasure trove of valuable information, complemented by a plethora of educational YouTube videos. They assert themselves as the most cost-effective and reliable system provider with top-notch support. If their support team matches their marketing skills, I believe them. According to Pour My Beer, they have never been replaced and offer the lowest total cost of ownership, the most dependable system, and the best support. Additionally, they offer a 3-year warranty. Pour My Beer now includes installation of both the draft system and software, a service that was not available when I was making my decision.


Here is my sincere review of my experience with Table Tap. They don't employ aggressive marketing tactics, making locating them challenging during my search for companies. Being the most established and experienced, I felt at ease choosing them. I also liked the idea of using a different system than the other self-pour taprooms I've visited in Florida because, of course, I have to be different :D

Their monthly prices were comparable to Pour My Beer. Another factor in my decision to go with Table Tap was that, at the time, they were the only ones among the three who completed the installation entirely on the front wall and in the walk-in cooler. I appreciated the concept of a turnkey installation without needing another company to install the draft components. All products carry a one-year warranty, and the beer system components also have the standard manufacturer's warranty.

***( To jump forward a bit, I will tell you that I am satisfied with Table Tap's service. They are highly responsive to all my inquiries, no matter how trivial. It has been a learning process as I go along. Due to time constraints faced by the installation technician, who had to catch a flight, and the other technician, who had to leave for another job, we only received about an hour of training on the system. While this may not always be the case, I would suggest a more extended training session. Fortunately, I recorded the training and could replay it as there was so much information to absorb quickly that it was in one ear and out the other. However, there are backend tutorials provided that are very beneficial.

Like the other companies, they require payment for travel, food, and accommodation during installation. This cost was higher than expected, but it is unavoidable. Rick, Jason, and Christian were all great during the installation and were available afterward to help me with questions over the phone. (Special mention to Christian, who is no longer with the company. He went above and beyond to assist me without making me feel like a dumb girl. He was exceptionally knowledgeable and supportive)

*I do wish the system had a tap-to-pour method instead of inserting an RFID card. Because it has to be ADA compliant, the RFID slot used to insert the card is low and hard to see. I wasn't aware of this before the system was installed, and I don't prefer the RFID card insertion method. Apart from that, I have been satisfied with Table Tap and would recommend them.




So, anyhoo, I got to work writing a bad-ass business plan that would be a blueprint for success and would pave the way for my self-pour taproom dream to become a reality. (I'm an Indie fiction writer, so that was the easiest part. (insert shameless plug here> www.deedeecovasbooks.com)


Now that I decided on Table Tap it was time to finalize my novel of a business plan. It had an engaging plot with well-developed character. It was funny and informative. Seriously, though, your business plan is the core of your project, and I can't stress enough that it will set the tone going forward. You can always tweak it as you go, but do your research, bind it, give it a good cover, and make it pretty. Banks and landlords will ask for it. So even if you haven't written a novel before, your business plan needs a structured narrative consisting of an introduction, action, and a resolution. Outline your vision and then research how to make it happen in an engaging way. Present your data, market analysis, financial projections, and risks clearly to your audience.


A beer and a novel
Write a great business plan

Alrighty Now What?

I was done with my business plan. Now what? I doubted myself, that's what. Should I really do this? I don’t know how to open a business. Only other people do that. I’m a woman in her late forties with retired hormones and an internal tropical climate, TMI. I have no business opening a business…wait. I’m a woman. I did that (nods to teenagers fighting over the bathroom). I have a degree and two professional licenses. I wrote four novels. I can freaking do anything. And I want to do it so I'm gonna freaking do it...

I took every online class from the SBA SBA Learning Platform | U.S. Small Business Administration. Then I set up a free meeting with an SBDC SCORE Counselor SCORE Business Mentoring | U.S. Small Business Administration (sba.gov). He was impressed with my business plan ;) I took his advice and wrote notes. I was ready to take the next step. That same night, I went online and researched how to start an LLC.


Once I started my LLC it was official...Who me? I was officially a business owner. This was my turning point. (Also, the name of my second book...shameless plug)

You can form your business structure yourself. It's easy, but if you don't want to deal with it, I recommend a service like H&R Block hrblock.com or Legal Zoom https://www.legalzoom.com/. They offer many services for small businesses that will be very helpful, such as business formation, bookkeeping, and Taxes.

Oooor, you can be like me and suffer painfully and slowly through every process. I personally like to do things for myself if I can. I learn that way ;)

Once you get your LLC, you must register with the government and get an EIN. Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) online | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov) This is like a social security number for your business. Then, you'll need a DBA if your location name differs from your LLC. You'll need to publish this in a newspaper...for some reason. You'll need these things to open a business bank account.


So, my next step was to get a business bank account. I researched many banks, but the one I chose had a beautiful page with promising SBA loans for start-ups. This gave me hope. I threw any money that came my way into the account while I continued to research and grow. Tax returns, Vid stimulus checks, and all extra money went to the business bank account. (It seemed like a lot of money to a broke bit*% like me)


This is Happening!

I’m finally ready to apply for an SBA loan through the bank that gave me so much hope.

"Oh, sorry. We don’t loan to places that sell alcohol. But I really like your business plan. I've never read a funny business plan."

So, I applied through another bank...and then another. "We’re sorry, you’ve been denied because you’ve never owned a business and don’t have enough money." Dang, and here I thought I had a lot of cash saved, but it wasn't enough. Denied, denied, denied.


This isn't Happening.

Denied, denied, denied. Stay tuned to my next blog about getting start-up funding if you're a broke bit*% like me. And "Location, Location, Location." Spoiler alert: It did happen...eventually.



beer
Getting funding for a self-pour taproom

In the meantime.

I wasn't giving up. I told myself it just wasn't the right time. I believe it'll happen when it's supposed to. In the meantime, I did more research. I learned all the stuff I didn't already know about beer besides drinking it. History, types, breweries, equipment, kegs etc. I also started to work on a website that would be ready to publish when the time came. I already use WIX for my books and am happy with it. Wix also has great tutorials: https://wix.com




*(FYI, I'm an Amazon Affiliate, so I get a tiny commission from Amazon links on my blogs if you purchase through the link at no cost to you.)

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