You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple step guide to starting your axe-throwing party business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How long it will take you to break even?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening an axe-throwing party business?
Costs can be rather high. The most expensive aspect of starting this business is getting an insurance company to agree to insure the activity. Many insurers don’t understand the business model. As a result, some ranges pay between $10,000 and $25,000 in premium per month for liability coverage.
Other expenses include the cost of throwing axes, which retail from $20 up to $150 per axe.
If you run a mobile axe-throwing range, then you will need to factor in the cost of a truck or van and a trailer to haul equipment to venues and events. This can add anywhere between $25,000 to $50,000 to the initial startup cost.
In addition to the insurance and equipment, there’s the range itself. A typical range needs safety cages, wooden stand-up targets, a treated floor to prevent slips and falls, proper lighting, and safety equipment for customers. Unless you are leasing an existing (or old) range, expect to pay between $50,000 and $150,000 to remodel a building for your business.
What are the ongoing expenses for an axe-throwing party business?
Ongoing expenses include insurance, utilities, and maintenance on the equipment (axes and related gear). Periodic replacement of safety gear is also recommended. These costs may amount to between $3,000 and $20,000 per month, depending on how expensive your insurance is and how much abuse your equipment suffers during normal use.
Who is the target market?
Preferred customers are those who are gaming enthusiasts. Axe-throwing also appeals to a wide range of other audiences, some of which include the vape community, cigar community, and firearms enthusiasts.
How does an axe-throwing party business make money?
Most axe-throwing companies make money by charging a per-hour or flat fee for axe-throwing, either at the business’s location, at a mobile range set up at a customer’s home or business, or at at an amusement park or fair. Another way that these businesses make money is by hosting weekly axe throwing leagues sponsored by the National Axe Throwing League (NATL). League participants are charged a fee.
How much can you charge customers?
Range fees can vary between $10 and $20 per person for “open range” throwing, up to $30 to $50 per person for private events. Some ranges charge per hour, while others set a flat-fee for a day’s worth of throwing or for a specific number of hours.
How much profit can an axe-throwing party business make?
Earning potential varies based on size. A small business can bring in up to $100,000 in its first year, with good marketing and strong a community presence. As your company grows, that revenue could swell to between $500,000 and $1 million per year.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Adding profit to your axe throwing range is a matter of decreasing costs and adding revenue streams. Some businesses choose to add food preparation services, a bar, or a cigar bar or smoking room, and other related activities.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your axe-throwing party business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
For most small businesses forming an LLC is a great option, but if you still want to weigh all your options check our our article, What Structure Should I Choose for My Business?
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate an axe throwing range business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Certificate of Occupancy
A axe throwing business is generally run out of a building. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a axe throwing business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your axe throwing business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
To avoid liability and potential lawsuits, axe throwing businesses should have their clients sign waivers.
Businesses involved in the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to obtain a liquor license from the appropriate state or local agency. A comprehensive list of laws by state (including necessary licenses, zoning laws, etc), curated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, is included here.
When selling food, you will need licensing from a local health department; all establishments serving food are required to pass a health inspection. Tips for faring well on a health inspections
There are federal regulations regarding what can and cannot be added to, sold as, and processed with food. Attached is a resource from the Food and Drug Administration detailing the process of starting a food business: How to Start a Food Business
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
How to promote & market an axe-throwing party business
Marketing is typically done word-of-mouth. Many of your customers will be repeats who will refer their friends and family. When first starting out, it may be helpful to distribute business cards, fliers, and run a few ads in your local paper or run a small local pay-per-click campaign.
Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.
How to keep customers coming back
Running an axe-throwing range is already pretty unique. On the off chance you have local competitors, consider teaming up with the others to host a competition. You could also offer supplementary services, like bar and cigar sales or prepared foods.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start An Axe-Throwing Party Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
This business is right for individuals who enjoy games and gaming (specifically, axe-throwing), have good business sense, and want to entertain others and teach them how to throw axes.
What happens during a typical day at an axe-throwing party business?
Day-to-day activities of this business include setting up and breaking down the range, making sure all customers understand basic safety procedures before axe-throwing begins, and managing customer expectations. Business owners are usually involved with major venue planning and corporate decisions about whether the company will manage a mobile range or just a local one.
Companies also usually make customers sign a liability waiver before they participate.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful axe-throwing party business?
Obviously it helps to know how to throw an axe. Other than that, business owners need to have a good business sense and deep understanding of the gaming and entertainment industries.
What is the growth potential for an axe-throwing party business?
This business can be run as a small local range or as a franchise. Small ranges usually operate as sole proprietors or LLCs. Minimum staff varies between 1 and 5 people. Larger axe-throwing ranges can employ 10 to 20 people or more and can include both local and mobile ranges for parties and events.
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One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
What are some insider tips for jump starting an axe-throwing party business?
Since this is still a budding industry, jump starting your business is usually as easy as getting the word out in your local community. Offer a “bring your own beer” (BYOB) incentive and host a grand opening to celebrate. Invite all your friends, family, local business owners, and members of the community.
How and when to build a team
For safety reasons, you should have 1 dedicated employee for every 2 customers who are throwing. At minimum, this means a small range could have anywhere between 3 and 5 full-time employees. Larger ranges may employ 5 to 10 or more full-time employees.