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Open escape room business. Part 1
(time of reading 7 min)
Creating your very own business – and an escape room is no exception – starts from the business plan. The budget is in its foundation so that is where you need to start.

The escape room business has two advantages in terms of budget – it doesn't necessary require particularly large startup capital and allows you to reach the point of break-even as well as get back the money you invested relatively fast (approximately in 2 and 5-6+ months respectively). It is still quite a new line of business that allows you to fill in certain niches depending on your creativity and marketing policy. This is also a very popular choice for family business.

The approximate sum to start your own escape room can vary a lot depending on your country and city, the size of your market, your vision of the escape room and a handful of other factors. If you are only starting your business, you can found out what the averages are for starting the escape room business by researching the costs associated with it and the market itself.
To create a successful escape room business plan that includes all possible expenses, you have to conduct a market study to find out whether your market is small or big.

Small markets include cities where there are little to none escape rooms and/or population is relatively small, big markets are big cities with competitive business environment, where for example you could never visit all the escape rooms visiting one a week.

The state of the market eventually dictates the costs (especially the pricings of the entry fees) and startup budget. The more competitive the market is, the more money you will have to invest to stand up to your rivals, as the industry tends to more complicated and tech-driven games in big markets especially. Regardless of the size of your market, you will have to include a handful of different types of expense.
Investment budget
Before you start creating the escape room business plan, you have to consider the following startup expenses to put in into the investment budget column:

1) Creating a legal entity (creating the entity itself, state tolls, legal consulting and support if needed etc. – the whole list depends on your local legislation and the type of the legal entity you are planning to create) – this should be your first and foremost step;

2) Opening a bank account plus acquiring system (which enables payments by credit cards for your customers);

3) Lease fee and community charges for the construction/renovation period plus lease deposit (usually for one or two months);

4) Various renovation expenses (building and decoration materials, ventilation, water and electricity supply, contractor's fee etc.);

5) Creating an escape room scenario (if it is ordered from contractor) – in case it is your first escape room business we suggest to order it rather than create it all by yourself;

6) Props and puzzles for the room (could be ordered ready-made from the contractor, or you can order some part of the props and create the other by yourself or with the help of an electrician; do not forget to include his fee in such case) – please note that those can make up to a significant part of your budget;

7) Furniture for the escape room (sometimes it is not included if you order your room on a turn-key basis);

8) Furniture for the location (reception/table for the operator, sofa/chairs and a table for the waiting lounge, lockers and hangers for customers' belongings etc.);
    Pro-tip: The startup capital should also cover at least part of the operating costs for the first couple of months of the escape room business, especially regarding the rent fee, which is the bulk of your operational costs.
    9) Creating your brand identity (logo etc.);

    10) Creating and designing a website for your escape room and a booking system for it – do not hesitate to invest in it because this is literally the face of your business;

    11) Signboard for your location;

    12) Installing video surveillance system;

    13) Alarm installing;

    14) Insurance – the most important things to cover are the props and expensive equipment;

    15) Marketing expenses for the pre-opening promotional campaign (online advertising, offline promotional campaign plus materials for it)

    16) Fire safety equipment according to your country norms and regulations;

    17) Multimedia package (audio system for the room, monitors for the reception, camera for winners' photoshoots);

    18) Accessories pack (for the escape room winners photoshoots – for example, tablets with the escape room's name or hashtags. These might be things, which are handed out to your players at the beginning of the game – i.e. cloaks and magic wands if, for example, you escape room's theme is connected to magic and/or some souvenirs you are handing out after the games – pins, silicone wristbands and so on).

      Before you start creating the escape room business plan, you have to consider the following startup expenses in two parts: investment budget and operational budget. Helpful information about operational budget you will find in our next article.

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