Many entrepreneurs became entrepreneurs because they grew tired of the corporate world.
Working in your cubicle. E-mailing or IMing your colleagues. Calling your vendors and clients. And sitting through meeting after meeting after meeting in a conference room.
Nowadays, entrepreneurs can tailor their workday experience any way they want it. They can work out of their home. They can manage projects online. They can give presentations over the Web to clients and vendors around the world.
And when they have to meet face to face, they can pick and choose their location. Like, say… a bar!
More and more deals, especially those involving creative individuals and trend-conscious companies, are being formulated, discussed, and sealed in bars. This approach has some logic to it: entrepreneurs may be busy steering the ship and fighting fires during business hours, so they don't have time to meet prospective new clients or discuss long-term arrangements. So the meeting gets pushed until after hours. And no one likes to be in any kind of office during the evening – so why not move the powwow to the watering hole nearby?
That said, it's not a good idea to pick any bar at random for your potentially-important business discussion. The establishment must have the right qualities in order for you and your colleagues to accomplish your goals.
Here are the vital aspects to a "business bar."
Staff. Waiters and waitresses must be friendly, attentive, and patient. Attitude, sporadic appearances, and a "hurry up" vibe are unacceptable and can sour the mood of your meeting. The staff must also be okay with the fact that you may spend a few hours at a table if the meeting kicks into high gear.
Seating. Do anything you can to get a nice, roomy booth where you can stretch out a bit. If that is impossible, opt for a corner table or a few tables pushed together - as long as there's enough "breathing room" between you and other guests (you don't want to have to worry about eavesdropping). Getting a good table may require a pre-emptive tip for the hostess or maitre d'.
Volume. Definitely avoid places that are too loud. You don't want to have to shout to be heard by your tablemates. Be aware that a half-empty bar may fill up and get noisier as your meeting progresses. By the same token, you don't want a place that is so deathly quiet that you feel that anything you say will be heard by everyone else in the establishment.
Lighting. You'd be surprised how illumination sets the tone for a meeting. A bar that is too dark hinders the reading of facial cues and expressions. But one that is too bright may be harsh and unflattering to its patrons.
Offerings. Your clients may not avail themselves of it, but make sure the bar has a wide variety of alcohol options. That means a full range of liquor and wine, some of which is top shelf quality. As for food, aim for a place with an appealing yet sophisticated bar menu – or at least some interesting snacks that are classier than popcorn or pretzels.
Crowd. An ideal business bar has compelling, upscale patrons in attendance. They don't have to be athletes, moguls, or movie stars – just people who will add to the décor of the place. Avoid rowdy pubs or pickup bars like the plague.
Once you've settled on the perfect business bar, make sure you get there early for your scheduled meeting. This not only assures that you won't be left waiting in the entry alcove for a table, but also allows you to attract the attention of the waitstaff who will be serving you - so you know who to call for a drink or a bite to eat. Then all that's left is to relax, chat, drink… and do business!