Have you ever fantasized about quitting your job and starting your own business? Something fun and easy, like owning an ice cream parlor? It sounds like the ultimate dream job, doesn’t it!  Well, believe it or not, owning an ice cream parlor is a much more realistic prospect than you might think. I mean, lots of other people have done it, why not you?  But before you go withdrawing your life savings and quit your job, you should stop and consider the realities of owning your own business. For example, do you even know where you would buy your own industrial ice cream maker? Fresh homemade products are a must for indie ice cream spots!

If you’ve been dreaming about starting an ice cream business, read on to find out what it takes to start a parlor of your own!

First Things First: Have a Vision

To a first-time business owner, it seems like ice cream should sell itself. Who doesn’t want ice cream? But in reality, it isn’t so easy.

Do you know what kind of shop you’re going to have? Is it a walk-in shop or a pickup window? Are you making your own ice cream, and if not, who are you buying it from?

These are just a few of the questions you need to know before getting started. And not just because it’s good for creativity. It will help you decide how much money you need and where your store should go.

If you are making your treats in-house, you need to find a space with enough square footage for a kitchen. If you want a small pickup window, are you going to have outdoor seating? Knowing what your business will look like helps you pick a location.

And as we all know, the three most important things in business are location, location, location!

Once you have your vision put together, you can draw up plans for the next step: finances.

Entering the Ice Cream Market

Unless you’re seriously wealthy, you will need to get a loan from a bank to start your business. And banks like to see lots of planning. It assures them that you know what you’re doing and can be trusted with their money.

Equipment purchasing will be the most important part of this plan. You can’t skimp on equipment because it is essential for the health and safety of your employees and customers. Shoddy equipment leads to bad user experience and maybe even legal trouble!

You’ll need to find out where to purchase an industrial ice cream maker, freezers, scoops, ingredients… just to name a few! Put together a plan for your bank that details the cost of every item and who you’re going to buy it from.

You’ll also need to think about rent and other ongoing costs. How much ice cream do you need to sell to keep yourself in business, pay back your loan, all while turning a profit?

Finally, you need to factor in advertising costs. No one wants to eat at a drab ice cream parlor. You will need a graphic designer, a sign painter, and nice furniture to advertise your business. Every business needs a personality, so think about your target audience and what they desire.

You’ll Need More Than an Industrial Ice Cream Maker.

You will have to do your leg work before you can get the all-important loan you need to start your business. Did you know that most places that sell food need a license from the county before they can operate? It may be helpful to get advice from a lawyer to make sure you have ticked all the legal boxes before visiting the bank, so you look really on the ball.

You will also need to hire contractors to install all of your equipment and furniture. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can rely on your friends to donate their time to you! No one can tackle the work of fixing up a new business alone, not in time to satisfy their investors.

What kind of ice cream can you afford? You may want to open an all-organic, artisanal frozen custard stand, but can you afford that? Or would that mean that only three flavors can be available on the menu?

The last major thing that your business plan needs to include regards your future employees. How many do you have to have, how much will you pay them, and what benefits will they get? It’s a headache, but you will need to figure all of this out with the county government and your insurance company for your financial plan to be complete.

You should only go to the bank after you’ve covered all the bases. You won’t get many second chances to pitch your business idea!

Important Concepts: Capital Outlay

So, everyone knows about profit, the money you get to take home at the end of the day. But what do you call the money used to pay for the cost of opening and maintaining your business? That’s called capital outlay!

This is an important term to know because it shows the bank that you know owning a business, even one as fun as an ice cream parlor requires planning and financial sense. When you show them a capital outlay plan, it shows that you really know your stuff!

Ice Cream Is Not All Fun and Games!

It’s important to go into a business that brings you joy. Otherwise, you won’t have the motivation to go through all of the rigamarole and headaches that any opening any business requires.

And you can’t just buy an industrial ice cream maker and expect to get up and running. There is a lot of legal and financial homework you will have to do before expecting to be successful!

If you want expert help, we can draw up a customized business plan for you. We have helped dozens of small ice cream businesses get their start. Let us help you be the next success story!