You’re looking to start an ice cream shop – kudos to you.  One of the major stumbling blocks ahead of you is cash.  Every ice cream shop experience a lean time, usually in the off season when buyers are looking for hot soup instead of cold cream.  Here’s how to make a business plan that will hopefully overcome this, and other obstacles.


Work in an Ice Cream Shop

The first part of your plan should include working in an ice cream shop similar to the type you’d like to run.  This might sound obvious at first, but many new business owners skip this step, believing that they already know what they want to open and how it will be run.

Experienced business owners have the benefit of hindsight.  Take a tip from the pros: work in an ice cream place before you open or buy one for yourself.

Business Planning for Turning Ice Cream into Cash

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blue ice cream truck by cranky messiah, on Flickr.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.


Interview Ice Cream Shop Owners

Interview a shop owner before you go headlong into your own ice cream shop.  What you’ll find is that ice cream shop owners generally fall into one of two categories.  First, there are the commodity sellers.  These are the shop owners who make their money on volume.

The shops they run compete on price, which is a tough business.  It’s hard to break into a market by undercutting your competitor because you need the money.  Usually, it’s the established shops, stands, and trucks that are able to pull this off.

But, there’s another type of ice cream shop that’s becoming popular and that’s the boutique shop.  Boutique shops offer premium ice cream and something that the commodity-driven shops don’t: value.

Customers are turning away from commodity, price, and “quantity” driven businesses and looking to value-oriented companies these days.  Value-based shops do things like custom ice cream cups, seasonal ice creams, and they often use premium ingredients like milk and cream from pastured cows and organic sugar and other ingredients.

Which is better?  That’s for you to decide.  Commodity shops tend to be large operations – certainly larger than their boutique counterparts.  But, boutique shops can easily outpace commodity shops in profits since they sell ice cream at premium prices.


Get Your Financials in Order

You’ll need money for your new ice cream place, but how much depends on what type of shop you plan on opening.  For a small stand or a truck, you can get by with $5,000 or $10,000, respectively.  For a retail store, you may need $20,000 up to $100,000 or more.

If you buy into a franchise, plan on spending several hundred thousand dollars.  What do you get for all that money?  You get a large marketing campaign that promotes your franchise operation, sales support, a guarantee of consistency in product, and name recognition.


Get Tax Help and Legal Help

Don’t forget to do your taxes.  You’ll need the help of a good CPA and a lawyer for taxes and for your business structure.  Most businesses incorporate, but you can decide on that based on how large you want to grow and how complicated you want your business to be.  There are advantages and disadvantages to incorporating that you should discuss with an attorney.


Regina Johnson once had her own ice cream truck in sunny California.  Now retired, she likes to spend her time caring for her grandchildren and writing about the ice cream field. Look for her engaging articles on many websites today.


Arnel Ariate is the webmaster of Money Soldiers.

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