If you’ve been trudging down a career path that leaves something to be desired in the fun department, consider launching an enterprise that can magically morph a nickel’s worth of sugar into a 90 percent profit: Become a cotton candy tycoon. Sure, dentists might not be thrilled by your career choice, but truth be told, members of the profession will benefit, too. Cotton candy is more than just fluff. It’s nostalgia. Great memories. Experiences laced with joy—and you can be the provider of all of this for a modest investment. Now that’s sweet.
Sell your local lending institution on the idea of giving you a loan based on documentation that proves you can turn a modest start-up investment into a profit as a result of the detailed goals, objectives, mission statement, budget, SWOT analysis and other components of your business plan. Arrive at your meeting with investors with financial and marketing ammunition guaranteed to convince them of your determination and the future success of your cotton candy enterprise.
Obtain licenses and permits required of all business owners venturing into the food service arena. Check state and local laws to obtain protocols and procedures required of all businesses handling ingredients that go into the storage, preparation and delivery of cotton candy at the point of sale. Learn everything you can about the safe preparation of this treat to avoid health and safety issues down the road. Add liability insurance to your business coverage.
Purchase the equipment and supplies you’ll need to launch your cotton candy business (find link below). Include in your shopping list an industrial cotton candy machine, cart, bags, cones, flavorings, sugar and other ingredients. Purchase used equipment if your budget is limited; new equipment if possible. Always choose professional-grade equipment as this can mean the difference between mixing 20 ounces of cotton candy in an hour vs. 200 ounces.
Consider a buying a trailer or food prep vehicle from which you can make and serve the confectionery treat on site at entertainment venues. Add this big-ticket item to your list of essentials and your initial start-up capital will easily increase from a modest $10,000 to $50,000.
Identify sales location opportunities and conceive a master calendar to bookmark events. Consider fairs, carnivals, sports events, school and religious festivals, community events, park and recreation events, swap meets, flea markets and other large gatherings known to attract families. Book your participation early to beat out competitors. Plan to pay exhibitor fees and you may also be asked to provide health department documentation when you make application to exhibit.
Be aggressive when launching your marketing, advertising and public relations plans. Appear at events that make TV or newspaper headlines and you’ll raise your profile when time comes to promote your cotton candy business. Get involved in your chamber of commerce, Rotary Club and other service organizations from which you’ll receive referrals and future opportunities to book additional clients and dates.
Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.