How Do I Open and Start an Ice Cream Business on a Small Shoestring Budget?

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Because there may be numerous ice cream stores that already exist in your city, think of ways to make your idea stand out from the competition. For example, if there are a lot of corporate chain ice cream stores, such as Baskin-Robbins or Cold Stone Creamery, in your area, localize the concept. Open an ice cream business that serves ice cream primarily with flavors that come from foods that are grown in statewide, such as strawberries, oranges, pineapples and cacao beans. One good source of funding is to obtain small loans from relatives. Create a contract that states the amount of money you're receiving and when the money will be repaid.

Apply for grants. Visit the local branch of the Small Business Administration. Meet with a representative to discuss the types of grants that are available and how to apply for them. Also contact local nonprofit business organizations to ask about the grants that they offer to new entrepreneurs. If they give you the names of websites, visit those websites and apply for grants. Another idea is to visit the websites of local and state governmental agencies to research any grants that are available.

Hold a fundraiser. Get together with your church members and pastor, neighbors, relatives and good friends. Tell them about your goal of opening a neighborhood ice cream store. Discuss ideas for a fundraiser. Choose the type of fundraiser. Create colorful fliers that describe the purpose of your fundraiser and the date, place and time of the event. To market the business at the fundraiser, serve samples of the ice cream you plan sell.

Earn extra income and increase your savings. If possible, seek a part-time job that will boost your weekly income. Deposit any leftover money after paying bills in your savings account. Another way to earn extra income is by doing informal work on the weekends. If you're skilled at plumbing and carpentry work, offer to repair house fixtures for neighbors and church members for a fee. To recruit additional customers, create business cards that state your services, hours of operation and costs.

Locate a reliable and experienced business partner. A partner helps bear the burden of funding the business. For instance, approach two childhood friends who work in human resources but are interested in starting a business. Meet with potential partners to discuss the ice cream store. Determine whether they have business experience. Discuss ways they can contribute to your new venture.

Find cost-effective ways to promote the business. Prepare small frozen cups of ice cream. Place them in boxes filled with dry ice. Distribute the samples to schools, universities, church events, business expos, hair salons and barbershops, and kids' party supply stores in the area. Create fliers to post on bulletin boards inside of hospitals, coffeehouses and bakeries.

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About the Author

Thea Theresa English is a freelance writer who lives in New Orleans. She has written articles on career development, maintaining healthy relationships, politics and cultural issues. She is currently a graduate student at Tulane University where she will receive her Master of Liberal Arts degree.

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