Do you want to start a popsicle store? If YES, here is a 20-step guide on how to start a profitable popsicle store business with no money and no experience. If you intend starting this type of business, it is advisable to first look at the existing laws and zonal regulations in the country or state you reside in to know what is expected of you.
You also need to pay a visit to the regulatory body in your country to get all the information on what you need to do before you can legally open your popsicle business in your city. You can start your business from a small town in the United States and if you are good at what you do, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand especially if you go into franchising.
Table of Content
- What is a Popsicle?
- 1. Understand the Industry
- Interesting Statistics About the Industry
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
- 7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
- 8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- The Service Delivery Process of a Popsicle Store Business
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies
- 17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
- 18. Develop an Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
- 19. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
- 20. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
What is a Popsicle?
A popsicle is a water or milk-based frozen snack on a stick. Unlike ice cream or sorbet, which are whipped and freezed to prevent ice crystal formation, an ice pop is “quiescently” frozen—frozen while at rest—and becomes a solid block of ice. Basically, popsicle is 90 percent water. Its other ingredients are sugar, corn syrup, gum, and stabilizers. These ingredients give the popsicle a texture called “mouth feel” that makes it pleasant to eat.
20 Steps on How to Start a Popsicle Store Business
1. Understand the Industry
The Ice Cream Production industry of which popsicle deserts line of business belongs to has come a long way and it is still evolving with a good number of popsicle desert makers bringing in creativity in terms of flavors, packaging and mode of selling.
It is on record that many players in the Ice Cream Production/ice cream truck industry were able to successfully beat the economic downturn and grow strongly over the last five years, as healthy and nutritious popsicle, snow cones and ice cream became one of America’s favorite frozen desserts.
The increasing popularity of the dessert has enabled the speedy franchise growth of well-known brands in the industry which has made this industry one of the foodservice sector’s biggest success stories of the past decade. The ice cream production/ice cream truck industry has remained resilient even as other food segments waned during recession.
Interesting Statistics About the Industry
The Ice Cream Production/ice cream truck industry is indeed a thriving and profitable industry in most countries of the world. It is a major sector of the economy of the United States of America and they generate over $8 billion annually from more than 373 registered and licensed ice cream production cum ice cream truck companies (popsicle production inclusive). The industry is responsible for the employment of over 18,474 people. Experts project that the industry will grow at a 0.3 percent annual rate between 2011 and 2016.
One of the great benefits of starting a popsicle business is low startup costs, and entrepreneurs interested in starting the business can chose to either rent or buy new equipment and also either to operate a mobile popsicle truck or operate from a fixed facility (kiosk or shop).
The popsicle business will continue to blossom because people will always want to take popsicles when they are out in the open especially during summer. Despite the fact that the industry seems over-saturated, there is still room big enough to accommodate aspiring entrepreneurs.
If you are contemplating starting your own popsicle business in the United States, you should ensure that you carry out a thorough market survey and feasibility studies. States in the southern region in the United States such as Texas and Florida et al can be ideal for a popsicle truck business because of the climatic condition there. If you get some key factors wrong before starting your popsicle business, then you are likely going to struggle to stay afloat.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who buy popsicle and related desserts cut across all genders and age groups; male and female, adults and children all consume popsicle hence the demographic composition of a popsicle business is all encompassing.
The truth is that, when it comes to selling popsicle and other ice desserts, there is indeed a wide range of available customers. In essence, your target market can’t be restricted to just a group of people, but to all those that reside around the locations where you have your popsicle shop and who have purchasing power.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
It is important to state that there are no niche ideas when it comes to the popsicle business because popsicle business is a niche idea in the ice cream production industry. It also is important to note that some popsicle businesses may decide to operate as a food truck as against operating from a store or stand.
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The competitions that exist in the popsicle business goes beyond competitions amongst popsicle shops in your location; you are expected to compete with snow cone shops, ice cream shops, mobile food trucks, and any other outlets that also sell popsicle and other ice desserts. Thus, it will be right to say the competition in the popsicle business is tough.
The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your products or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure you are good at preparing the different flavors of ice desserts you have on your menu; you can deliver excellent customer care services and you know how to attract and reach out to your target market.
But over and above, there are several popsicle shops, snow cone shops, ice cream shops, mobile food trucks, and any other outlets that also sell popsicle scattered all around the United States. So, if you choose to start your own popsicle shop business in the United States, you will definitely meet stiff competitions amongst snow cone shops, ice cream trucks/shops, mobile food trucks, and any other outlets that also sells ice desserts.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
Here are some of the most popular popsicle stores in the United States of America;
- ABBAletas Popsicle Shop
- Las Paletas
- The Hyppo St. Petersburg
- Steel City Pops
- Local Pops
- Lil Pop Shop
- King of Pops Cart (Piedmont Park @ Charles Allen)
- Mom and Popsicle
- King of Pops Windows
- The Pop Parlour
If you are looking towards successfully launching a business and maximizing profits, then you need to ensure that you get your economic and cost analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.
Popsicle shop business is not a green business, as a matter of fact; you will come across several popsicle shops and other outlets that also sell popsicle and ice desserts when you drive through town. So, if you are mapping out your economic and cost analysis, you should carry out thorough market survey on what it costs to rent a space where you are expected to open your popsicle shop business and the amount required to purchase popsicle making machines (blenders), refrigerators, ice block making machines, coolers, assorted flavor supply and also the cost to successfully run the business.
If you are considering starting a popsicle business, then your concern should not be limited to the cost of renting a shop facility and purchasing supplies, but also on branding and on how to build a robust clientele base. The truth is that if you are able to build a robust clientele base, you are sure going to maximize profits in the business.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
When it comes to starting a business of this nature, it will pay you to buy the franchise of a successful and well – established popsicle brand as against starting from the scratch. Even though it is relatively expensive buying the franchise of an established popsicle brand, but it will definitely pay you in the long run.
But if you truly want to build your own brand after you must have proved your worth in the Ice Cream Production industry, then you might just want to start your own popsicle shop business from the scratch. Starting from the scratch will afford you the opportunity to conduct thorough market survey and feasibility studies before choosing a location to launch the business.
Please note that most successful popsicle brands around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own popsicle shop business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established popsicle shops. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.
Some other challenges and threats that you are likely going to face is economic downturn; if the economy is in bad shape, popsicle shops and other ice desserts usually struggle to maintain their old customers or even welcome new customers. Unfavorable government policies can also hamper the growth of your popsicle business. There is nothing you can do as regards these threats and challenges other than to stay positive that things will work well for you.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
Generally, you can either choose a general partnership, limited liability company, or a sole proprietorship for your popsicle store. Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale popsicle store especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital in a small neighborhood.
But if your intention is to grow the business and have chains of popsicle stores across the United States of America via franchising, then choosing sole proprietor is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
Normally, when it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Typically, it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policies that are required by the industry you want to operate from. Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business.
Here are some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own popsicle store in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Risk Insurance
- Workers compensation
- Building/Property insurance
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
- Payment protection insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own popsicle shop business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successful run it without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.
But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
When it comes to operating a popsicle shop business, you do not need to have any formal training or special certification. All you need is informal training that will expose you to the in and out of preparing varieties of flavors of popsicle and other ice desserts and also effectively running the business.
On the other hand, if you come across any form of certification that can aid you to conduct your popsicle shop business, then by all means try and pursue such certification.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catches up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your business in the United States of America;
- Business and liability insurance
- Federal Tax Payer’s ID
- State Permit
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Business Plan
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Company Bylaws
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Starting a popsicle shop business can be cost effective especially if you choose to start on a small scale by running a small popsicle shop business in a street corner. Securing a standard and well – positioned store/kiosk facility and purchasing popsicle making machines (blenders and mixers), refrigerators, coolers, assorted popsicle flavors and other supplies, are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital. If you choose to start the business on a large scale, you need to go source for fund to finance the business because it is expensive to start a standard popsicle business.
When it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your popsicle shop business;
- Raise money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell your shares to interested investors
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
When it comes to choosing a location for your popsicle business, the rule of thumb is that you should be guided by the demand for ice desserts and easy access to wholesale purchasing of fresh popsicle supplies directly from wholesale shops. If you are able to secure a central location for your business, it will give people easy access to locate your shop.
It cannot be overemphasized that the location you chose to open your popsicle shop is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consist of people with the require purchasing power and lifestyle. If you make the mistake of renting or leasing a facility for your popsicle business in a not too visible or hidden location simply because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to spend more in promoting the business.
Before choosing a location for your popsicle shop business, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar business that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out.
These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your popsicle business;
- The demography of the location
- The demand for v and other ice desserts in the location
- The purchasing power of the residents of the location
- Accessibility of the location
- The number of popsicle shops, snow cone shops, ice cream shops, mobile food trucks et al and any other outlets that also sell ice desserts in the location
- The local laws and regulations in the community/state
- Traffic, parking and security et al
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
There are no special technology or equipment needed to run this type of business except for popsicle making machines (blenders and mixers), (dishwasher, refrigerator, blender, etc.), Storage hardware (bins, utensil rack, shelves, food case), Counter area equipment (counter top, sink, ice machine, etc.), Computers and receipt issuing machines, Point of Sale Machines (POS Machines), CCTV Cameras and Flat Screen TVs.
You will also need computers, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.
As regard leasing or outright purchase of a facility, the choice is dependent on your financial standings, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short-term rent/lease while test running the business in the location. If things work out as planned, then you go on a long – term lease or outright purchase of the property but if not, then move on and source for other location/facility for such business.
When it comes to hiring employees for a standard popsicle business with more than one outlet, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Executive Officer (you can occupy this role), Shop Manager, Popsicle Machine Operators, and Cleaners. On the average, you will need a minimum of 2 to 5 key staff members to run a small-scale but standard popsicle business.
The Service Delivery Process of a Popsicle Store Business
When it comes to the business service process of popsicle business, there are no hard and fast rules about it. Basically, it is the duty of the merchandize manager to purchase assorted popsicle flavors and packaging/serving materials. They source for good purchasing deals and they also ensure that they only purchase at the right prices that will guarantee them good profits.
Once the business is in full operation, the popsicle and other ice desserts are prepared and listed on the menu. These products are usually take away because they may not have the capacity to accommodate all their customers per – time.
It is important to state that a popsicle business may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies
The fact that the entry barrier for a small-scale popsicle business is not high means that there is bound to be more players in the industry no matter the location you choose to start yours. In essence, you must come up with unique marketing strategies if you must carve out a market for yourself.
So, when you are drafting your marketing plans, make sure that you create a compelling company profile. This will help boost your chances in the market. Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your popsicle store;
- Introduce your popsicle store by sending introductory letters alongside your catalog to schools, churches, parks, households and key stake holders in and around the location where your popsicle store is located
- Open your popsicle store with a party so as to capture the attention of residents who are your first targets
- Print out fliers and business cards and strategically drop them in offices, libraries, public facilities and train stations et al.
- Making your first impression count positively to those that patronize popsicles and other ice deserts for the first time
- Make use of attractive hand bills to create awareness and also to give direction to your store
- Engage in roadshow in targeted communities from time to time to market your popsicle store
- Advertise your services in community – based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
- List your business and products on yellow pages ads (local directories)
- Leverage on the internet to promote your popsicle store
- Engage in direct marketing and sales
- Encourage the use of word of mouth marketing (referrals)
- Leverage on the internet to promote your popsicle store (when you blog regularly on key issues as it relates to your business, people who consider you an expert in the field)
- Join local chambers of commerce and industries around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your popsicle store; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
- Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing for you.
17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
One key factor that will help you sell your popsicle and other ice desserts at rock bottom prices is to purchase your ingredients directly from wholesalers in pretty large quantities. The truth is the higher the quantity of items that you purchase directly from wholesalers, the cheaper you tend to get them.
Another strategy that will help you retail your popsicles at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum, and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your products.
If you are able to secure business partnership as it relates to getting referrals, then you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits from your business.
18. Develop an Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
The availability of a wide range of popsicle flavors in your store, your business process and of course your pricing model are part of what you need to stay competitive in the industry.
Another possible competitive strategy for winning your competitors in this particular industry is to build a robust clientele base. Over and above, ensure that your organization is well positioned, key members of your team are highly qualified and your product can favorably compete with the some of the best in the industry.
19. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your products and service delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers.
If your services and customer service fluctuate, you are likely going to struggle to get your customers retaining your services. Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and of course continue to generate repeated sales from them and also to attract new customers.
Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building a loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.
With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all, you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).
20. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you are in business and you are not conscious about boosting your brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend money to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them.
No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and boosting to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and create a corporate identity for your popsicle store;
- Place adverts on both print (newspapers and magazines) and electronic media platforms
- Sponsor relevant community – based events
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your popsicle store
- Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
- Engage in roadshows from time to time in targeted neighborhoods to create awareness of your popsicle store
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
- List your popsicle store business in local directories / yellow pages
- Advertise your popsicle store in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
- Position our Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your popsicle store is located.
- Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles are branded with your company logo.