Do you want to start a candy buffet business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a candy buffet business with NO money and no experience.
All over the globe, candy is one confectionery that would always tickle the fancy of kids. Adults also are not left out as there are some adults who still swear by sweets. If you have always been a lover of candy and have been looking for a unique business to start up, then starting a candy buffet business might just be it.
A candy buffet usually involves several types of candies set up beautifully at either a public event (such as a wedding, birthday, business functions) or within a retail store where those who love candies can pick or buy their favorites. Candy buffets are not only meant to be attractive at events, they are usually intended to match with the theme and color scheme of the event.
Before you can however begin your candy buffet business, you must start by conducting a research on the business as a whole; from knowing about wholesale prices as regarding the candies you want to serve, to knowing if you will be having any competition within your region.
Because most of the places where you will be serving the candy buffet will be at events, parties and weddings, it is important that you partner with wedding and event planners. You can even work towards becoming a vendor, that way, you are able to get subcontracting money from already existing planners in the community.
Once you have understood the market which you are going into, it will allow you understand what niches will be suitable for you and who your target market will be. You must ensure that you establish your business legally so as to avoid having any sort of problems with the law.
It is only after you have fulfilled all the legal requirements that you can get in touch with wholesale candy suppliers in order to stock up on inventory. You might need to check with various wholesale suppliers so that you can easily know which prices are cheaper that will allow you make the profit you want.
Ensuring that people are aware of your business is very paramount to the growth and success of your business. When displaying your candies, ensure that you use display containers that are very attractive and unique as this will add to the beauty of your setting.
You can get a photographer to take shots of your display so that you can post them on your website and on your social media platforms.
Asides from this form of promotion, there are several other means by which you can market yourself and you will need to explore these other means in order to be able to stand out and succeed in your candy buffet business. If you are sure this is one business you would like to be a part of, then here is a detailed analysis of the candy industry;
Steps to Starting a Candy Buffet Business
1. Understand the Industry
Candy is part of the confectionery industry and other products in this industry include pastries, ice cream and preserves.
The candy market is termed as one that is seasonal and due to this, sales always shoot up during these seasonal periods which fall in festive seasons. In order to be able to meet up with intense demand especially during festive seasons, candy manufacturers usually source for short term workers.
Even though the candy market is valued at $8 billion annually, it has been on a negative growth of -0.3 percent from 2012 to 2017. There are about 487 candy companies in the united states of America employing more than 17,800 people.
The industry has been seen several challenges recently due to its negative growth especially as the growing health concerns of consumers who are wary of products with high-calorie and high sugar contents and have therefore been shifting their focus to healthier candies. Asides from seeking healthy treats, other consumers have now shifted their focus to chocolates.
Demand for candies is expected to greatly improve especially as operators in the industry have started producing low-caloric and sugar-free product lines. Also, the number of consolidations within the industry has helped increase profit margins despite a rise in competition.
Operators in this industry are also expected to operate in a competitively tough environment, especially as imports have brought more pressure to the industry. The contribution of candy production to the economy is expected to reduce within a decade (2012 to 2022), the industry is said to be in its mature stage.
Part of what has been growing the candy market globally is the fact that consumers have not only increased their expenditure but that the population was becoming more urban in nature. Also, another reason driving the growth of the market is a growing consumer base, as most of these candies are made with children and the young population in mind.
This means that the growth of the candy market is influenced by the growth in population, consumer tastes and preferences as well as disposable income. Large candy manufacturing companies have a significant advantage over the small companies.
Because of the fact that most candies contain a significant amount of sugar, it has been linked with obesity as well as diabetes. This has caused the demand in the industry to slow down. Another reason why the candy market has slowed down is due to promotional campaigns from companies that are selling products that serve to improve the health of consumers.
Despite these drawbacks, the candy market globally is expected to pick up speed especially due to an increase in innovation by large multinational companies and a growing consolidation among several medium and small scale businesses.
Globally, the industry is valued at $140 billion especially as it had an annual growth of 1.3 percent between the periods of 2011 to 2016. There are more than 14,000 candy manufacturing businesses globally employing more than 455,000 people.
While this statistic might look positive, the industry has had to struggle globally over the past five years (2011 to 2016). The reason for the sluggish growth was due to the fact that consumers were becoming more attentive to what they consumed and were therefore looking to limit the amount of candies they took.
The lucrative regions globally for candy manufacturers are Europe, Asia Pacific and North America. This is due to the fact that these regions are seeing a rise in its disposable income, an increase in how candy is consumed amongst different age groups and also growing innovations within these regions.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who take candies cannot be restricted to just young children and teenagers as people not under this demographic also take candies as well. The people who take candies take it for several reasons such as a sweet tooth, cravings or due to an occasion.
Therefore if you are looking to define the demographics for your candy buffet business, you shouldn’t limit your target market to just two groups of likely customers and should strive to expand it to include others as well.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
The candy buffet business is one where various candies are displayed in display cases and settings in order to throw more beauty to an event. The candies that are used in a candy buffet are various types that are unique in size and colour.
Therefore if you are looking to start your candy buffet business, you should ensure that you know the various kinds of candies that exist and how you can mix them in order to beautify the event of your clients. Even though the market is a fairly compact one, some entrepreneurs still choose to specialize in certain areas so that they will stand out from others.
If you are a new entrepreneur into this business, you could concentrate on few kinds of events and then expand to accommodate as much as you can. Below are some of the niche ideas that you can focus on when you intend to start your candy buffet business;
- Pre-teen Birthday Parties
- Vintage Themed Weddings
- Young children birthday parties
- Bridal showers
- Regular weddings
- Baby Showers
- After Parties
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The level of competition in the candy buffet market is such that you have to be located near your target market in order to be able to offer your services. This therefore means that location has a lot to do with the success of your candy buffet business.
The barriers to entry into this business is moderate, however intending entrants who do not have the necessary start-up capital at hand might find it difficult to even go into the business much less compete with already established players. Most candy buffet owners are simply concentrating on their location which means that competition is rife on a regional level.
Therefore, if you are looking to start your candy buffet business in the United States, you should be aware that existing players in the industry already have established networks which they use to get their clients and you will therefore be competing against them.
While large scale companies have an advantage due to their capital, staff strength and offering of other services, smaller companies can always compete by offering personalized services and having a better customer care.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
In every industry, there are brands that are well known due to various reasons such as the way their business is being operated, meeting and exceeding customer expectations, their customer service relationship, and their marketing plus publicity campaigns.
The candy buffet business market is no different as there are brands that stand out as well. Below therefore are some of the well-known candy buffet businesses in the United States of America;
- Pink Candy Buffet
- Sugar Bunch Candy Buffets
- Platinum Candy Buffets
- Treat Me Sweet Candy Buffets
- Groovy Candies
- Party City
- Pittsburg Candy Buffet
- The Candy Buffet Company
- Candy Buffet Creations
- Sweet Love Candy Buffet
- Chicago Wedding Candy Buffet
- Couture Candy Buffets
- Elite Sweets Candy Buffet
- Pretty Sweet Candy Buffets
- Marvalous Candy Buffet
- KCees Candy Buffet
While there is moderate barrier to entry in this industry, the fact that new entrants require certain degree of capital investment has kept some from going into the business. Having to purchase different sorts of candies from wholesale suppliers as well as tools, display cases and other equipment that would make for an effective job, means some people are finding it hard to enter into or thrive in this industry.
The way sweets and candies are being consumed have shifted in recent years. According to studies, increase in heart disease, obesity, diabetes and hormone regulation is caused by excessive sugar. A study from Harvard Medical School has stated that those who took in 25 percent and above of sugar as their daily calories have a high percentage of dying from heart disease.
This increased awareness into what consumers were taking in, saw many people foregoing sugar and candy, therefore leading to a sluggish industry.
This change in customer taste and preferences has caused many companies aside candy companies to look towards diversifying their revenue by including healthier food. However, certain candy companies who haven’t been able to diversify have found their revenue declining.
Even though people are shifting their focus towards healthier consumables, the candy buffet business is one that is still trending because demand for the business increases during occasions and events and because events aren’t all the time, even those that are on healthy consumables can afford to demand for the services of a candy buffet business when the need arises.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
As an entrepreneur looking to start your candy buffet business, you would need to decide whether you want to start your business from scratch or you intend to buy a franchise. Whatever option you decide on should be dependent on what the overall goals and objectives of your business are.
If you want to start a business where you do not want to be bothered about advertising to customers, handling paper work and having to deal with start-up issues; then buying a franchise might be the best option for you. Before buying a franchise though, it is best that you study the different franchises, their capability, their rates and how their goals align with yours.
When starting your business from scratch, you need to be well grounded and be prepared for any challenges that might crop up. Starting a business from scratch has its advantages as this allows the entrepreneur to be well grounded and know about all the aspects of the business.
It also allows the entrepreneur to be proactive, which means that should there be trends that are not favorable to the business; a decision can easily be taken as opposed to waiting for a franchise company to decide. Starting from scratch requires commitment and passion; therefore if you aren’t committed to the business, you might fail before you can even get the business running.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
As an entrepreneur looking to start a business, you should be aware of the likely threats and challenges that will arise and be prepared for it. If you do not prepare adequately for these threats and challenges, they may end up not only becoming an obstacle but lead to the failure of your business.
You should note that while some of these threats and challenges can be easily controlled, others cannot and for these ones, you must remain optimistic.
Some of the challenges and threats that you are therefore likely to face are; having to deal with intense competition from already established candy buffet operators, policies and regulations from government and industry, and competition from new entrants to the same business location.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
As an entrepreneur just starting a business, one of the most important decisions you will ever make regarding the business is what legal entity to use as this decision will have a far reaching impact on your business in the short and especially long run.
There are different kinds of legal entities in existence for entrepreneurs looking to start their business in the United States but not all will be suitable for a candy buffet business.
The easiest way to know what legal entity will be most suitable for you is to check its attributes as this will make you understand which one would favor your business more or you can engage the service of an attorney or visit the city council for guidance.
One thing you should note is that while a legal entity might have basic characteristics, different states usually cause a legal entity to have slight changes; this therefore means that the city with which you intend to run your business will also have an impact on what legal entity you should choose.
For a candy buffet business, you can choose to run your business as a sole proprietor, get into partnership with someone of like mind, or simply choose a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Some entrepreneurs usually start out as sole proprietors then as the business grows and expands, change to an LLC.
In an LLC, the structure though flexible to a certain extent is definitely more formal than the sole proprietorship and partnership. In the LLC, the business is regarded as a separate entity from the owner, which means that the business by law is responsible for any actions and decisions it takes and can sue and be sued.
The separation from owners also implies that the owners’ liability in the business is limited. Also, owners are taxed based on their personal income tax returns. Most entrepreneurs that start out on a large scale usually choose this legal entity and those that start off as sole proprietors or partnership can change to this legal entity later.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
When starting a business, it is necessary that you have a name which you intend to use for your business. Picking a business name that is unique and will catch the attention of your target market isn’t easy and you would need to think long and hard about it.
Some of the catchy business names that you can therefore use for your candy buffet business are;
- Sweet Candy Buffet
- Pretty Candy Buffet
- Beautifully Sweet Candy Buffet
- Pretty Sweet Candy Buffet
- Sweet Drool Candy Buffet
- Sweet Linda’s Candy Buffet
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
When starting any business in the United States of America, it is important that you get the necessary insurance policies that will allow you to run your business smoothly. If you do not have any insurance policies, you might be forced to pay for any incidents or damages out of your pocket, which will cost you more.
If you do not understand what insurance policies to buy for your company, you can engage the services of an insurance agent or broker who will let you know what insurance policies will be best for your business and how you can budget for it. Some of the insurance policies that you should therefore consider purchasing when looking to start your candy buffet business are;
- General Insurance
- Liability Insurance
- Workers Compensation Insurance
- Unemployment Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Auto Insurance
- Property Insurance
- Business Owner’s Policy Group Insurance
- Umbrella Insurance Policy
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
The candy buffet business is one where you purchase various candies from different wholesale suppliers and display them to beautify the event of your clients and also to allow their guests get the candies they want. This business therefore has no need for an intellectual property protection.
Some entrepreneurs however apply for an intellectual property protection for their business names, logo, domain names and any other material they feel is worth protecting from theft. While some apply for an IPP, not all do so and it is therefore not considered compulsory.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
To start and run a candy buffet business, there are no professional certifications needed, just some creative skills to be able to ensure that you display your candies in a way that is pleasing to the eyes.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
When starting a business, there are lists of legal documents that you should have in place so as not to run into any trouble with the law.
Because you intend handling food, it is necessary that you get a permit from the authorities. If you are not sure of what legal documents you might need to be able to start and run your business, you might engage the services of a lawyer or an accountant to help you out.
Some of the legal documents that you would need to be able to start your candy buffet business in the United States of America are;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Business License and Permit
- Business Plan
- Insurance Policies
- Employment agreement
- Food Handlers Permit
- Federal tax identification Number
- Food Distribution Permit
- Contract Template
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
When starting your business no matter how little it is, finance is very important which is why as an entrepreneur, you must have all the necessary finance to start up your business with or have where you can source for your start-up capital.
An easy way to source for start-up capital is to have a well written business plan that will help convince your investors about your seriousness and commitment towards the candy buffet business you are looking to start. Therefore some of the areas where you can source for your start-up capital from are;
- Raising start-up capital from personal savings and sale of personal stocks
- Souring for soft loans from friends and family members
- Applying for loan from a commercial bank
- Sourcing for capital from business partners and private investors
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
One important decision that will be made during the course of starting and running your candy buffet business is where you will locate the business.
This is because the location you choose can have an impact on how much revenue you get to generate. If you however prefer to start the business on a low scale, you might run it as part-time from home and in that way incur less overhead and running expenses.
If you are going to be running the business from home, you will need to do more in terms of publicity so that people can be aware of your business. You can create a website for your business and use this to promote your candy buffet business.
You can also have business cards with a unique logo stating your service and your contact information. This does not mean that those with a commercial facility do not engage in promoting their business, it just means that you will have to promote your business vigorously and more intensely.
If your intention is however to make your business more public, then renting a commercial facility is the sure way to go. You can use your commercial facility as a candy store, that way you generate revenue from candy sales as well as from catering to events.
Most entrepreneurs in this category are those that take the business as their main source of livelihood and as such have to ensure that they show the commitment needed to make the business grow.
If renting a facility, you have to ensure that you do not rent in an area that is far from mobile traffic. You should also ensure that you are conspicuous enough for potential clients to see from far off and you can get a signage to help you in this regards.
If you are too far, you might not get enough clients. Also, your facility does not have to be too big but should be enough to allow you beautifully display all the candies you have.
If you do not have a thorough knowledge of the city, you can engage the services of a real estate agent to help you look for a place that will be suitable for your business. Be sure to tell the agent what your budget is and how large or small a facility you are looking at, so that the agent does not work outside your goals.
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
The candy buffet business is not one that requires any sort of technicality as all an entrepreneur needs is the ability to display candies beautifully and sometimes within the theme of the event it is meant to cater for.
The start-up capital needed for this business is quite small and so any entrepreneur intending to start this business need not be stressed about the capital needed. Some of the display cases used for this business is one that can be gotten cheap in any home store or even online.
You can order in bulk from a wholesale supplier in order to get their prices cheap. Some other tools and equipment used can be gotten as fairly used.
Even though the candy buffet business is not one that requires any sort of technical tools and equipment, there are basic tools you will need in order to make your business successful and efficient and they are; vehicle, display cases, gloves, glass bowls, ribbons, and trays. Administratively, you would require; computer, phone, printer and software.
Even though this is a business that is usually run on a small scale, some entrepreneurs who have grown and knowing that they can handle everything by themselves usually start to build a business structure by hiring the appropriate people to help in running the business.
The employees that you will therefore need to run your candy buffet business successfully are; chief executive officer (owner), admin and human resource manager, marketing and sales executive, customer service executive, display attendants, accountant, cleaner and driver. From the above breakdown, you will need at least 9 key people to be able to effectively run your candy buffet business.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
The service delivery process involved in starting a candy buffet business starts from researching the market you intend to go into so as to find similar wholesale suppliers of the different candies you intend to purchase and then compare prices.
You should ensure that your suppliers are reliable especially as you might need some stock urgently depending on the requirements of your client’s event. Once you have found the wholesale suppliers you want, you can then look to making sure your business is legal by getting an attorney or visiting the city council to ensure this. You can also get different display cases that you will use.
Once you have your candies and display cases, you can partner with event and wedding planners as this will allow you get jobs, or you can ensure that you get listed as a vendor, that way, you will be picked by established planners whenever the occasion arises.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
Marketing is the process of understanding what your target market wants and striving to meet these needs. Marketing also helps create awareness for a business whilst achieving the main purpose which is to generate revenue and enable the company to make profit. The purpose of marketing is to penetrate the market, have an edge over your competitors and get a fair share.
However before you can achieve your marketing goals and objectives, it is very important that you conduct a thorough market research that will allow you know who your target market is depending on your niche, how to understand them, what to expect from them and what they should expect from you and also who your competitors are and what to expect from them.
In starting your business, there are already competitors that you will face who already have a network of clients and so it is best that you engage the services of a marketing consultant or hire an in-house marketing staff to be able to help you achieve your marketing goals and objectives.
Because part of the business is aesthetics, clients expect to see past works whilst you are marketing your candy buffet business and so you must have this in order to use as a selling point. Below are some of the platforms that you can leverage on when marketing your candy buffet business;
- Empowering your marketing executives to market your business to potential clients
- Placing adverts for your candy buffet business in local newspapers and magazines as well as on radio and television stations
- Ensure that your candy buffet is listed in yellow pages as well as on online directories
- Distributing handbills and fliers in strategic locations
- Install signage and flexi banners in conspicuous and strategic places
- Use your website ad social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to advertise your business
17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If your intention of starting a candy buffet business is to ensure that your business becomes known nationally and even internationally, then it is necessary that you engage in boosting the awareness of your brand and creating a corporate identity.
Before your publicity can be effective, it is necessary that you understand your target market and their identifiable characteristics as this will help you determine what ways you can effectively publicize your business and get a huge share of the target market that you want.
There are various platforms that you can use to publicize your business and while some are expensive, others are not but these platforms are very effective in carrying out your intended goals and objectives. Below therefore are some of the ways you can use to boost the awareness of your brand and also create a corporate identity for your candy buffet business;
- Encourage your loyal customers to help spread the word about your business
- Get a photographer to take shots of your work and then post on your website
- Use your social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat to create awareness for your candy buffet business
- Distribute handbills and fliers in strategic locations
- Visit popular forums and blogs and try to create awareness for your candy buffet business
- Place adverts in your local newspapers and related magazines as well as on radio and television stations