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How To EASILY Write A Ice Cream Shop Business Plan

How To EASILY Write A Ice Cream Shop Business Plan

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Writing a solid ice cream business plan is critical if you want to develop a successful ice cream business. But thanks to its popularity amongst people of many ages, many people think that an ice cream business is super easy to start.

That would be far from the truth!

From getting the right location to identifying your target market and how best to both reach and serve them, a lot goes into properly setting up your ice cream shop for success.

In this article, we’ll be going over how you can write a business plan to help you build a profitable ice cream business from scratch.

Fun Fact

Running an ice cream business is something I am totally passionate about, and I’ve got 2 ice cream businesses to show for it. 

I created the first (called Tropical Paradise) when I was 17, ran it for a year, and then stopped. The second, 720 Sweets, was established 10 years later. 720 Sweets ran for 5 years before it was acquired.

My love for ice creams has much to do with putting smiles on the faces of others. And, I’d be delighted to help you do just that!

Why you NEED a Business Plan for Your Ice Cream Shop

So, now that you know you want to create an ice cream shop, the first thing you need to do is to write a business plan. A lot of people make the mistake of skipping this critical step and it eventually bites them back later on.

Why write a business plan, you may ask?

1. For Raising Funds: 

How To EASILY Write A Ice Cream Shop Business Plan 1

A business plan will be critical to your efforts to raise the required funds. 

When asking people for money, you must show them your plan so they can see how they’ll get their money back. 

The more detailed this business plan is, the more bases you cover, and the more confidence you inspire in those whose funds you need that you’d be able to recoup their money.

Overall, this increases your chances of actually getting funded.

2. For Partnership:

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Finding the right partner is an underrated part of any business. The ideal partner can elevate your business beyond measure, bringing you critical skills you may lack.

Sure, you already have this crazy idea you want to bring to the world. But, how well can you sell it to a potential partner?

Putting the idea on paper in a detailed fashion gives potential partners an opportunity to fully evaluate your plan. Then, they can either choose to buy in or opt-out.

A good business plan also helps you attract really talented individuals to your team to help build out your vision. 

Because a business plan also transmits your values, it is a great way to find partners who share the same values and ideals as yourself.

3. For Guidance:

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A new business venture is like a mountain, with sometimes unpredictable bends, peaks, and lows. When trying to navigate a tricky mountain, you must have a map handy.

A business plan is your map to this mountain.

With a lot of fastballs coming your way as you navigate the business, it can be easy to lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve.

How do you make money? How do you recoup costs? How do you decide what to invest in as a business?

A solid business plan serves as a constant reference point for you, helping you cut through the noise and stay on the right track at all times.

Writing an Ice Cream Shop Business Plan

A good ice cream shop business plan must help you cover all of your bases. Not only should it identify opportunities, but it should also anticipate challenges before they occur. 

In this section, we’ll be covering all of the essential parts you must address in order to write a solid business plan. While this list is far from exhaustive, it gives you an important base on which you can build off of.

Let’s dive right in!

1. Decide on a Ice Cream Shop Business Concept

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What type of ice cream shop are you trying to create?

Is it going to be a dining experience, a mobile food truck, or a grab ‘n’ go? Are you going to be selling gelato, yogurt, soft served or sorbet? Or, maybe you just want to plug into an established franchise? 

All of these are a part of your business concept, and must be identified right from the beginning. 

Identifying your concept will help you identify the right equipment, spacing, budget, team, marketing, and everything else needed to run a successful ice cream business.

When identifying your concept, always remember that you’re aiming to build a solution to someone’s problem. Be sure to identify that problem and build on the best solution to the problem for your concept.

For instance, when establishing 720 Sweets, our goal was to create a dining experience for young Asian millennials who want a place to hang out and take cute Instagram-worthy pictures after leaving campus.

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720 Sweets satisfied this need through its crispy Instagram-worthy indoor setting and ice cream cones that had “smoke” rising through them.

We also created flavors that advanced this concept for our demographic, such as milk tea, green tea, and Taiyaki flavored ice creams. Also on offer were bubble tea and waffles which were popular amongst the demographic.

 2. Identify Your Target Market

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The first part of your business plan above connects directly into this second part. Who is your business for? Whose problem is it aiming to solve?

720 Sweets targeted young Asian millennials who craved a sense of belonging. This demographic came to shape everything, from what we served to our location and interior décor.

The ice cream shop was covered with custom-made wall murals that allowed people to come in, take cute pictures, and share happily with friends.

Although you might be able to make educated guesses about how you could achieve your goals, creating a detailed buyer persona helps narrow things down properly.

For instance, at 720 Sweets, our buyer persona was a fictional university student called Michelle.

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Michelle is 19, studying at UBC, and working a part-time job at H&M. She enjoys wearing brands like Aritzia and H&M. 

She also loves traveling the world and experiencing new cultures. Amongst the things she values most are family and friendship.

With this in mind, we can identify just how to speak to her. We could tell, for instance, that she’d likely spend a good deal of time hanging out on Instagram and Tik-Tok.

Building the right buyer persona is a crucial part of creating a solid ice cream shop business plan that works.

By building your buyer persona/customer avatar in such a precise manner, you set the tone for your business direction and marketing plan.


Confused on how to get your ice cream shop started?

How To EASILY Write A Ice Cream Shop Business Plan 8

I know that starting an ice cream shop or a restaurant can be super overwhelming and scary. After all, A LOT of money and time is being invested in it. And any small mistake (wrong location, wrong lease, wrong hire, wrong menu, wrong culture, wrong equipment, wrong marketing plan, etc.) can mean $10,000s down the drain.

Sometimes, these costly mistakes can happen before you even open your doors…wouldn’t you want to avoid some of those mistakes?

Join my FREE masterclass where I walk you through my 3-step formula on how to build a popular and profitable ice cream shop and restaurant business.


3. Select the Right Team

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Another important part of your ice cream shop business plan is your team. At this stage, you want to begin identifying the background of your team members. 

Who will make for the ideal partner, and why?

No, they don’t need to have some crazy credentials. They don’t need to have graduated from some popular university, or have very big names.

What you really need to know are the advantages they’ll be bringing to your business as part of your ‘Dream Team’. To do this, you must consider three things: 

First is their skillset. What skills are they bringing to the table? Can they fundraise? Are they social media savvy? Do they prepare killer ice cream flavors? 

Your second consideration would be the resources they bring. Do they have a lot of money that can finance and support your business? Do they have plenty of time? Or, do they have colleagues or relatives in the industry who could provide you with valuable insider information?

Finally, you want to consider their connections. Do they know bankers, consultants, foodpreneurs, or others who could help your business in some way?

Ultimately, your selected partner may only match one of these considerations, and that’s okay. What’s really important is that they bring something valuable to the table.

AVOID the trap of bringing someone onto your team simply because they’re a relative or a friend, as none of these add value to your business.

As an example, everyone on the 720 Sweets team brought something important to the table. My first partner, Tim, was a supplier of all our ingredients, and gave us the best pricing.

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Brian served as the COO thanks to his massive experience and passion for operations management. And, the third partner was the money man, affluent enough to fund the business.

As for myself, I was really good at marketing and fully in touch with the needs of our customers. 

This was the makeup of our successful ice cream shop Dream Team.

4. Identify the Right Location

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There’s no denying the importance of getting the right location to your business. When writing a business plan, you want to ensure your selected location is right for your concept and market.

There are two primary types of location for the ice cream business. 

Destination Location

The first is a destination location. For this location, people must drive over specifically to your shop to come get ice cream.

Destination locations generally cost less in rent due to the limited walk-by traffic in the area, but this means fewer potential customers in the immediate vicinity of your business.

High-Density Location

High-density locations are the second type of business location. These locations are usually at the downtown core or market areas with high foot traffic.

High-density locations give you plenty of potential walk-in buyers who could be converted into customers, but they usually cost more in rent.

How can you decide which of these two is best for your ice cream business?

For starters, you must realize that high-traffic areas may not necessarily host your target market.

For us at 720 Sweets, the high-traffic downtown core area wasn’t a great place to find our young Asian millennial students.

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720 Sweets Location

As a result, we opted for a destination location by a bus stop. This stop was only 10 minutes away from the university where our target market schooled. This made us an easy access destination location.

Always remember, your target market is your most important consideration when choosing a location, not the level of foot traffic. 

Do NOT fall in love with a location you think is best without first considering if it is fitting for your target market.

5. Curate Your Sample Menu

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Next on your list when creating your ice cream business plan is your sample menu. To create the perfect sample menu, there are three things you must consider:

First, your purpose for the menu. Why are you serving what you’re serving? What purpose does it serve? What problem does it solve? 

For 720 Sweets, our goal was to create a “wow!” experience that pushed our customers to take pictures they could share with friends and family. 

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Our menu was built to hit just that target. We didn’t just serve ice creams; we served an experience – a $7 experience with “smoke” coming out of the cone.

For a little perspective, we had a second ice cream shop which was located in a mall. Here, the demographic was completely different from that which wanted an experience, and so was the concept. 

The demographic in this location needed a small treat they could grab while shopping for groceries, and that’s what they got with the $2 cones of ice cream on offer at this location.

The second thing that you must consider is the complementary pieces – those complementary items that would make your average ticket value higher.

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At the end of the day, when selling ice cream, you need to sell a lot of ice cream in order for you to make back your rent, labor and total/average cost of goods sold. This makes it critical that you maximize the money people spend at your location.

Offering extras like waffles and drinks will greatly help you to increase your average ticket value.

Finally, consider your cost of goods sold (COGS). 

Understanding your margins from each item will help you determine which items are best for your ice cream shop and which ones are bad. 

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You must identify which items are on sale simply to draw people into the store, and which ones are there to be your product leaders; this should then be worked into your business plan.

A great way to identify your leading products and validate costs is to conduct surveys around your target location. Surveys provide a ton of insight into your potential customers, helping you determine what your menu focus should be before you start.

A properly conducted survey gives life to your vision by informing you where your focus should be. Using that focus, you can create the ideal menu. A well-developed sample menu also serves as a rallying point for both your team and your investors.

6. Create Your Visuals

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Now that you’ve settled on a concept, demographic, location and menu, it’s time for your next focus – how would it all look.

This is where you determine what your dream location and product packaging will look like. Here, you create everything about your visual appeal, from your logo to your floor plan – everything that’s since only been in your mind.

Understand that your design should have your target audience in mind. It NEEDS to appeal to them.

So if your target market and branding revolves around the sneaker head and hip hop loving audience, then your decor, logo, and designs need to show that. If you end up with a design that is all bright pink and bubbly, it wouldn’t align with the target audience you are trying to appeal to.

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Renders of 720 Sweets location

One thing you also want to consider is the packaging of your products and the attire your staff wears. Is it on brand? Does it help elevate the customer’s experience? Does it make sense with your brand?

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Pint designs

Once you’re done with this phase, you should be able to see clearly what your final project should look like on paper. 

Now you can begin to reconcile whether this is a concept that would appeal to your target market or not, and refine it to meet your desired standards.

7. Conduct a SWOT Analysis

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If you’ve ever created a business plan, you should be familiar with the concept of SWOT analysis. As cliché as the concept may sound, it is crucial for your business.

What is SWOT analysis, and how can it help you?

SWOT analysis is simply an analysis of your business’ potential Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT). 

Identifying these four areas of your business properly positions you for the market. It tells you what your strengths are and how you can beat the competitors. 

When establishing 720 Sweets, our strength was in our youth. Our age made us more aware of what our target demographic needed than the 50-year-old manager who isn’t in touch with youth anymore.

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Our weakness was distribution. We couldn’t beat the large ice cream chains who had a known name, and enjoyed economies of scale. Because they bought in bulk, their cost of goods sold were much lower than ours.

For our opportunity, we identified a grocery chain looking to expand and seeking a partner in the desert industry. This gave us a unique advantage over the competition.

Finally, our threat was of our own doing. Smoke coming out of an ice cream cone wasn’t going to last. We knew this was just a temporary gimmick to get people in the door, so we needed to create other strategies to keep them in after they arrived.

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Conducting a thorough SWOT analysis such as this one enables you to cover all your bases and put everything into perspective. With everything in perspective, plans can be made to counter your weaknesses and forestall your threats before they occur.

A good SWOT analysis tells investors you’re the real deal and shows your partners you know what you’re doing.

8. Decide On Your Marketing Plan

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Now, it’s time to dive into your marketing plan/strategy. How do you intend to get people to patronize your new business? What’s your launch plan? How about your growth plan?

Knowing your customers and your location makes it super easy for you to decide on the marketing strategy to employ. 

Will you be best served using Facebook marketing? Influencer marketing? Brand collaboration? Local events and stunts? Will these be used individually or collectively? 

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Brand Collaboration

Whichever your choice, it should take you further towards your goal of growing your ice cream shop into a thriving business.

Our young demographic at 720 Sweets have been proven to have short attention spans. For this reason, we chose to focus on collaborations and brand partnerships. We always looked to work with other companies to keep our brand fresh, young and relevant.

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Brand collaboration with Nespresso

To that end, we collaborated with brands like VitaSoy and Nespresso which also appealed to our demographic.

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PR marketing

But we also knew that we needed the media if we were going to get the initial launch hype and hit the ground running. So, we reached out to the media to build anticipation, like we always do when launching a new product or campaign.

9. Get Your Financials Right

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Once you’ve clearly determined every aspect of your business and how it’ll run, it’s time for you to dive into the numbers. 

How would your investors recoup their investment?

To answer this question, you need to fully understand your numbers. What are your labor costs? Equipment costs? Rental costs? Cost of raw materials? Third-party commissions? 

How do these costs translate to each product sold? And, how will it affect your margins?

Financials are a part many get wrong, myself included, as they require real care and attention to details. Wrong calculations due to poor research in this stage could end up costing you a lot of money. 

At 720 Sweets, we ended up wasting over $30,000 purchasing the wrong machine and dismantling our counter because it didn’t fit. 

Clearly, your numbers must be clear and accurate, and this is dependent on proper research. Proper research also helps prevent you from going over budget, and avoid unnecessary cost cutting measures that ruin your plan.

Again, the more accurate your projections, the less your expenses, the more likely you are to recoup your money and be profitable, and the more accurate your financials will be.

Getting your financials right gives investors the clarity they need that their money will be used right. This also increases your chances of receiving whatever funding you may need.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it, all you need to create a killer business plan for a profitable and thriving ice cream shop. If this is your first time, it may all feel overwhelming. Don’t worry! Give it some time and come back to it after a while.

A lot needs to go into the creation of a detailed business plan. But by following the guide provided here, you can develop a solid plan to get your business out of the idea phase and into the income-generating phase as quickly as possible.

Confused on how to get your ice cream shop started?

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I know that starting an ice cream shop or a restaurant can be super overwhelming and scary. After all, A LOT of money and time is being invested in it. And any small mistake (wrong location, wrong lease, wrong hire, wrong menu, wrong culture, wrong equipment, wrong marketing plan, etc.) can mean $10,000s down the drain.

Sometimes, these costly mistakes can happen before you even open your doors…wouldn’t you want to avoid some of those mistakes?

Join my FREE masterclass where I walk you through my 3-step formula on how to build a popular and profitable ice cream shop and restaurant business.

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