How to Start a Snow Cone Business in 2023 (4 Free Tools to Help!)

Are you searching for that golden business idea that will free you from your 9 to 5? Or maybe you just want to find a side hustle with low startup costs and high profit. Of all the small businesses you could open, a snow cone shack or shaved ice stand is one of your best options. With the right equipment, location, and marketing, magical margins will be yours! In this post, we'll go over the basics of how to start a snow cone business, from planning your company to getting gear.

A Shaved Ice Business

So whether you're just getting started or you're actively planning, read on for tips and advice that will help make your snow cone venture a success. Let's get to it!

1. Use Google Ads to determine online demand in your area 

Before we get into how to start a snow cone business, let's see what the potential demand is online in your area. You'll need to make a Google Ads account for free if you don't already have one. Once you are inside your account, click “Tools and Settings” in the top-right menu.

Google Ads: Tools And Settings

After that, you'll want to pick the middle option, “Get search volume and forecasts”.

Google Ads: Planning Menu

Once the text box opens, type “shaved ice near me” or "snow cones near me" and click “Get Started” 

Google Ads: Search Volume and Forecasts 

When see the graph, go to the location icon, then input your local area.

Google Ads: Keyword Plan Chart

This will show you the number of people searching for shaved ice in your area.

You can type in your state and see which cities or counties have the highest demand using the “Charts” menu found in the upper right portion of the graph.

2. Determine your profitability with a free Potential Earnings Calculator 

Opening any business can be a gamble. So the next thing you will want to do is use Snowie’s Potential Earnings Calculator to estimate what your costs and profits would be selling snow cones or shaved ice.

Snowie’s Potential Earnings Calculator

This will help you take into account the price of your machine, supplies, and any other costs associated with starting your business. It will also show you how much money you can make based on the number of shaved ice servings you sell and at what prices.

Experiment with different scenarios to see how costs, pricing, and the number of events you serve will affect your margins and profit! This will give you a great feel for what's possible, and help you strategize a plan for your business.

3. Pick a location for your business 

Once you check the profit potential of your snow cone start-up, it’s time to find the perfect location for it. The best places to sell snow cones are in high foot traffic areas near beaches, parks, festivals, and other tourist attractions.

You can also set up your business at flea markets, farmers' markets, and other events. Try finding a list of events in your area by searching online or checking with your local chamber of commerce.

To make your search easier, here are two (free) handy resources for locating your venue:

Census Business BuilderLoopNet. The first tool will grant you exclusive access to critical data about your industry at a local level. The second tool will show you where in town you could set up shop, how much it'll cost, and how to contact the seller.

Here's a quick overview of each:

Census Business Builder: Small Business Edition

  1. Census Business Builder

    This nifty resource breaks your search down by the business type and location (zip code, city, metro, state, etc.) you want to research. Once you fill in those inputs, you'll get access to all kinds of data, like:
  • "A snapshot of the makeup of... potential customers in the area"
  • "insight into the volume, finance, and diversity of ownership of the businesses in the area"
  • "a high-level overview of the spending patterns of consumers" in the search area

 The best part is it lets you see this info on an interactive map, or it'll even generate a skimmable report for you!


LoopNet Home Page 

  1. LoopNet

    This site touts being "the most heavily trafficked commercial real estate marketplace" online. They are easily one of the best places to start your search for a physical location. You can search different types of properties, and filter them by several factors like: for lease, for sale, up for auction, available space, pricing, location filters, and more

Note on picking a location: You'll need to check the local laws in your area and get the right permits and approval before setting up shop. If you work with your local government you can legally secure a great spot in town!

4. Get a snow cone machine

The next step is to get a snow cone machine. You can find these machines online. There are many different types and sizes of machines available, so you’ll need to choose your priorities.

  • Small countertop models are good for businesses with limited space, like food trucks, or mobile snow cone stands.
  • Medium-sized floor models are good for businesses that have more space, like physical shacks or booths.
  • Large industrial models are good for businesses that have plenty of room, like ice cream shops or restaurants.

As you look for a fitting machine, you'll find companies trying to sell you their equipment (and more power to 'em)! But just in case you want a less biased source, consider looking up reviews online that aren't from the companies themselves.

5. Get shaved ice supplies

Once you have your machine, you’ll need to get supplies. This includes items like ice, flavors, cups, spoons, and any toppings you want to offer.

You could spend hours searching online to find a reliable supplier for your cups, spoons, and flavors. Or you can check out our website!

Here at Frozen Dessert Supplies, you can find the highest quality cups and spoons, at fair prices.

You can even order custom printed cups to showcase your brand and wow your customers.

Whatever products you choose, we'll make sure you have them when you need them most. Your customers will love the color and quality of your supplies (hundreds of reviews say so). Plus, your shop's brand identity will be even stronger.

More Resources

Now you know the basics of how to start a snow cone business in 2023. If you want more help in the process, be sure to check out our other resources (including our podcast “Ice Cream For Breakfast”, our blog, and a Facebook group for frozen dessert business owners) for more tips and information on starting your own shaved ice business.

And of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out! We love helping people achieve their entrepreneurial dreams.

Profile Picture

About the Author: Tim Porter

Tim is the CEO and people builder of In his free time, he enjoys being with his family, collecting watches, and Classic Mini Coopers.


Our purpose at Frozen Dessert Supplies is "Build People and Deliver Joy." That means that everything we do, from manufacturing to packaging to delivery, is to build you and your business and deliver joy to you. We also strive to build our employees and help them to be better people.

Our paper ice cream cups are made withFDA approved food-safe papercoated in a thin layer ofPE (Polyethylene). Our clear plastic cups, banana split boats, and plastic dome lids are made fromPET (Polyethylene Terephthalate). Our plastic spoons and straws are made fromPP (Polypropylene). Our eco-friendly ice cream cups are made fromFDA approved food-safe papercoated in a thin layer ofPLA (Polylactic Acid). PLA is plastic made from corn starch. Our eco-friendly spoons are also made from PLA. Our eco-friendly wooden spoons are made from FDA approvedsmooth birch wood.