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.
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.
After that, you'll want to pick the middle option, “Get search volume and forecasts”.
Once the text box opens, type “shaved ice near me” or "snow cones near me" and click “Get Started”
When see the graph, go to the location icon, then input your local area.
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.
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 Builder & LoopNet. 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:
- 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!
- 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, we found this article by Asher Fergusson helpful: "11 Best Commercial Shaved Ice Machines (2022 Reviews)".
Asher's website is an affiliate site, so they may make money from qualifying purchases, but they still present a fairly unbiased review of all 11 machines.
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.
Now you know the basics of how to start a snow cone business in 2022. 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.