Ouyee, store display furniture manufacturer since 1998, original shop interior design & shop fixtures manufacturing factory

How to Start a Small Ice Cream Business


On a hot summer day, nothing beats a refreshing scoop of your favorite ice cream. The treat is a favorite around the nation, but is particularly appealing in the Southern states when the sun is blasting and the municipal pools are open. Starting an ice cream business can be extremely lucrative, as long as you have researched other ice cream businesses in your area and developed a detailed business plan.


Step 1

Decide whether to invest in a successful or up-and-coming franchise or start your own independent ice cream shop. The benefit to starting a franchise is that you will have built-in help to guide you through the process of starting your business. Franchises typically provide the store layout and design, ingredients, supplies and employee training. However, they can require significant upfront capital. Starting your own business allows you the freedom to determine exactly how much money you can afford to invest.

Step 2

Research other ice cream or mobile businesses in your area to help you get an idea of the type of business you want to start and ideas for designing your store or cart. A low-fat, frozen yogurt shop may do particularly well, particularly if you intend to set up shop in an area that has a high interest in healthy living.

Step 3

Contact your city’s health department to learn the requirements and costs associated with obtaining a permit or mobile permit if you intend to operate an ice cream cart. Equipment, lighting, garbage, plumbing and ventilation requirements; rodent and insect control; and access to restrooms will be considered for a physical location. Keep this information with you when looking to rent commercial space so you don’t invest in a place that will require costly adjustments.

Step 4

Develop a list of products that you will sell with your ice cream, such as bottled drinks, cookies, waffle cones and toppings. Research equipment costs for carts, condiments, walk-in coolers, walk-in freezers, soft-serve machines, storage shelves, a soda machine, tables, chairs, fudge warmers, prep tables, mixing bowls, pasteurizers (if you'll be making your own ice cream) and ice cream vendors or dairy farmers.

Step 5

Choose a location for your ice cream shop and the expected clientele, such as downtown, on the waterfront, near dog parks or parks, plazas, busy shopping centers and family-friendly residential areas. Consider car and foot traffic in addition to parking and accessibility for clients and delivery drivers. Your shop may range in size from 400 to 4,000 square feet. In addition to the shop layout, you’ll need to ensure that you have adequate storage for your ice cream, depending on the frequency of the deliveries.

Step 6

Develop a business plan for your ice cream shop. Include your market research, target audience, design ideas for your shop, potential locations around the city, advertising techniques, how you intend to finance the business and your competition. Present your business plan to financiers, starting with your local bank, to procure funding.