Starting a snow cone business is ideal for anyone who wants to start a summer side hustle. And if you live in the right place, you might be able to make it a year-round business.
While it may seem far-fetched to start a profitable business making snow cones, it is worth considering. This endeavor has low overhead with high-profit margins and a relatively small upfront investment for equipment.
It’s the ideal business model for any potential part-time CEO, and who doesn’t love a snow cone?
There are some guidelines you’ll need to follow, so let’s talk about making this business dream something you can achieve.
But first, the basics. These include branding, creating a website, the margins, where to start the business, and what sort of business entity you should look at forming.
(see also the guide 20 Ways To Make Money Gardening).
Why Start A Snow Cone Business
Besides the relatively small upfront investment, snow cones are a popular treat for young and old. They cost very little to make and are a very affordable snack for most.
Imagine being outside and catching some rays while enjoying happy customers and making some easy money with spectacular margins. You can do this using a small food truck or a vendor cart to sell snow cones in!
You’ll also need to invest in some ice-making equipment, flavorings, cups, scoopers, and a point of sale. I’ll share more on these later, but first, the basic business steps.
These basics can be followed for all types of businesses, but they are important to know if you’re looking to become your own boss.
The Name Of Your Snow Cone Business
Branding your business is huge, and the name of your business is just one of the many branding components you need to consider. Branding is what reflects the image you want others to perceive, so take this step seriously because it’s important.
Snow cones are a relatively common item so you need to stand out while telling people what you sell. The right name can give your business that edge, so use it in a fun yet informational way.
Do you make the best snow cones in your area? Are you the fastest snow cone maker or do you offer the best prices? Do you believe (like I believe) that snow cones are a delightful treat that brings back childhood memories to adults? And are magical desserts to kids?
If so, think of a catchy name that reflects you and your business intentions. For example, if your name is Sammy, you might say “Sammy’s Snow Cones.” Or you can take it further with a name like “Sammy’s Super-Sized Snow Cones” which tells people you make the biggest snow cones.
You can even make a reference to the local area, use your pet’s name, refer to a catchy song, or even a popular TV show.
Once you’ve decided on a name, check your local city or county for their rules on filing fictitious business names. You will need one in order to open a bank account with your business name on it.
Names and Social Media
Before you finalize your business name, check to see if the social media handles are available. I always check to see if Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are available. If you do videos, check for Tik Tok and YouTube too.
Why is social media important? It can be a quick way to get the word out about your business and it’s relatively inexpensive (and in many cases, free!).
If you’re going to be using a food truck or a portable cart and will be setting up in certain locations or events, then social media is gold.
Tell your followers in minutes where you’re going to be and what time you’ll be there, and watch your fans follow!
Food truck businesses do this all the time, and a snow cone business can benefit from this free advertising source.
Get A Logo
Once you have confirmed your unique brand name, you want to get a logo. Make sure it is simple and clear so that people can easily see it as a snow cone business.
A logo can be as simple as your name in an attractive (and very legible) font. Or it can include a sketch or drawing of a snow cone, which I highly recommend for a business of this type.
Many people will see the logo first and will begin to associate your logo design with your product or business.
When deciding what to design, think of your customers who will likely be children up to adults. Younger children can’t always read, but they probably know what a snow cone looks like! So a sketch of a snow cone could bring a lot of happy youngsters to your cart in no time.
Use your logo on business cards, your website, social media icons, and especially your cart or truck.
Consider getting your logo embroidered on a cap or T-shirt or even an apron that you’ll wear as your “uniform” when you’re selling.
The logo gives your snow cone business legitimacy and is key to getting the tone right. If you want to showcase a fun business, then your logo should reflect that.
Choose Your Colors
If you’re using colors in your logo, make sure to keep them consistent throughout your branding package.
Choose the branding colors you want to be associated with your snow cone business, and incorporate them into your logo and website. Carry these colors through to your cart, cups, straws, and spoons. And don’t forget the clothing you choose to wear when you’re open for business!
Create A Website
You want people to find your business when they have the hankering for a snow cone.
With a searchable website, you can showcase your snow cone business to show where people could buy your product, and you can show off your menu items.
Your site should proudly showcase your logo and branding. And your website doesn’t have to be super expensive either. You can find a very inexpensive hosting package on SiteGround (I use them for all of my sites because they are the best!). And you can find free templates or nearly free templates to build your website.
If you aren’t tech-savvy, consider hiring someone to do it for you. I recently found a template I liked on ETSY and the person built a custom site for me that I love. I simply shared a few details with her and had a new tailor-made site within the week.
If you’re going to do a website for your snow cone business, be sure to include the following details: your menu, an about page where you share your passion for your business, and social media feeds. You can even have a page about the history of snow cones; the various types of frozen ice treats (like Hawaiian Ice, shaved ice, sorbets, etc.); and a contact page.
Include a place for newsletter signups so you can email your followers when you’re going to be at an event. You can even provide an opt-in coupon for first-time customers when they share their email addresses with you!
The cost of a single snow cone is estimated to be around $.80 cents to $1.00, depending on the size. The cost includes the ice, syrup, spoon, cup, and overhead. When you look at the retail price being around $3 for a 6oz serving to $6 for a 16oz serving, the business does make financial sense.
You will have to factor in the cost of the equipment including the commercial snow cone machine, the cups, straws, napkins, and syrup.
Then there are the crucial things like the snow cone scoop, ice bucket, cart or truck, cooler, point of sale system, and menu board.
The heat brings the snow cone lovers running, and the peak seasons are from June to August which is around 90 days. Depending on where you live, the season might be longer, which means more money for you!
The startup costs can run anywhere from around $2500 to $25,000, depending again on your location and type of venue. If you have very little overhead and are able to book some popular events, you could potentially net between $15,000 to $25,000 in one peak season.
Where To Start A Snow Cone Business?
Certain US states do rank highly when it comes to the search volume by percentage.
Nearly half (48.8%) of the total search volume for the phrase ‘snow cones near me’ was for the state of… Texas.
That should not be a huge surprise as Texas is a huge state that enjoys a warm climate for a lot of the year.
The other states to rank highly for that particular phrase include Oklahoma, Florida, California, and Louisiana.
Then there is Hawaii where shaved ice rules supreme for these tasty tropical treats.
That may mean a subtle rebranding from snow cones to shaved ice but that’s only a minor adjustment.
If you were to look at ‘shaved ice near me’ as a search term then around 23% of those searches do come from Hawaii with Texas pulling in just over 13% and California ranking second with 17.5%.
Form A Business Entity
Your snow cone business is an asset so you will need to create a business entity around it. That will help you get the relevant licenses and permits to operate.
This could be a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company (LLC) to cover yourself against certain legal issues.
The LLC is also a preferred form of business if you expect to recruit some employees.
With any business, once you finish all the necessary paperwork and buy the required equipment, it’s time to get moving and launch your grand opening.
Make sure your snow cone business is ready to launch in the early spring or summer.
Before the warm weather hits, you can start promoting your new biz by doing a social media blitz and appearing at a few public or private events. Set up a booth in a popular area and give out some free samples, promote your new business, and share lists on upcoming dates where people can find you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do Snow Cones Never Go Out Of Fashion?
Snow cones are memories from our childhoods and are usually associated with good times.
They are easy to make, and low in calories. Snow cones are a refreshing treat that is relatively inexpensive to buy and fun to eat.
Perhaps that popularity comes with how simple they are – just sugar syrup and ice. Nothing too fancy, nothing too elaborate though you do have to work on the branding.
When Is The Peak Season For a Snow Cone Business?
There is a noted increase in demand for snow cones around the summer months of June and July.
When the weather starts to get warm, people spend more time outdoors and a snow cone is a welcome treat. Depending on where you live, this warmth can begin in April and continue through to October (ie California where I live).
States that have four distinct seasons still have a demand for snow cones and shouldn’t be discounted. People living in these states typically want to spend as much time as they can outdoors, which means well-attended events and high demand for snow cones.
So look ahead, find out where the popular venues are going to be, and get in touch with the organizers to see how you can become a vendor.
Planning is key to any successful business, and getting your schedule together ahead of time will help launch your business and keep your customers informed.
Good luck to you!