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How to start an Ice Cream parlor

Ice cream is a delicious treat enjoyed by everyone. The sweet snack is popular and easy to make. There are hundreds of delicious flavors and recipes to tantalize our cravings and taste buds.
In my journey as an entrepreneur, ice cream retail was one of my earlier ventures. Although I have moved on, it was without a doubt the most profitable.
I had limited funds and faced serious storage and utility challenges. However the demand quickly outweighed the supply. Any business with such high demand and appreciable margins is a good venture.
The business is highly competitive and requires low startup capital. You could decide to develop your own products or retail popular brands. The business model you choose depends on your business plan and focus.
You could decide selling from a van or open a retail outlet. There are a few things to consider before starting your ice cream store.
Carry out a Survey
Carry out a survey of your immediate environment. Find out your customers interests and expectations.
The next step is to write a business plan and decide on a business model. The options include owning an ice cream truck, buying into a franchise or ice cream bike. You could sell wholesale, retail or open a sales outlet.
Other tings to consider during your research include regular source of supplies and customer demography. Find a suitable location and popular brands in your locality.
Are you going to make the ice cream yourself or leverage on branded products. These are important questions you need to address.
Write a Business Plan
Write an ice cream retail business plan and carry out a feasibility study. The business plan should focus on target audience, market research and location. Study your competitors, secure funding and structure a business model.
The Business Model
There are three basic models in the ices cream retail industry. You could buy into a franchise, sell popular products or develop your own brand.
Each business format comes with its own set of rules and challenges. Franchising requires higher capital impute than retailing popular brands. The only advantage to franchising is product support, training and brand awareness.
Starting from scratch is slightly more challenging based on logistics. However the amount you invest depends entirely on the scope and size of your business. Going mobile is another strategy used by retailers.
Related article-Starting a Doughnut Shop
Choose an Ideal Location
The location you choose will determine your success or failure. A major consideration when selecting a location is pedestrian traffic.
Popular destinations such as theme parks, shopping malls are ideal locations. Consider the cost of leasing a shop against owning a mobile vehicle.
You could also choose to go mobile and find a 'juicy' spot. School children buy lots of ice cream especially if they are popular and cheap.
Determine your Inventory
Your inventory depends on your business model. Mobile vendors need a mode of transportation such as a truck or bus.
Other transportation includes carts, trolleys, bikes and selling on foot. Stationary businesses could work from a container, store front, shop or fast food outlet.
Basic equipment includes freezers, refrigerators, frozen trucks or coolers. Others are mixers, storage shelves, ice cream maker, chairs and tables.
  • Backup generator
  • Freezers
  • Refrigerators
  • Frozen trucks
  • Coolers
  • Mixers
  • Storage
  • Shelves  
  • Ice cream maker
  • Chairs and tables
  •  Computer
  • Cash register
  • Carts
  • Trolleys
  • Bikes
  • Ice cream cones
  • Plastic spoons
  • Bowls 
Sales Demography
Popular locations that attract huge patronage include shopping malls and supermarkets. Others are residential areas, theme parks, tourist destinations and airports. More are schools, event centers, busy pedestrian streets and commercial areas.
  • Shopping malls
  • Supermarkets
  • Residential areas
  • Theme parks
  • Tourist destinations
  • Airports
  • Schools
  • Event centers
  • Busy pedestrian streets
  • Commercial areas
Permits and Licensing
There are serious rules guiding standardization and storage. The regulatory body that controls consumables, food and beverages is the health department.
Your establishment needs to pass health and safety scrutiny such as cleanliness, waste disposal and storage. You need to conform to the general food law regulation and food safety Act 1990.
You are also required to have a license to sell from a vending truck or a trade license. Obtain a federal tax identification number, insurance cover and register the enterprise as a sole proprietorship business.
You might have to join a trade association in your state or municipal. Although this is not mandatory it would be useful and productive.
You may choose to sell only ice cream or diversify. Products that work best with ice creams are carbonated drinks, cakes, cookies and biscuits. Sell only quality products alongside your delicious cones.
Hire Staff
An individual can successfully run the store alone. Hire appropriate staff as the business grows and expands. Staff requirements include sale personnel, cart/truck driver and chef.
Product Pricing
Branded products already have recommended retail prices. You make your money from sales margins per product. However if you develop you own brand determine the price based on similar brands in your locality.
An effective marketing strategy is brand awareness. Make sure your business has a memorable and catchy name.  A novel spin on traditional cone is another sales technique.
Use lots of promotional gimmicks such as discounts, community and leisure activities. Leverage on television advertisement, newspaper publications and the print media.

Supermarket Business Ideas

One of the easiest businesses to establish is a supermarket. That is why there is a proliferation of supermarkets in every neighborhood.
Supermarkets are popular places people visit for their daily needs. They offer different items such as consumables, healthcare products, lotions, soaps and household items.
The business is lucrative and operators earn income based on margins. Most items sold are branded and have fixed sale and profit margins.
This makes price determination simple for new entrant into the business. Sometimes supermarket owners add grocery items.
Before launching the enterprise there are a few things to consider. You need an ideal location and do a comprehensive cost analysis.
Write a supermarket business plan, carry out a survey, feasibility study and secure funding. The amount of funding depends on the location, amount of stock and size of the store.
There are a few challenges new entrants into the business will encounter. You face the possibility of purchasing substandard or adulterated products.
Other difficulty involves finding quality substitutes, price determination and trustworthy suppliers. There is also lots of stiff competition from other supermarkets and grocery stores in your locality.
  • Substandard products
  • Expired products
  • Adulterated products
  • Finding quality substitutes
  • Price determination
  • Trustworthy suppliers
  • Competition
  • Stocking  
Pricing the Goods
Although packaged goods have recommended sales price there are lots of substitutes. The popularity of the brand and price usually determines the level of patronage.
Make sure you purchase only products popular in your neighborhood. Select popular brands that offer best prices to customers.
Things that affect price determination are where you sourced the product, transportation costs and demography purchasing power. Your price should be in uniformity with competing supermarkets in your locality.
 If you offer high prices your customers will go to competitors.
Things that Determine Price
  • Buying substitutes
  • Branded products
  • Where you sourced the product
  • Transportation costs
  • location
Supermarket Business Startup
Start by writing a business plan and carrying out a feasibility study. You need to register the business and obtain business permits and licenses. Other important requirements include finding a good location, credible suppliers, trustworthy staff, funding and marketing.
  • Write a supermarket business plan
  • Register the business
  • Raise capital
  • Find a good location
  • Obtain business permits and licenses
  • Find suppliers
  • Hire qualified staff
  • Marketing
Supermarket Business Plan
Write a supermarket business plan and factor funding, location and sourcing the products. Conduct a survey to study competitors and find out what your customers need. The business plan should also provide a startup framework including expansion plan.
Register the Business
Select a catchy business name for your brand. You could decide to form a proprietorship business, limited liability or partnership.
The legal structure determines the tax requirements and management structure. Obtain a business permit and fulfill standard regulatory requirements. Some of your items are subjected to value added tax and you need good insurance cover.
Funding the Business
You need substantial funds to start a grocery store or supermarket. Majority of the funds are spend on supply and fixed inventory.
The working capital is huge and usually recurrent. Other funding requirements are rent, security system, staff wages and maintenance.
To source funds present your Business Plan to a commercial bank in your area. You need to open an account in the bank and provide collateral.
Supermarket Inventory
A basic supermarket will stock canned products, soaps, detergents and sanitary products. They may have edibles, dairy product, cereals, grains and frozen poultry products.
Fixed inventory include refrigerators, freezers, display cases, cash register and computer systems. Others include a bus/truck, generating set, lighting and large storage facility.
Choose a good location
The success of the enterprise depends on your location of choice. A good location should have huge pedestrian traffic or large concentration of people.
Good locations are within a popular shopping mall, neighborhood or a busy commercial area. Other requirements include store visibility, adequate parking and easy accessibility. The store should have adequate storage and a large display board.
Find Suppliers
The source of your products is another important aspect of the business. Try to source inventory from manufacturers or major wholesalers.
Supermarket owners generally purchase in volume to reduce retail prices. This is an effective strategy that offers the customers competitive prices. Leverage on bulk purchase, branded products, substitutes and better margins.
Employ Staff
An average supermarket needs sales staff, cashier, accountant and manager. Other staff requirements are security guards, stock keepers, drivers and cleaners.
Hire staff with trustworthy characters and good customer relations skill. The number of workforce you need depends on the size of your establishment.
  • Sales staff
  • Cashier
  • Accountant
  • Manager
  • Security guards
  • Storekeeper
  • Drivers
  • Cleaners
Small scale neighborhood supermarkets can use flyers, local publications, billboards and signboards. They could hire sales representatives and organize fun events.
Use discounts, bonanzas and free gifts to attract patronage. Make sure your prices are competitive and fair.
Other marketing tools are yellow pages, directories and a dedicated website. Leverage on social media such as Instagram, Facebook and Google+

How to Start a Facility Management Company

Facility management comprises different services to ensure the smooth operation of a built environment. The management company integrates support services through the uses of technology and manpower. 
Your job description involves offering your clients a broad based service and securing contracts. You could launch the enterprise focused on a sector or specialize on fire prevention and safety maintenance.
Others offer full facility management services or environmental services. Start by writing a business plan and incorporation. You need moderate funds, company location, permanent and temporary staff.
Ways to Start a Facility Management Company
There are three ways to start a facility management company. You could start from scratch, use acquisition or buy into a franchise.
Write a facility Management Company Business Plan
You should write a facility management company business plan. The plan should focus on core business strategy, funding and marketing. Project expected profit/loss, future projections and management team.
Write a Feasibility Study
Study you competitors, business structure, services and prices. You need to find an ideal location and carry out a survey.
The survey will reveal your preferred client demography. To compete favorable you should offer your clients unique services at competitive prices.
Build a Portfolio
It is essential you build a portfolio of your work. This will enable easy presentation of your services to clients while showcasing your proficiency.
Learn the Trade
You need to have a professional degree in fields related to your services. The business involves other professionals such as electricians, carpenters, bricklayer and waste management professionals.
Other professionals are handymen, fabricators, security experts and horticulturists. Gain knowledge from established facility managers, seminars, tutorials, apprentice programs and internship.
Professionals Employed by Facility Management Company’s
  • Electricians
  • Carpenters
  • Bricklayer
  • Waste management professionals.
  • Handyman
  • fabricator
  • security experts
  • horticulturists
  • tilers 
  • plumbers 
The Business of Building Maintenance
The business of building maintenance covers a vast range of services. The facility manager repairs drainage, does the plumbing, waste management and supplies. They change electrical fittings, faulty doors, faulty elevators and general maintenance.
  • Repairs drainage
  • Plumbing services
  • Waste management
  • Minor repairs
  • Supplies
  • Electrical fittings
  • Faulty doors
  • Faulty elevators
  • General maintenance
Secure Contracts
To succeed you need to secure contracts to manage property. You could approach local offices, property developers, apartment blocks and commercial buildings.
Other potential clients are event centers, government institutions and colleges of higher learning.
Hire Staff
It is not practical hiring all the staff you need. Concentrate on highly qualified staff to coordinate the casual labor deployed. Valuable staffs are professionals with multiple management skills.
You need contractual agreements to operate as a facility management company. Your customer base includes real estate developers, office complexes and high rise buildings.

How to Start a Gemstones Business

The gemstone business is capital intensive and challenging. You need adequate knowledge of gemology to identify high grade stones.
You could work part-time or full–time depending on your business template. The value of the stones depends on rarity, popularity, market price and cut.
Gemstones rarely depreciate in value and are subjected to the forces of demand and supply. Gemstone is a generic word that encompasses precious stones, crystals, jewelry and organic material such as pearl.
To start the enterprise you need gemology knowledge and funding. Other requirements are using quality cutters, choosing a niche and establishing a brand.
How to Start a Gemstone Business
  • Learn gemology
  • Operate a standard laboratory
  • Write a business plan
  • Focus on a niche
  • Sell wholesale or retail
  • Purchase the stones
  • Use quality packaging and shipping materials
  • Sell online
  • Market your business
Types of Gemstones
It is very important to differentiate between synthetic and authentic gemstones. Synthetic gemstones are chemically produced in laboratories to look identical to real ones.
The classification of gemstones is predicated on distinctions between semi-precious and precious stones. Precious stones are graded by rarity, luster, and translucent quality.
They are generally classified based on color, hardness and translucence. Modern gemologists use a more calculated approach in determining precious stones.
They identify stones based on chemical compositions, crystal system or trigonal quality. Precious and semi-precious stones include diamond, sapphire, ruby, amethyst and ruby. Others are turquoise, quartz, tigers-eye, pyrite, moss agate and carnelian.
Extremely Rare Gemstones
  • Painite
  • Hibonite
  • Red beryl
  • Jeremejevite
  • Chambersite
  • Taaffeite
  • Musgravite
  • Grandidierite
  • Poudretteite
  • Serendibite
  • Zektzerite
Gemstone Value
Gemstones are generally valued based on four parameters. These are the stones clarity, cut, carat and color.
However modern precious stone trade is based on treatment, branding, design, trends and designer. A gemstone merchant could leverage on numerous grading laboratories for accurate classification and pricing.
Some laboratories that carry out this function include Gemological Association of All Japan, Gemology institute of Southern Africa and European Gemological Laboratory. Others are American Gemological Society, and Swiss Gemological Institute.
Some Grading Laboratories
  • Gemological Association of Japan
  • Gemology institute of Southern Africa
  • European Gemological Laboratory
  • American Gemological Society
  • Swiss Gemological Institute
Cutting and Polishing Gemstones
Cutting and polishing gemstones increases the value when done properly. Some stones are used in their natural form while others are cut and polished.
The polishing brings out the luster and clarity of the stone. Professional cutters use the faceting machine to cut while facets are deployed for polishing.
Some gemstone under go heat treatment, irradiation, waxing, oiling including fracture filling.
Choose a Niche
To succeed in the precious stone trade you need to choose a niche. Focusing on a particular stone offers specialization and branding.
Then determine your business model such as wholesale or retail. Both have great profit potential however retail offers larger margins.
A retailer only needs to use the services of a top gemstone cutter for best results. Other considerations include method of sales such as through retail outlets or online.
Sourcing the Gemstones
Gemstones are costly because they are rare and hard to find. Source your product through trade shows and destination locations.
Countries that have huge gemstone deposits are Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Madagascar. Others are Russia, USA, Southern Australia and Canada.
  • Sri Lanka
  • Myanmar
  • Madagascar
  • Russia
  • USA
  • Southern Australia
  • Canada
Registration and Licensing
Register a business name and get an income tax permanent number. Then register as a member of a gemstone association.
Find out the precious stones allowed for export in your country. Don’t forget insurance cover for your precious stones.
Build a Website
You could rent a store or work from home. Selling online is another way to market your products.
You need to insure the stones and apply appropriate packaging. Make sure you receive full payment before shipping the precious stone.
To build a website register a domain name and get a host plan. Build an optimized website and use social media channels o drive traffic to your site.
Offer quality products and discounts to repeat customers. Make sure the website has a shopping cart, about me page, company address and dedicated phone number.

How to Start a Charcoal Export Business

Pyrolysis is the process involved in charcoal production. Primarily obtained from wood it is ideal for many applications.
The product is common to areas with abundant forests and wood. The negative aspect to charcoal production includes deforestation, degradation and environmental implications.
A major advantage of charcoal business is cheaper alternative to diesel, kerosene and petrol. The business is capital intensive and unsuitable for first time investors.
To start the business you need to gather valuable knowledge, secure funding. Get foreign buyers and follow export guidelines and regulations. You need lots of casual labor, a processing unit, registration and source of raw material.
Charcoal export Challenges
Challenges facing the business are funding, price fluctuations and inadequate planning. Others are substandard products, government restrictions, loading issues, theft and inadequate logistics.
  • Funding
  • Price fluctuations
  • Inadequate planning
  • Substandard products
  • Government restrictions
  • Loading issues
  • Theft
  • Poor logistics
Learn the Trade
Before venturing into the business you need to learn the trade. Attend export seminars, purchase e-books and tutorials.
You can hire a professional coach or consultant. Other methods include apprentice and practical training
Uses of Charcoal
There are many uses for charcoal both domestic and industrial. It is used as cooking fuel, industrial fuel and metallurgical fuel.
Other applications are found in art, horticulture, medicine, purification and filtration. Charcoal is prevalent in Pyrotechnics products, a good carbon source, and automotive fuel.
  • Cooking fuel
  • Industrial fuel
  • Metallurgical fuel
  • Art
  • Horticulture
  •  Medicine
  • Purification and filtration
  • Pyrotechnics products
  •  Carbon source
  • Automotive fuel
Types of Charcoal
Before you launch your enterprise you need to know the different types of charcoal. Different countries prefer certain types and have strict requirements for importation.
There are different types of charcoal such as lump charcoal, Ogatan, briquettes and extruded charcoal. Others include sawdust briquette, black charcoal, sugar charcoal and coal/wood charcoal.
  •  Lump charcoal
  • Ogatan
  • Briquettes
  • Extruded charcoal
  • Sawdust briquette
  • Black charcoal
  • White charcoal
  •  Sugar charcoal
  • Coal charcoal
  • Wood charcoal.
  • Peat, coconut shell
Charcoal Production
Charcoal production is labor intensive and slightly challenging. There are different ways to achieve charcoal products.
The production involves managing the heat treatment and carbonization. Retorting technology used during charcoal production is more efficient than clap/kiln method.
How Charcoal is made
Charcoal is made through heat treatment in low oxygen environment. The derivative product is char a slow burning lump.
Commercial production is done in large silos made from steel or concrete. Hardwood lump charcoal is made from different raw materials.
Common materials used in making hardwood are furniture, twigs and sawmill scrap. Charcoal brusquest are primarily made from wood scrap and sawdust.
Specifications for Charcoal Export/Import
The quality of the hardwood impacts on the final product. To import charcoal you are bound by strict guidelines and specifications.
Although they defer, common specifications include carbon content, moisture and ash content. Others include hardness of the product, volatile matter, granulation size and calorific value.
The heating medium and methodology used in the production is also of importance. Average dry ash content 3%, moisture 5.5 % and fixed carbon 75%. Heated value 6800Kcal/kg, volatile matter 7%, minimum hardness 95% and granulation size 30mm-150mm.
  • Average dry ash content 3%
  • Moisture 5.5%
  • Fixed carbon 75%
  • Heated value 6800Kcal/kg
  • Volatile matter 7%
  • Minimum hardness 95%
  • Granulation size 30mm-150mm.
Registration and Licensing
Some countries have placed an outright ban on charcoal exportation. You need to find out what is obtainable in your country.
To export charcoal, secure an export contract and register your business as a limited liability company. You are required to have an export license, trade license and insurance.
Charcoal Export Costs and Profit
The cost and profit are based on full load 40 feet container of 23 metric tons. Other parameters include transportation cost to loading port and documentation.
You need to factor agency fees, local inspection/supervision fees and port terminal charges. Calculate the profit by factoring total selling price per 23 metric tons at buyer’s price per ton. Once all of the variables are considered you can arrive at a profit determination.

Start your own Rice Export Business

Rice is a cereal grain seed from a grass species and one of the most consumed staple foods in the world. The grain is popular in every country and accounts for billions of tons eaten annually.
That is why rice is the most sort-after grain in the world. It provides adequate caloric and nutritional properties for the body.
Apart from human consumption rice is processed into various products and used in different applications. The crop was farmed over 12,000 years ago making it one of the oldest crops domesticated by man.
The ancient crops origin was traced back to ancient China. And each region and country has its own brand of rice popular to natives.
Therefore investors interested in the business should export only rice popular to the demography of interest.
Understand the Business
Before starting a rice export business you need to understand the business. Gain knowledge through seminars, trade workshops, books and approach the department of Agriculture.
You need to determine the type of rice consumed in your target country. Then find a trustworthy supplier and use a letter of credit.
Make sure all the documentation are in order and study the destination countries laws and regulations. To find buyers and supplier visit the export council in your country. They will provide information on how to source the products.
Rice Cultivation
Rice thrives in areas of high rainfall and abundant water resources. The rugged plant is adaptable to many terrains.
It requires intensive farming, cheap labor and flooded fields to grow. The farmers usually use methods such as flooding, damming and irrigation methods to cultivate rice.
They face challenges such as fertilizer, vermin infestation and opportunistic weeds. Common rice growing environments include upland areas, coastal wetlands or deep water rice.
Other notable growth topography includes lowlands, irrigated lands and rain-fed areas.
Where Rice is Cultivated
  • Upland areas
  • Coastal wetlands
  • Deep water rice
  • Lowlands
  • Irrigated lands
  • Rain-fed areas
  • Hilly sides
Nutritional Value
Rice fulfills a large percent of our dietary needs. There are many parameters when measuring the nutritional value of rice.
Such permutations are usually based in soil quality, strain of rice, processed, enriched or polished. Other factors are method of storage and preparation in dishes.
This affects the nutritional value such as amount of fat, carbohydrate, minerals and vitamin in the strain of rice. Common nutrients found in rice are carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber, fat and protein.
Others include 5 types of vitamins, minerals such as magnesium, phosphorous and calcium.
Top Rice Producers
As an importer/exporter of rice you need a ready source and export market. Most countries eat only certain type of rice therefore exporting the wrong type is counterproductive.
An exporter needs to know the local cuisine and favorite rice before shipment.  As stated earlier many countries produce rice commercially for both domestic and foreign markets.
The top 14 producers by way of metric tons is China, followed by India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea and Bangladesh. Other major players include Myanmar, Philippines, Brazil, Japan, Pakistan, Cambodia and United States of America
Types of Rice
There are different types of rice cultivated for export and domestic markets. Common types include red rice, purple rice, golden rice, white and brown rice.
Some are polished, pre-boiled, long-grain, regular and enriched. Others are cooked without salt and short grain.
Registration and Licenses
Before you can start an import/export business you need an IEC code. Get a membership certificate from the export promotional council.
There are a few options when it comes to incorporation. You could register a business name or as a sole proprietor.
Incorporate the business into a limited liability company and try partnership arrangement. You are at liberty to make it a public or private company.
Other requirements are PAN number from department of tax and register with the central board of excise and customs.
  • Register the business as a legal entity
  • Get a custom clearing agent
  • Apply for IEC code
  • Apply for TIN/VAT registration
  • Register with the central board of excise and customs
Government Control
Rice is subject to government country because it is considered a staple. The controls usually restrict importation of the commodity.
Some countries even place an outright ban on the produce.. The meddling has impacted negatively on amount of rice exported worldwide.
Only five countries are noted for exportation of rice such as the United States of America and Vietnam. Other exporters are Thailand, china and India.
Thailand and Vietnam export jasmine rice while India adds the Basmati variety. Things that affect the price of rice are government control, war, drought, infestation and vermin. The major producers of rice are also the largest consumers.
Things that Affect Rice Production
Things that affect rice production are rainfall, sola radiation, wind and atmospheric water vapor. Other determinants include pest, diseases and pollution. 
How to Start Your Own Rice Export Business
  •  Write a rice export/import business plan
  • Carry out a feasibility study
  • Find buyers and suppliers of the produce
  • Learn the business
  • Register your company
  • Acquire relevant documentation
  • You need export license, letter of credit
  • Secure contract agreements
  • Make sure you ship the correct rice
  • Collect payment

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