With the health consciousness of American consumers growing, the dessert industry may not seem like a very attractive industry for startup entrepreneurs. But truth be told, reports have it that the number of Americans craving for dessert items is increasing at a rate that equals or even surpasses their demand for healthy food alternatives.

According to industry statistics, Americans consume as much as $23 billion in desserts per year. When it comes to annual sales, desserts represent a very vital segment of the nation’s food industry and offer adequate opportunities for new entrepreneurs to venture into the marketplace.

Note that from gourmet bakeries to dessert items in the fast-food category, businesses that make high-quality and unique desserts will surely capture a sizable quota of the U.S. food market in the foreseeable future.

Steps on How to Start a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business

  1. Conduct Market Research

When looking to start a chocolate-covered strawberry business, have it in mind that you have a great deal of work ahead of you. It is very crucial that you carry out plenty of research before you get started.

Note that by understanding the process and organizing your tasks, you can start off on the right foot. Take your time to consult local specialty food stores to determine what they stock and what’s moving off their shelves. Also, visit local dessert shops and do your own investigation – it always pays to know what your competitors are up to.

a. Who is your target audience?

Your target audience in this line of business will depend on the size and capacity of your business. For instance, if you operate a small chocolate-covered strawberry business, your ideal customer will value unique chocolates personally crafted for their enjoyment.

However, if you intend to operate a bigger business, then your target market will include dessert shops, grocery stores, and other local retailers who would be willing to sample your product on their shelves. Gift services such as flower shops and fine food baskets may also hire you to provide chocolate-covered strawberries for their larger designs.

b. Is Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business a Profitable Business?

Yes, chocolate covered strawberry business is a very profitable business. Note that the demand is high due to public perception, especially since high-quality chocolate (or baking chocolate chips) tastes less processed, melts easier, and helps give the strawberries a nice beautiful coat.

c. Are There Existing Niches in the Industry?

Have it in mind that there is so much healthy competition in this industry, so you should think carefully about how you’re going to uniquely offer your products to customers. Note there are numerous ways to do this, and they all require a different approach. Nonetheless, here are a few niches and ways to run your chocolate covered strawberry business;

  • Sell Retail
  • Sell Wholesale
  • Sell at Events
d. Who are the Major Competitors?
  • Neiman Marcus-Chocolate Covered Company
  • Goldbelly
  • Golden State Fruit
  • Bloomingdales
  • Godiva
  • TruFru
  • 1-800-Flowers
  • Edible Arrangements
  • Fields
  • Shari’s Berries
e. Are There County or State Regulations or Zoning Laws for Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business?

Before you open your doors for business, it is crucial that you research the laws in your state concerning the sale of chocolate-covered strawberries. While most states allow entrepreneurs to operate from home, there may restrictions on where you can sell your products (at a farmers’ market, retail stores, or online) or in what volumes (dollar limits). Every state also institutes its regulations on each type of product.

f. Is There a Franchise for Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business?
  • Fields: $180,000 – $247,000
  • A Grande Finale Franchise: $125,938-$237,750
  • Fresh Fruit Bouquet Franchise: $116,000-$172,000
  • Tasty Image Chocolate: $157,400 – $275,500
  • Island of Treats: $72,729
  • Uncle Al’s: $25,000 – $68,000
  • Edible Arrangements: $173,600 – $409,700
  • Peterbrooke Chocolatier: $212,750 to $343,500
g. What Do You Need to Start a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business?
  • Business concept and plan
  • Adequate budget
  • Licenses
  • Ideal location
  • Equipment
  • Reliable Supplier
  • Marketing and sales plan
  1. Choose a Memorable Business Name

  • Fruit Depth
  • Healthy Drip
  • Choco World
  • Chocostera
  • Sweet Treat Everyday
  • Unique Combination
  • Hot and Cold
  • Proper Darkies
  • Meltiest
  • TastyBerry Clan
  • Choco Refreshed
  • Choco and Berries
  • Sweet Chocs
  • Dipped and Melt
  • Craving Temptations
  • Top Berry Gooey
  • Flowing Chocó Nomads
  • Cocoa Beauty
  • Dark Slush
  • Healthy Tribe
  1. Register your Business

a. What Type of Business Structure is Best for Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business?

Most entrepreneurs who venture down this lane most often start from home and tend to run their businesses as sole proprietors. However, note that the LLC remains the ideal and perfect legal entity. The benefits it offers include:

  • Protected assets
  • Heightened credibility
  • Limited compliance requirements
  • Flexible management structure
  • Few restrictions
b. List Steps to Form an LLC
  • Choose a Name for Your LLC.
  • File Articles of Organization.
  • Choose a registered agent.
  • Decide on member vs. manager management.
  • Create an LLC operating agreement.
  • Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • File annual reports.
c. What Type of License is Needed to Open a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business?

You have to understand that licensing rules for selling chocolate-covered strawberries are set by your state and local laws. Although licensing procedure follows a similar pattern everywhere, the exact details of fees, health standards, and legal requirements vary from city to city. Nonetheless, common requirements of starting a chocolate-covered strawberry business include;

  • Business License
  • Sales Permit
  • Health Department Permit
d. What Type of Certification is Needed to Open a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business?

Note that you are not required to be certified by law to start a chocolate-covered strawberry business. However, there are certifications available to help you boost your credentials and reputation in the industry. Certifications to consider include;

  • Certified Food Protection Professional (CFPP)
  • Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS)
  • Certified Professional – Food Safety (CP-FS)
  • Food Safety Manager Certification
  • ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification
  • Certified Pastry Culinarian
e. What Documents are Needed to Open a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business
  • DBA
  • EIN
  • Federal Tax Payer’s ID
  • State Permit and Building Approval
  • Business License
  • Business Plan
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy
f. Do You Need a Trademark, Copyright, or Patent?

A good number of new entrants into this business are surprised to learn that you can’t legally copyright a recipe, so you have to guard your recipe so someone doesn’t steal it. However, if your chocolate-covered strawberry has a unique look, it is possible to trademark that. However, it is imperative to speak with a trademark lawyer to start the process.

  1. Do your Cost Analysis and Budgeting

a. How Much Does It Cost to Start a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business?

One very good thing about the chocolate-covered strawberry business is that you can start very small, and then expand as your business grows. This will allow you to keep costs to a minimum when starting. Estimates for start-up costs range from $2,000 to $50,000 – which is a huge range.

b. What are the Cost Involved?
  • Setting up a business name and corporation costs: $200.
  • Business cards, brochures, postcards for marketing: $200
  • Professional website setup: $1,000
  • Kitchen equipment such as refrigeration, freezers, cold tables, etc.: $1,000
  • Supplies like mixing bowls, spoons, cups, scale, baking sheet, candy thermometers, molds, etc.: $500
  • Ingredients, wax papers, and packaging: $2000
  • Renting or Leasing location if you choose to have one: $1,500 monthly
  • Liability insurance: $200
  • Initial marketing such as Facebook ads or search engine optimization for your website: $500
c. What Factors Determine the Cost of Opening a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business?
  • Business size
  • Location
  • Equipment
  • License and Certifications
  • Choice of Supplier
  • Branding, Promotion, and Marketing Plans
  • Insurance
  • Supplies and Ongoing Expenses
  • Cost of Recruiting and Training Your Staff
d. Do You Need to Build a Facility?

Since you’ll be making and selling edibles, your local health department will have a lot to say on where and how you can run your business. However, if you intend to make your chocolate-covered strawberry out of your kitchen, you may face serious restrictions, such as not being able to cook other food there or having pets in your home.

If you reside in a state that has such restrictions, you might want to rent a commercial kitchen. A good number of entrepreneurs in this business rent kitchens in restaurants during their off-hours or on the days when they’re closed. Others choose to lease space and set up their own commercial kitchen. Nonetheless, ensure to contact your local health department to find out what’s required.

e. What are the Ongoing Expenses for Running a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business?

In this line of business, ongoing expenses include chocolate ingredients, packaging, and promotional items. If you have a storefront, you’ll also have to cater to standard overhead costs of rent and utilities. If delivery is part of your business plan, budget for higher fuel and insurance costs, as well as vehicle payments and repair costs.

f. What is the Average Salary of your Staff?
  • Store Manager: $46,511
  • Merchandise Manager: $38,520
  • Chocolate Makers: $28,815
  • Accountants/Cashiers: $26,544
  • Customers Services Executive: $21,380
  • Cleaners: $19,031
g. How Do You Get Funding to Start a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business
  • From personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • From investors and business partners
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and friends.
  1. Write a Business Plan

a. Executive Summary

Meltiest Chocó Dip will be located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. We are primarily into the production of homemade chocolate-covered strawberries. We will also be involved in the retail of other products like assorted fruits, biscuits, sweets, etc. Our business will be set up to make good returns and we will do everything that is right by law to ensure that we make maximum profit.

b. Products 
  • Chocolate covered with strawberries, fruit, nut, biscuits, etc.
  • Chocolate bars, plain
  • Soft Candies or Creamy Candies such as candy corn.
  • Gumballs
  • Chewing gums.
  • Cocoa powder
  • Cocoa butter, liquor, and syrup
c. Mission Statement

Our mission at Meltiest Choco Dip is to become the number one consumer brand that will grow from just one store to a chain of stores across Oklahoma and the United States.

Vision Statement

Our vision at Meltiest Choco Dip is to dominate the chocolate dipping industry in our locality as fast as possible and also become a well-known brand in our town in just 6 months of doing business.

d. Goals and Objectives
  • To establish a substantial cash balance by the end of year four.
  • To give out $100,000 by our fourth year to not-for-profit organizations that assist women’s health initiatives and organizations.
  • To attain increase sales ten-fold by the end of Year Three.
  • To pay off any loans or equity investments by the end of Year Three.
e. Organizational Structure
  • Store Manager
  • Merchandise Manager
  • Homemade Chocolate Markers
  • Accountants/Cashiers
  • Customers Services Executive
  • Cleaners

Marketing Plan

a. SWOT Analysis
  • Experience of our management team
  • Strategic alliances with companies and organizations that share our vision.
  • Conducting our business fairly and ethically
  • Treating our employees with dignity and respect.
  • New chocolate-covered fruit business
  • Inadequate finance
  • Intense industry competition
  • An outlet in a strategic location
  • Attractive industry for startup entrepreneurs
  • Health consciousness of American consumers growing encouragingly
  • The arrival of a new chocolate factory or related businesses in the same location
  • Economic impasse
  • New government regulations
b. How Do Chocolate Covered Strawberry Businesses Make Money?

Irrespective of how you intend to structure the business, your business will generate revenue and income through the sale of chocolate-covered strawberry. Just like with other dessert shops, most offer special pricing for orders of a dozen or more products.

c. Payment Options
  • Payment with cash
  • Payment via credit cards
  • Payment via online bank transfer
  • Payment via mobile money transfer
d. Sales & Advertising Strategies
  • Reaching out to local bloggers and websites
  • Social media advertising
  • Printing handbills and dropping them in public places
  • Getting a strong online presence
  • Selling at a price that is lower than those of other chocolate businesses.
  • Local radio advertising
  • Banner ads at local venues
  • Develop a customer loyalty program
  • Pay Per Click
  • Use Facebook Advertising.

Financial Projection

a. How Much Should You Charge for your product?

Note that you can charge between one and two dollars for your chocolate covered strawberries. But note that the prices will vary based on decorations, themes, and the type of chocolate or strawberries you use. You can also set the prices as the production cost fluctuates (the price of strawberries and chocolate).

b. How Much Profit Do Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business Owners Make a Year?

According to industry experts, the total profit a year will depend entirely on the volume and theme of the product you sell. Note that a home-based chocolate-covered strawberry business can earn enough for a nice vacation, while well-established chocolate-covered strawberry business can bring in $1,000,000 in annual sales.

c. What Factors Determine the Amount of Profit to Be Made?
  • Your location
  • Nearby competition
  • Level of demand for treatments
  • Business concept
  • Distributors and network
d. What is the Profit Margin of a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business?

According to industry reports, chocolate-covered strawberry businesses can enjoy margins between 55 to 75%.

e. What is the Sales Forecast?
  • Year One: $75,000
  • Year Two: $180,000
  • Year Three: $320,000
  1. Set Up your Shop 

a. How Do You Choose a Perfect Location for Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business

First, you have to understand that chocolate-covered strawberries are easy for customers to transport home to consume, therefore you might want to locate your business in a high-visibility, easy to access location such as in a strip mall near a highway. Also, you should decide if your shop will be only a service location or will offer dine-in treats, and design it accordingly.

b. What State and City are Best to Open a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business?
  • Ocean City, New Jersey
  • Barnstable Town, Massachusetts
  • Longview, Texas
  • South Portland, Maine
  • Tyler, Texas
  • Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut
  • Texarkana, Texas
c. What Equipment is Needed to Operate?

Regardless of how you intend to start your chocolate-covered strawberry business, you’ll need to at least buy chocolate-making equipment. Things like thermometers, various sizes, and shapes of molds, professional utensils, baking sheets, pots and pans, and mixing bowls are all useful tools for making chocolate-covered strawberry. You will also have to invest in wrappers, specialty boxes to hold them, wax papers, bags, lollipop sticks, squeeze bottles, and whatever else you need to create your special designs.

  1. Hire Employees

A good number of chocolate-covered strawberry business owners start out with just friends and family assisting. However, as the clientele base expands and the business starts to grow, you will quickly realize you need a team. A good number of business owners in this sector have found success in offering internships to culinary students. They receive the training and credits required and you in turn get help at a bargain price.

However, regardless of whom you choose to add to your team, have it in mind that your success will depend on everyone being on the same page. Ensure to hold regular meetings to guarantee everyone is clear in terms of your business goals, and that concerns, challenges, and feedback are discussed.

  1. Launch the Business Proper

Starting a successful chocolate-covered strawberry business takes more than knowing how to make decadent chocolates. Starting a new business requires numerous steps, and acquiring licensing is a vital one as it may impact your ability to operate legally. Endeavor to check out your competition and determine what you can do differently to keep people coming back. Constantly seek customer feedback, and respond to the most pressing concerns — whether they’re about the food or not.

a. What Makes a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business Successful?
  • Offering only high-quality products.
  • Being first to market with little initial competition.
  • Forming alliances with vendors and other suppliers of fine products.
  • Selling a product that supports a cause to customers whose purchasing decision is emotionally driven.
  • Establishing a competitive advantage with a strong national marketing strategy.
  • Controlling finances and cash flow by keeping capital and operating costs low.
b. What Happens During a Typical Day at a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business?
  • Ordering ingredients and non-food supplies
  • Mapping out a budget
  • Offering top customer service
  • Scheduling employees
  • Updating business website
  • Maintaining web presence
  • Overseeing quality control
c. What Skills and Experience Do You Need to Build a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Business?
  • Chocolate making
  • An eye for design
  • Good taste
  • Business knowledge and experience
  • Networking skills
  • Customer service