SBDC’s EATS program helps two motivated siblings find sweet success

Business planning and forecasting helps Holey Scoops ice cream parlor put a smile on Palm Desert’s face.

Becca and Aaron Brukman have always been hard workers. After college Becca worked for a congressional member while her brother Aaron took a job with online retail behemoth Amazon. Despite their successes, both were drawn toward entrepreneurship.

The Brukmans always liked making people smile, so they decided to open an ice cream shop. The only problem was that neither had experience in the food industry or with opening a brick and mortar location.

Luckily, Becca came across an SBDC newsletter touting its EATS program.

EATS is a training program for food startups that offers free six-week courses on how to successfully start your own food industry business.

“The structure and specific focus of the EATS program was terrific. It helped us avoid a lot of costly mistakes and took the guesswork out of opening a food business.” Becca Brukman, co-owner Holey Scoops ice cream shop.

SBDC consultant and EATS instructor, Greg Bell, got the Brukman siblings to write out a business plan that put their dream down on paper.

“Writing it all down lets you take apart the scary unknowns. Proper financial forecasting is the key. Numbers don’t lie.” – Greg Bell, EATS Instructor and SBDC food consultant

Greg helped the Brukmans determine their menu pricing using the actual costs of their products as well as the day-to-day costs of running the business.

He also helped them map out realistic timelines of how long each phase of opening their business would take.

Becca and Aaron opened Holey Scoops ice cream in Palm Desert this past December. The event was celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony facilitated by the SBDC. The ceremony was attended by the city’s mayor and members of the local congressional and state assembly offices.

So far, with a little help from the SBDC EATS program, the business has been a very sweet success.

Looking to become the next great food entrepreneur?

Write It Out – Plan It Out

Put your dream down on paper in words. Create a specific business plan that will allow you to analyze what it will actually take to make your business a success.

Plan And Project – Know The Actual Costs

When planning your menu pricing you need to know not only how much your actual products cost you but also how much it costs to run your business. Be sure to account for rent, insurance, equipment, permit fees, as well as employee salaries and benefits.

It’s All About A (Previous) Location

When scouting locations look for a space that’s been home to a similar business. If you’re opening an ice cream shop find a location that sold smoothies or blended coffee drinks. Places that have the same sinks, prep stations and seating areas already laid out will save you a lot in build out costs.

Do Your Research – Why Is This Space Available

If you find an empty retail space that was home to a similar business do your homework and find out why it closed. Was there a problem with parking, the landlord or the building’s plumbing? Or, did the owners grow so rich they decided to close up shop and retire to the French Riviera? It’s better to know this before you sign a lease.

Check Your Business Plan Regularly And Stay On Course

Don’t just make a business plan and tuck it away in a drawer. Refer back to it over the course of your business’s lifespan. See if you’re meeting your initial financial projections and if not then find out why. A plan is only useful if you stick to it.

Keep Your Hand On The Pulse

Personally go over your inventory each week, not just at the end of the month. It’s easier to know if things are going wrong by checking on them often. You want to catch catch small, fixable problems before they become large, expensive ones.

Be Ready To Pivot And Downsize Your Menu

Streamline your menu according to customer demand. No need to order 50 gallons of cauliflower-flavored gelato each week if your customers aren’t buying it. Also, don’t sell frozen bananas but get 20 requests for them a day? Then you might want to start selling frozen bananas instead of an unpopular item.

Why Participate In EATS

It’s Food Industry Focused

Unlike other startup educational programs, EATS is focused solely on the food-related businesses

Learn From Real Experts With Real Experience

All EATS program instructors have years of real world experience working in and operating successful food businesses

Know Your Costs Upfront – The Art Of Financial Forecasting

EATS will help you make a business plan that you can use to determine your monthly operating expenses before you open

Build Better Timelines To Help Manage Your Expectations

You’ll get a clear timeline of how long each phase of opening your business will actually take

Avoid Permit Issues Before They’re An Issue

EATS can help your city inspectors before you file for permits so you can correct any problems beforehand

Support From Soup To Nuts

EATS will give you support from the planning stages through the actual opening and ribbon-cutting of your food business

Related Expertise

Visit the EATS page to learn more about this SBDC startup program.

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