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Does anyone know how much money I need to start a small bean to chocolate bar shop.

I am passionate about chocolate and want to start a bean to chocolate bar shop in Maryland. I have no experience in the chocolate business. I intend to rent a space for the shop.

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$150,000 at least

Thanks for your prompt respone. Does the $150,000 include rent and chocolate machinery like tempering machine and cocoa bean grinding machine?

Part of starting a business is writing a detailed business plan, which includes investigating the costs you are talking about here as well as every other aspect of running a business. You will never succeed without a business plan. I would suggest you research the equipment you might need and the costs of the various options at the same time. This is due diligence and you really need to complete this before you decide if opening this business is even viable.

I agree with Andrea.

Thank you Andrea. I appreciate your input.

When I opened my shop (not chocolate exclusive) I went to the local SBDC (Small Business Development Center) and they held my hand as I did the business plan.  At the end was a sort of stamp of approval for the SBA loan program.  So not only did I have professionals looking at my numbers and making sure they were realistic, but I then had money on the backside to actually make it happen.  The advice about working for someone else is invaluable even if you present yourself as an unpaid stage.

Rob:

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with me. I am really grateful:))))))

Priscilla -

Andrea's recommendation is quite good. You can work from a zero-basis and figure out what it's going to cost, or you can start out with a sum you're willing to invest, and then figure out what you can do for that money. In either case you need to know what your costs are going to be. I don't know what commercial rents are in the part of Maryland you're talking about and I don't know the extent of the products you intend to make (and/or buy in) and sell. Your question is ambiguous, even: are you going to making chocolate from the bean or are you going to be selling bars from craft chocolate makers? If you're making chocolate from the bean then you need to have an idea of how much chocolate you need to make in order for you to have a real business.

One of the challenges I see all the time is that people wanting to go the bean-to-bar route start out thinking that all the two biggest capital expenses are a $7000 CocoaTown grinder and a $2500 Chocovision tempering machine. That may be the case if you want to make 70kg of chocolate a week, but that's not a business.

Also - get some experience somewhere before you begin. Work in a retail store and in a candy kitchen. Make sure you really know what you're going to be getting yourself into.

:: Clay

Commercial rent is expensive in Maryland. I know it takes more than $7000 cocoaTown grinder and $2500 chocovision machine. I actually thought it takes $1million to open a bean to chocolate bar shop, but I guess it is lower than that. I will take your advice and find a candy shop to work in. Thanks.

Priscilla:

1 tonne (MT, 1000kg, 2204 lbs) of chocolate is about 10,000, 100gr bars.

Your capital equipment costs will depend on what approaches you take: are you interested in a "real" roaster or are you going to be using a convection oven? Are you going work with wet-mill style grinders, a universal, or some other method?

You'll need tempering and bar molding equipment and at this scale you may want some sort of wrapping machine.

Your choices here will determine how much space you need. Are you in an industrial park (cheap but no ambiance) or in a retail location (expensive)?

Many of the people who have opened small chocolate businesses are what I would call under-capitalized with total budgets for equipment and space of under $100k. You may not need a million, but you probably want to have enough capital to see you through at least two years' rent and salaries, plus capital expenditure, build-out, ingredients, utilities, marketing and advertising, etc.

Thank you again Clay for your valuable advice. It is much appreciated. I prefer to be over funded than under funded.

Mr. Rasmussen (Potomac Chocolate?) started his business in his garage and I remember him saying on You tube that his best expenditure was $75 on something he bought on Craig list!

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