Start a cider mill business by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your cider mill business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a cider mill business?
The costs involved to open a cider mill business can be relatively low, especially if you’re trying this out as a hobby first. A used five-gallon press is only $100, and you may not need much more than this to make a cider! But for those looking to do things on a larger scale, they’ll likely need to spend several thousand dollars for their equipment, plus the costs of the land and space, advertising efforts, salaries for the staff, and insurance for the business.
What are the ongoing expenses for a cider mill business?
Ongoing expenses include equipment maintenance, staff salaries, commercial insurance and the cost of the actual ingredients.
Who is the target market?
Most people drink cider in some form or another, so the market is fairly open. Cider goes great with a number of different foods or just on its own, making it one of the easier products to sell.
How does a cider mill business make money?
Cider mills typically sell their cider to supermarkets, grocery stores, and restaurants and bars, though they can also sell directly to consumers via their website or a small stand at a farmers market. They may also host paid tours through the mill and sell additional cider to those who stop by.
How much can you charge customers?
Hard apple ciders can be sold for $10 or more in a restaurant or bar, while a normal apple cider would be around $1 for eight ounces. Sparkling cider sells for about $3 for 25 ounces or so.
How much profit can a cider mill business make?
Considering apples can be purchased or grown for pennies, selling a single bottle for $3 can make for a profitable business. Assuming a 40% profit margin, you’d need to sell 1,000 bottles per week to make $1,200 in profits at that price.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Having your own orchard on the premises can be a great way to increase your profits. You can hold family friendly activities, such as apple picking or bobbing. Or consider opening up a small bar in your cider mill if you serve hard beverages. Depending on your location, you can potentially rent out the space for special events, such as weddings or retirement parties. There are plenty of neighborhoods where a full-service cider mill can really thrive.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Cider Mill Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your cider mill business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a Cider Mill. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Certificate of Occupancy
A Cider Mill business is generally run out of a storefront or at the mill. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a Cider Mill business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your Cider Mill business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
When selling food, you will need licensing from a local health department; all establishments serving food are required to pass a health inspection. Tips for faring well on a health inspections
There are federal regulations regarding what can and cannot be added to, sold as, and processed with food. Attached is a resource from the Food and Drug Administration detailing the process of starting a food business: How to Start a Food Business
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
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How to promote & market a cider mill business
You can start off by selling to friends or family members, or you can start making friends with distributors right away. Those who are going to open large-scale cider mills should consider holding a free party where they give out samples or let people take part in the pressing process. There are also online ads that you can use to entice people to try your product. Paid ads are often the best way to drum up business quickly.
How to keep customers coming back
Customers want a quality product that they can tell their friends about. Ciders need to be consistent in terms of taste, and they should also be relatively easy to find and order. Consider handing out branded coasters to bars to encourage people to learn more about your cider. This is an extra expense, but it may be exactly what you need to drum up genuine interest.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
Start A Cider Mill Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
People who appreciate all that goes into a quality apple cider. They need to be willing to tinker with recipes to achieve the best possible flavors.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a cider mill business?
Staff at a cider mill will spend the majority of their time sorting through, loading, and transforming apples into juice. However, there will also need to be time devoted to equipment maintenance, marketing agendas, and new initiatives to further the business.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful cider mill business?
Owners should have some idea of how distribution works when it comes to opening up their mill. It’s not always easy to get store owners or bars to stock your product, so having some type of relationship or understanding of the logistics can help. Organization will be key to both manufacturing and zeroing in on the demographics will appreciate different products the most. Cider mill owners should also know how cider is made, and how recipes can be altered to fit the demands of the public.
What is the growth potential for a cider mill business?
Growth potential can be excellent for someone willing to go the extra mile to make a quality product. Despite the saturation and variety of ciders today, there’s still room to grow — especially for those who can satisfy underserved markets.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a cider mill business?
Pressing cider is pretty easy to do once you know the mechanics of how it works. But just because it’s easy to make doesn’t mean it’s easy to perfect. Cider mill owners have to be willing to put some effort into their product if they want to turn a profit. Sampling what’s available in stores and learning more about the competition is one of the best ways to start. You may also want to begin production in a garage or similar space before branching out. Once you know the demand and the way your product is received, it should be easier to make a name for yourself.
And like any business, owners need to find an angle they can use to appeal to the skeptical. Many people have one brand and they stick with it, or they think they don't like cider to begin with. For example, some people won’t drink cider because they think it's too sweet, or because they don’t need the extra calories in their life. In that case, you’d want to create a well-developed cider that was able to offer quality flavor with the sugar or excess calories — a tall order for anyone!
But while this will take owners some serious hard work, it's this kind of flexibility and dedication that should make your business much more appealing to fellow business owners who want to offer a quality product to their customers. Once you have the distribution you need, you should be able to sustain your business for many years to come.
How and when to build a team
You can start selling and distributing small batches of cider without any help at all. But if you open something larger, you’ll need people who can run the press, assist with packaging, and help design new marketing campaigns. Employees don’t necessarily need first-hand experience with cider mills, but it will help for them to have general knowledge of the pressing and distribution process.