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 step guide to starting your corn maze business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
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 long it will take you to break even?
- 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 corn maze business?
Owners should account for the following expenses:
- Crop planting/maintenance
- Employee salaries
- Registration fees/permits
- Office supplies
- Commercial insurance
The exact costs for an owner will depend on where they live and how far they want their marketing campaign to reach. Some sources put starting a corn maze from scratch at around $3,000 to $4,000.
What are the ongoing expenses for a corn maze business?
Owners will need to budget for insurance, staff salaries, and maze maintenance. This includes repairing or replacing equipment, yearly registration fees, and planting new seeds.
Who is the target market?
The target market can be anyone looking for something fun and different to try. Families may want to come with their children, or teenagers may come with a group of friends.
How does a corn maze business make money?
A corn maze business will charge people to enter the maze based on operation costs, or they may charge a flat fee for private parties. Owners may also sell food and drinks to customers to supplement their income.
How much can you charge customers?
The average cost for tickets is typically around $7 to $10 for adults (13 and up) and $5 to $7 for kids. Children under two are free.
How much profit can a corn maze business make?
Profits for a corn business will depend on how you structure your pricing. However, a private party that charges $15 a head can easily generate 50% profit margins or more. Because the maze has already been constructed, the party may just need a few employees and concessions to operate.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Consider selling related crops to your customers in addition to prepared concessions. For example, you can set up a pumpkin patch on the property or a display of various fall squashes. These extras make the maze that much more versatile. People can take their kids and then pick up a few local specialties to make dinner the next day.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your corn maze business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
For most small businesses forming an LLC is a great option, but if you still want to weigh all your options check our our article, What Structure Should I Choose for My Business?
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?.
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.
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.
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.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
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.
How to promote & market a corn maze business
Because corn mazes are community-centric events, try to post flyers around local hang-outs (e.g., coffee shops, fitness centers, etc.). Build a website where people can find your information if they’re searching for fun fall events. The website doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it should include the most pertinent details about the maze. You can also consider running radio ads, but depending on the price of the ads, you may get enough word-of-mouth without additional advertising.
Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.
How to keep customers coming back
Highlight how your corn maze is different from others in the area. Make sure your flyers or online advertising give an accurate portrayal of the maze, so people have a good idea of what to expect. Most people will likely only go through it once, but you can retain long-term customers by creating spectacular designs that change every year.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Corn Maze Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
People with a passion for novelty entertainment. Owners should want to delight people with exciting twists and turns in the maze, giving customers a real challenge they'll want to tell their friends and family about.
What happens during a typical day at a corn maze business?
Owners will spend their time constructing and maintaining the maze, working with customers, and managing staff. They should also budget time for negotiating an insurance policy and marketing their business.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful corn maze business?
Ideally, you’ll have some experience working on a farm, but it’s not required. Much of what you need can be found online, so you really just need a can-do attitude to make it happen. If you already own a large piece of land, you can designate a space to plant the corn for the maze. If not, you'll need to rent land, construct the maze, and then plant seeds.
What is the growth potential for a corn maze business?
Owners have an opportunity to get the majority of the community involved, especially if their maze is satisfying enough to spark plenty of word-of-mouth advertisements. However, corn mazes are limited by distance in that people will only travel so far to attend. Owners should assess the demographics and population of their community before determining if they should move forward.
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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 corn maze business?
The corn maze should be thick enough that people are genuinely unsure of where to go next. If people can clearly see the exits, it encourages people to take shortcuts to the end, which can ultimately destroy the crops. You can use other designs for inspiration for your maze, but add your own personal spin to make it special. Consider paying homage to your community. For example, you may want to make the center of the maze the shape of the first letter of the town or the symbol of a local sports team.
When it comes to the type of corn you’ll use, you want a crop that can hold up to drought. If your maize maze withers halfway through, your sales will plummet. Seeds like Oaxacan Green Dent or Hopi Blue hold up well against drought. Plant corn in both directions to encourage resistance during windstorms. If they’re planted perpendicularly, they’re more likely to remain standing and less likely to pave the way for impatient maze solvers.
Try to make the maze as versatile as possible. For example, making the maze family-friendly during daylight hours before transitioning to a haunted attraction, complete with fake chainsaws and terrifying jump-scares. Kids can attend during the day while teenagers can return at night for the thrill of a lifetime. You can also rent out the maze for private parties. For example, a child's birthday celebration or a retirement party. You can even market the maze as a professional event. Employees of an organization can team-build by working together to solve the puzzle.
Finally, your maze should be as safe as possible. Your insurance should cover any potential accidents or injuries people may have in the maze, but you should also be regularly monitoring the maze for hazards. From rocks to holes, there are plenty of ways for people to accidentally harm themselves. Some people may even panic because they begin to feel trapped. Your employees should know the maze by heart in case they need to quickly evacuate someone.
How and when to build a team
You’ll need employees who can take tickets and help manage the maze. Employees will need to be friendly, calm under pressure, and able to memorize the many twists and turns of the maze. They should feel comfortable working with people of all age groups.