Interested in starting an easy home based catering business? Do you love to cook and entertain? Do friends and family often suggest you should do it professionally?
Welcome to the world of catering. And we have five easy steps to start a home based catering business. Having a catering company is a far cry from shopping and preparing a meal. You can take it from a small company that plans dinners for families to a company that handles weddings, corporate affairs and more. Catering is hot. The industry takes in $7 billion in the U.S. alone. Most of the money is generated via corporate events, holiday parties, weddings, reunions, trade shows, sales functions and special events. Currently there are about 10,000 catering businesses in the U.S.
There is always room for another great catering enterprise. We offer five easy steps to start a home-based catering business. Get you started in the right direction—we’ll leave it to you to conduct your own due diligence mission to make this home based catering business happen.
1. Build your niche. Create your menus. Consider staffing. What type of caterer will you be? Will you be more of a personal chef that also includes special events on occasion? Will you be a catering hall business that invites weddings, corporate affairs and others into your domain? Fine-tune your goals and targets and
start mapping out what your catering business will entail.
2.The first thing you need to do is get a professional food handler’s license. Call your county clerk’s office and ask them about the requirements in your state. Some states do not require them, while a state like California has one hundred pages of regulations on handling food in your home to sell to customers, shops, etc.
3. Get your business in order. Talk to a lawyer about liability. Look into buying a $1 million liability policy. You’ll be using kitchens in catering halls as well as your own. What if an employee gets hurt; are you responsible or is the hall? Pick a proper business structure. Incorporate if you are going for the big jobs, big halls, big events. You can remain a sole proprietor if you focus is on dinner parties or backyard events. Put together a contract for your events. What if the person who hires you doesn’t like the food on the day of the event? Maybe include a clause that says your liability is limited to the amount paid by the customer. Protect yourself with very explicit details. Check with state laws, too, to make sure you comply. You’ll need a business license from the state—some states have different types of business licenses, so pick the right one. You may also need to obtain a city business license. Look into food-serving licenses and liquor licenses, which vary widely from city to city and even block-to-block in larger cities. Learn about taxes from an accountant and/or take a class at a local school, online or from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Many of the SBA classes are online.
4. Your startup costs will vary depending on what type of caterer you will be. Do you need to rent a commercial kitchen? Write a business plan to help you organize what your company will be and to help you understand your costs that will range from buying food and staffing events to printing up marketing materials and building a website to sell your business. Do you need a loan? Visit sba.gov to investigate their programs and check out microloans, grants, peer lending and more.
5. Marketing will include everything from word-of-mouth and social media to your website, business cards, brochure and networking. Look into attending trade shows that are in your field. Learn, grow, develop your business acumen. You might be the greatest chef, now you need to fine-tune your marketing know-how. Or, you could take on a business partner that will be the marketing guru for your firm.
Here’s a link to get more information on how to start a home based catering business. http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matters/starting-home-based-food-production-business-