Do you have a deep love of preparing delicious meals presented with style and panache? Is your house the go-to spot for Thanksgiving? If you have a head for business, a talent for cooking, and a heart for serving others, you may have a future as a caterer!
The best way to start your catering business is at home in the kitchen. Many begin their culinary adventure as a small, part-time business at home and expand to full-time later down the line when the clients start to roll in. Seasoned caterers also recommend exploring an internship with a big catering company, or working a few events to see if this fast-paced and demanding career is for you.
Let’s discuss some tools to start your at-home catering business this spring. Roll up your sleeves and get ready to leave your romanticism at the door, because this career requires the stamina to handle bridezillas and businessmen alike!
1. Prioritize Legal Considerations
Contact your state’s health department to find out if there are any permits, licenses, or special inspections you need to start your home-based catering business. Legal parameters can vary state-by-state, and you want to make certain your bases are covered before the clients start rolling in.
2. Invest In Equipment
After you have checked all the boxes in terms of legality, it’s time to get your supplies! Many states require separate equipment or serving utensils that are only used to handle your clients’ food (serving plates and dishes, pots, pans, etc), and investing in a quality set of kitchen tools that are used only for business can up your professionalism and help you stay within the legal food service guidelines.
3. Focus On Your Niche
What food do you love to prepare the most? When you’re first starting out, it can be helpful to zero in on a specific skill and use it to your advantage. Many caterers succeed by committing to a niche, like conquering a specific dish or focusing on certain types of events. For instance, if you are an expert in cooking Kosher, advertise your services for events like Bar Mitzvahs. If you have a passion for presentation, consider promoting your skills in wedding publications.
4. Hone Your Business Plan
To protect yourself and simplify your life, consider setting up an LLC, or Limited Liability Company to separate your business and personal assets. Create a business plan and decide how you would like your company to be run. Do you want to fly solo and keep it small, or hire a partner and staff and expand your empire? Next comes the fun part… naming your business and creating a menu to share with future clients! Creating a set menu of offerings can make your life much easier and simplify choices for the client.
5. Market Yourself Like A Champ
To get started in your at-home catering business, you must go the extra mile to market your skills. Start with creating a website that clearly states your rates, availability, and menu, and search for professionals in your area like Minneapolis web designers to help you create an online presence as enticing as your food!
Remember when we talked about conquering your niche? Put the same principle in play when deciding where and how to advertise your services. Spending a little on marketing can go a long way, and once you get started, word-of-mouth and referrals will become great advertising for you as well.
If you excel at managing different personalities, have excellent communication skills, and pride yourself on being organized, punctual, and committed to excellence, catering has the potential to be an extremely rewarding (and tasty!) career option. Get ready to roll up your sleeves and use these delicious tips to start your at-home catering business!