How To Start a Catering Business (2 parts)

How to Start a Catering Service
By Randy Wilson

Starting a catering business from home can be a great career for people that enjoy planning, cooking and working with customers. The job of a catering business from

home is to ensure the meal, appetizers, desserts and drinks are perfect for the client’s event. Catering services are used for conferences, birthdays, anniversaries, and, of course, weddings.

In fact, you can specialize by doing only wedding catering and keep yourself busy and your catering service growing. You need to be creative and have a great deal of knowledge about food. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Catering can be hard work.

The first step in starting catering company is to create a catering business plan. This plan will be needed if you try to get a loan to help your catering business get off the ground. It will also help you organize yourself and your business, by answering questions, and ensuring your services are professional and dependable.

When you start a catering company you will be required to have many licenses and certifications, and must adhere to Health Department regulations. You will need

to contact your local Health Department for the specific regulations, certifications, licenses, and insurance information for your area. The Health Department also usually requires an inspection of the area to be used for your catering business.

With your catering business start up, you have to decide what types of food you are going to offer. Once you have decided on the food, you need the equipment to prepare the food and a way to transport it. Some places you will be working will have a kitchen that you can use for final preparation, but the majority of work will be done at your location.

If you don’t have a background in cooking or if you want to be able to get more creative and exotic, you may want to look into cooking classes at a local community college or even a culinary college. You may be able to find a culinary college that offers classes in catering business management. Being able to attend those types of classes, as well as cooking classes would be beneficial and relieve a lot of stress.

Once you have your training, certifications, insurance, and you have complied with the local Health Department and any other government regulations, you are ready to finalize what catering services you will provide and the associated fees. The best way to get this information is to contact some local caters. Find out what they offer and their fees. Do the same with any restaurants that offer catering services.

Marketing of any business can seem almost impossible. However, you have many options. You can write a press release for local newspapers and radio stations. You can offer your catering services to fund-raising events. You can invite wedding and event planners to a tasting of some of your food. If they know your work, they are more likely to hire you. Once you get your catering business name into the community, your best advertisement will be word of mouth.

Now you know just a few things about how to start catering. If you’re still interested then your next step is to get more information about the industry and the training required. There are plenty of books, such as the Complete Idiot’s Guide and other similar series that can help you get started. You should also subscribe to industry magazines to stay ahead of the trends and your competition. The internet is another great place to find information, recipes, trends and other issues of catering services.

The last step is to do it. Whether it is just part time or full immersion, remember that through all the hard work that in the long run it will be worth all the effort. People will always need catering services. The potential for growth in this industry is unlimited. There is always room for one more catering business to share the wealth.

© Copyright Randy Wilson, All Rights Reserved.

How to Start a Catering Business, Part 2

By Tony Jacowski

With the reward and fun of the catering business comes hard work and the requirement for a lot of stamina, as you have to work under pressure. Before starting a catering business, you must obtain a license and meet the requirements of the food service industry.


To acquire a license, you must apply to your local Health Department. Before issuing a license, the Health Department inspects your place of business to see whether you meet sanitation requirements. Once you are issued the license, the Health Department constantly conducts routine inspections of the business. These inspections are done to ensure the maintenance of good hygiene and sanitation. Outbreaks of food-borne illnesses have resulted in many restaurants from poor hygiene, inadequate cooking times and improper cooling and storage of food.


A good business plan is a must and will help guide you in establishing the business. Before planning to start a catering business, you must assess your area of specialty such as baked goods, seated diners, lunch boxes, receptions, picnics or wedding receptions. You must also analyze the type of food you intend to serve. Before venturing into a catering business, you must ask yourself some questions to find out whether your business can be successful or not.

The questions are:

• Will the business serve your basic needs?

• Will your business serve the existing market in which the demand exceeds the supply?

• Can your business compete with existing businesses?

Before attempting to start a catering business, you must decide on the type of customers you want to cater to and also study your competitors. Based on this, you can then decide your business promotion strategy. You will also have to decide on the number of staff you may need for service and cleanup. Always consider extra skills and techniques you may have to develop to outshine your competitors.

Initial Setup Costs

Initially, you may start your catering business by renting equipment to reduce startup costs. You can rent equipment such as tables, chairs, utensils, tablecloths, serving equipments and other items. This will help to build your reputation in the market and gradually develop some initial capital for further investment and expansion. It also gives you a chance to evaluate the money and time you need to invest and think about the impact the venture will have on your family.

Food Safety

To be a successful caterer, you must be able to prepare delicious, hygienic and wholesome food. You should maintain high quality standards while preparing the food. It is your prime responsibility to prevent contamination of food, as contamination can lead to serious illness – and this can ruin your reputation and business, in addition to possibly leading to lawsuits.

Despite the pitfalls, you can have a profitable, well run business. When well planned, having your own catering business can be personally and financially rewarding.

Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solutions – Six Sigma Online ( offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.