Starting a Catering Business

Thinking of starting a catering business?

Do you love to cook? Do people beg for invitations to your dinner parties? Are you constantly being asked, "Can I have your recipe?" Then a catering business may be just the right move for you.

The steps to starting a catering business are the same as for any other business. First, find your niche. There are thousands of events using caterers - and thousands of caterers looking for their business. You can't do all of them so find your focus and start from there. Weddings? Corporate events? Birthday parties? Fund raising events? My sister-in-law specializes in themed events. No matter what the theme - Renaissance wedding to Birthday Round Up to Vampire Masquerade Ball to Hawaiian Honeymoon - she will design and prepare a menu sure to fit the mood. Choose your specialty and decide how you can use it to set yourself apart from everyone else.

Choosing your specialty will help you with step two - finding the equipment and supplies you will need. My sister-in-law sometimes searches far and wide to find what she needs for her next event. But I also have a client who delivers homemade lunches to businesses. She lives in a very small town where lunch options are slim and quite frankly - neither of them are very good. She delivers hot or cold lunches to offices, factories, and stores that are looking for another alternative. She needs very little special equipment or supplies and does most of her shopping at the neighborhood supermarket.

Once you have your catering specialty chosen and you know you can find the equipment and supplies you will need, you will have to get the approval of your local health department. You may need a special permit or license and your food preparation area will probably be inspected. There may be a cost for some of these so be sure you have the finances to cover it.

Once you have been given the go-ahead by local officials, you can start with the fun part of catering - designing your menu, choosing the name of your business, and setting up your marketing campaign.

This is just a brief description of the steps involved in starting a catering business. And while it's not as difficult as it may appear, there is quite a bit to know. Fortunately there is also quite a bit of help. Contact the National Association of Catering Executives for all of the support and advice you need.

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