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By
Sarah Ward

How to Start a Catering Business: 11 Key Factors of Catering

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A catering business is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door of the food and hospitality industry. The process of how to start a catering business is similar to that of opening any food and beverage industry business. One of the key differences includes the flexibility a catering business offers. 

You can start a catering business from home and scale it to fit your life and business needs. This blog post walks you through how to start a catering business from home. We’ll also dive into the design aspects of a catering business card, and the crucial components of licensing for your business. Read on to learn how you can start your own catering business.

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How to Start a Catering Business From Home: 8 Steps

The best aspect of a catering business is how easily you can fit it into your lifestyle and schedule. It’s possible to start your business from home and then move to a commercial facility as the business grows. 

You can expand your business or keep it as a side hustle. In fact, this is one of the best side hustles to explore.

The following eight steps will help you as you learn how to start a catering business from home. They will give you the foundation to craft a successful business that works for you and allows you to grow at your own pace.

8. Choose Your Catering Type

Choosing your catering type helps you plan for every other part of your business. Some of the main types of catering include catering for weddings, corporate events, and social events. However, you can get as creative as you desire.

7. Learn About Permits and Licensing

The permits and licenses you’ll need depend on the type of catering you provide and your location. Dive into your local rules and regulations to make sure you have everything covered. 

Permits and licenses aren’t something you want to slack on. The right permits and licenses will keep your business running without any hiccups with the law and health regulations. Keeping your permits and licenses up to date will save you time, money, and countless headaches. 

6. Set Up Your Business

Setting up your business is all about deciding what type of business you want to have. You might choose an LLC, a sole proprietorship, or a partnership. Making this choice will help you move forward with your business plan.

5. Learn About Liability Insurance

For a catering business, liability insurance or eCommerce business insurance will help cover you in case of emergencies. Those emergencies could be someone having an allergic reaction, or a kitchen emergency with cooking plans that lead to food spoilage

"Key Takeaway: A catering business is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door of the food and hospitality industry."

4. Write Your Business Plan

A catering business plan should include everything from the executive summary to your market analysis, financial planning, and business marketing campaigns. Your business plan is the place where you thoroughly examine what you need to make your business successful.

3. Make a Marketing Plan

Your business plan will include your marketing plan. However, the overall marketing plan will be much more comprehensive. 

Even a small business marketing plan is expansive. It involves figuring out business branding and planning your email marketing strategy. There is a lot of marketing ground to cover.

2. Create Your Menu

The menu types you choose will be closely tied to your type of catering business. Once you know the type of catering work you’ll do, you can create menus to suit different occasions. 

Such occasions may include a brunch menu for the weekends and a seasonal menu for the different seasons. You should also have backup menu options in case of issues with the food supply chain.

1. Buy Supplies and Equipment

You’ll need to invest in quality restaurant equipment for your catering business. An order management system will also allow you to easily stock up on supplies. With the best equipment and the right supplies you’ll be ready to cater your first event. 

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Catering Business Card Designs

When you’re starting up a catering business it’s important to make a lasting impression on potential clients. One way to do this is to create attention-grabbing business cards. 

The following three ideas work for any catering business. The right idea for you depends on how you intend to operate your business.

3. Seasonal Business Cards

Seasonal catering business card designs are perfect for a catering business that specializes in holiday events. If this is the case with your business, you can make cards for those seasons to emphasize the work you do.

2. Personalized Business Cards

Personalized or niche-oriented business cards elevate your design to showcase your specific business. If you specialize in dessert menu options, create a dessert-themed card. If you serve the best entrée food, make your card themed around a full-course meal

1. Classic Business Cards

You can never go wrong with a classic business card. Your business name, contact information, and a quote or distinct image are all you need to make a long-lasting impression. An easily identifiable and elegant business card will elevate your business.

What Licenses are Needed to Start a Catering Business?

The licenses you need to start a catering business depend on the scope of your business and your location. 

Some of the licenses you need to start a catering business include:

  • General business license
  • Doing business as (DBA) license
  • Employer identification number
  • Home occupation permit–if you’re basing your business from your home
  • Caterer permit
  • Health permit
  • Catering business insurance
  • Food handler permit
  • Restaurant food service license
  • Caterer’s permit with alcohol–getting a liquor license will help

You may find that your specific needs require more or less than what’s included above. However, these licenses and permits are a good place to start your research.

Frequently Asked Questions About Starting Catering Businesses

Starting a catering business is no small feat. There's plenty to learn when starting the journey of owning and operating a catering business. 

There are also some facts and figures should familiarize yourself with to help get started. Our answers to the following frequently asked questions will help.

How Profitable Is a Catering Business?

A successful catering business is quite profitable in terms of small businesses in the service and food industry. New catering companies can expect to bring in around $30,000 a year whereas established businesses often see profits of $80,000 a year. Be mindful of the fact that you have to factor the costs of running the business into that number. 

Is It Hard to Start a Catering Business?

No, catering is considered one of the easier food service businesses to start because it’s an easily scalable small business. However, it comes with all the hassles of running a business. Keep in mind that you can keep your catering business small or allow it to grow larger based on how you want to manage it.

What Are the Three Types of Catering?

The three main types of catering are:

  1. Wedding catering.  It’s common for businesses that focus on catering weddings–including winery wedding events–to primarily stick to such events. 
  2. Corporate catering. This type of catering covers everything from corporate dinner events to corporate breakfast and a company cafeteria
  3. Social event catering. A social event could be a birthday party or a holiday celebration. Catering for social events is a booming business because the event possibilities are endless. 

Most catering businesses fall somewhere within these three categories. Your business may be a mix of multiple categories. For example, you may consider focusing on corporate catering and social event catering. 

Is Catering a Good Side Hustle?

Yes, catering is a good side hustle. The seasonal nature of many catering businesses means you can work when it suits you best. You can take on as many jobs as you want and build your schedule around your main job. Catering is also ideal for scaling up when you’re looking to take it from a side hustle to your main source of income.

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Starting a Catering Business: Catered To Your Business Needs

Starting a catering business will take concentrated effort, time, and a decent amount of capital. When you put in the work you’ll have a business that suits your needs and can grow with your business plan. 

As you get your catering business off the ground, check out BinWise for your inventory program needs. BinWise Pro, paired with the BinScan mobile app, can help you organize your inventory and manage your business with ease. Check out BlueCart to mix with BinWise and cover your order management needs. 

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