Thinking of becoming a Caterer? Tips To Get Your Business Started

A lot of times we’re asked what some of the best businesses for women to consider if they are looking for entrepreneurial opportunities. Catering has always been one of our favorite industries for women in business, it provides flexibility, creativity and a chance to make some great money whether you do it as a solo-preneur or envision a larger endeavor. This being said, it takes more than just a good recipe or a flair in the kitchen. Writer Terry Palmer shares the best way to get your catering business started below…we hope you enjoy it.

Woman cookingYour friends constantly marvel over the richness of your chocolate soufflé and ask you time and time again to make them that Chicken Kiev served at your last dinner party. You’re likely one of those many talented individuals who possess the culinary skills necessary to start their own catering business. It is generally the (boring) logistical details, along with start-up costs, that prevent highly-skilled chefs from turning their weekend hobby into a lucrative enterprise. Catering is now a $7 billion per year business, according to the National Association of Catering Executives, and we’ve laid out a few tips to help you get your piece of that pie.

Start-Up Capital

Catering is different, and far less expensive, than owning and operating a restaurant. You know exactly how many guests you will serve ahead of time, your food is produced in bulk all at once and guests generally serve themselves. Your expenses and profits will be different for each event because of all these factors. New caterers should research and find the best small business credit card for their business needs and budget. Business credit cards not only give you an easy way to keep track of all your expenses, but offer cash back and other rewards when your balance is paid-in-full before the next billing cycle.

It is illegal in most states to prepare your cuisine in your own home without the proper licenses. The fees associated with renting space in a commercial kitchen, along with furniture rental, can be lowered by these rewards programs. Some caterers choose to purchase their own dinnerware to add a personal touch, but this is something that can be done later after you’re more established.

Gain Valuable Experience

Your menu and concepts could be second-to-none, but nothing can prepare you for your first contract like observing an experienced caterer. Working as an apprentice for a caterer you know and respect can expose you to the unexpected and get you some real-life experience. Attending a few weddings and birthdays to watch the caterers in action can help you identify mistakes and even “borrow” some techniques from others.

Hire Dedicated Employees

Few caterers can set up the event, cook all the food, and handle all the paperwork. Employees need to be able to keep up with the fast pace, and maintain a balanced attitude regardless of circumstances. Good food is not as tasty when the person serving it has a bad attitude and does not smile. Your employees must be reliable, because one person not showing up to an event can ruin the night and your reputation.

Marketing Is Key

Unless you have a restaurant or office space, which potential customers can walk into, marketing will be the most important part of your business. Customers can smell and sample the food in a restaurant, but must use other indicators to make a decision when this type of empirical data is not present. Your company website should have photo galleries of all your dishes, along with videos showing you preparing some of them. Remember, most customers will likely hire you before ever tasting anything you make, so your demeanor and photo displays can — and will — make or break the booking.

Listen to the upcoming MyCity4HerRadio show that will feature a NACE (National Association of Catering Executives) member who can also share more insight on the catering business. Click here to get more information about the show on March 11, 2013.

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