5 Steps To Start Your Own Catering Business


If you think you’re business-minded, have the cooking skills, and a meticulous taste, then entering the catering business might be a great investment for you. If you want to start your own catering business, you need to ensure that you take the appropriate steps to attain your target business goals. You should have a definite plan in capitalizing, marketing and growing your business.

This article will discuss the necessary steps that you should follow in starting your own catering business:

  1. Conduct a Catering Business Marketplace Research

First and foremost, you need to research your target marketplace. Before launching your catering company, check for possible competitors in your area. Visit the websites of major key players in the business and check out their list of services, menus, prices, and target customers.

Here are some pointers to remember when doing your research:

  • People and companies availing of catering services look beyond food. Clients also look for the best benefits.
  • A successful caterer sells convenience, unique menus, white-glove service, and affordability.
  • Conduct a short survey starting with family and relatives. Ask if they are using catering services and the reasons why they like hiring a caterer. Also, ask about the qualities and benefits they’re looking for a catering company.
  • Read helpful online resources about running a catering business, such as a catering blog, tutorial, or video.
  1. Identification of Potential Customers

As a new catering business, you need to start from the bottom and have a good business plan. You should begin with a good number of clients to maintain operation, and grow as a business. Identifying your potential customers means using your connections and support system.

Here are some tips to obtain good prospective clients:

  • Call your peers and connections in the business community. Find out what companies are looking for in a catering company.
  • Cold-call potential customers. Inform them that you are not selling anything and that you’re simply after their answers to questions related to catering services.
  • Browse social media and search for fan pages, comments, and discussions about managing a catering business and what customers like about a particular catering company.
  1. Create a Niche and Establish Your Brand

The catering business is too general, so you’ve got to think of a unique catering concept for your business. By determining your niche, you can start to create and establish your brand through different marketing strategies.

Here are some examples of niche options and concepts that you can try:

  • Birthdays, debut parties, bachelorette, and holiday parties
  • Corporate events (e.g., executive luncheons, cocktail parties)
  • Concerts, festivals, and sports events
  • Weddings and anniversaries
  • Music-inspired catering style with singing waiters and dancing waitresses
  • Themed events (e.g., cartoon character costume-inspired catering style)

You can also build and narrow down your niche based on the type of food or service you’re offering such as:

  • Grilled foods
  • Seafood
  • Vegan and other healthy menus
  • Upscale menus
  • Affordable menus
  1. Do Basic Business Startup Tasks

You will start as a small catering business, so you need to know all the requirements before opening a catering business. Here are the startup tasks you need to do:

  • Get a business permit.
  • Obtain a post office box.
  • Set-up a business email address and website.
  • Set up a corporation and buy liability insurance.
  • Meet zoning requirements.
  • Check the rules of your homeowner’s association, if you are part of an HOA.
  • Contact your state’s department of health to find out how to obtain a food service license.
  • Know the requirements to meet the standards for your kitchen, food storage, transportation, and staff food handling.
  • Find out if you need to take a course to become a certified food manager.
  1. Write Your Business Plan

To ensure everything is documented correctly, you need to draft and write a business plan for your catering business. It should include the following:

  • Amount of capital
  • Target launch date
  • Target goals
  • Contacts (e.g., suppliers and advertisers)
  • Hiring and recruitment process
  • Necessary documents and requirements (e.g., work permits, licenses)
  • A detailed list and description of products and services
  • Marketing strategies (e.g., newspaper ads, flyers, social media ads, or other digital marketing campaigns)


Before you spend thousands of dollars on purchasing cooking equipment, kitchen utensils, and appliances, you need to know how much you’ll need to set for upfront and maintenance costs, including payment for permits, licenses, and documents.

Learn from a  professional, read accounting books, check online resources, and interview people who are working from the catering business. You also need to know the basic skills in accounting and finance, unless you have the money to hire a professional for your catering business. Good luck to your catering business!