A catering business is a service-oriented business. Caterers will provide food, sometimes supplies and service for social events like weddings, anniversary parties and just about any other gathering.
What skills are helpful?
The number one skill that would be helpful in running a catering business would be the love of food and the passion to cook. To run a successful catering service you will need to be able to work well under pressure, keep your calm and be reliable. When you are offering a service based business you are selling your dependability instead of a product. Deliver what you promise.
What tools are needed?
If you are just beginning a catering service you might be able to eliminate some start up costs by renting equipment instead of outright purchasing it. In the long run renting is more expensive, if it’s done repeatedly. But, until you get a few contracts and some cash flow, it could be the way to go.
Besides the equipment you will need to do all the cooking, you’ll need chafing dishes for serving the food hot and insulated containers for transporting it. You will need some other basic business items as well. A phone line, fax machine, client contracts, and possibly even a computer and internet access if you plan on working online at all.
How do you get started?
My first suggestion would be to hold a ‘pretend’ catering event. Have your friends and family be the guinea pigs. Find out what cooking for a large group of people is like if you haven’t done it already. Having a ‘pretend’ party will give you first hand experience with the planning, cooking and pulling off the social event.
If things go well and you are still ready to move forward with your decision and start this catering service you need to choose a name. Even before choosing a name, it might be a good idea to check into the legalities of beginning your own business. Check to see if you need a permit, find out what your local and state laws are in regards to starting your own business.
Once you have all the legal issues worked out, you need to decide how to market yourself. Print up some flyers and hang them at local grocery stores, your library, etc. Send out a brochure to area companies that could possibly use catering services for social events. Have business cards made up so that they are handy to give out when you are in public.
If you have a love for cooking especially in large amounts and providing a service to others starting a catering business might be right up your alley. Research other caterer’s in your area; you will want to offer reasonable prices and find ways that you can make yourself unique so that you aren’t just another caterer out there. With time, dedication and perseverance you can become successful!