Starting A Successful Catering Business

By: Tony Jacowski

With the reward and fun of the catering business comes hard work and the requirement for a lot of stamina, as you have to work under pressure. Before starting a catering business, you must obtain a license and meet the requirements of the food service industry.


To acquire a license, you must apply to your local Health Department. Before issuing a license, the Health Department inspects your place of business to see whether you meet sanitation requirements. Once you are issued the license, the Health Department constantly conducts routine inspections of the business. These inspections are done to ensure the maintenance of good hygiene and sanitation. Outbreaks of food-borne illnesses have resulted in many restaurants from poor hygiene, inadequate cooking times and improper cooling and storage of food.


A good business plan is a must and will help guide you in establishing the business. Before planning to start a catering business, you must assess your area of specialty such as baked goods, seated diners, lunch boxes, receptions, picnics or wedding receptions. You must also analyze the type of food you intend to serve. Before venturing into a catering business, you must ask yourself some questions to find out whether your business can be successful or not.

The questions are:

- Will the business serve your basic needs?
- Will your business serve the existing market in which the demand exceeds the supply?
- Can your business compete with existing businesses?

Before attempting to start a catering business, you must decide on the type of customers you want to cater to and also study your competitors. Based on this, you can then decide your business promotion strategy. You will also have to decide on the number of staff you may need for service and cleanup. Always consider extra skills and techniques you may have to develop to outshine your competitors.

Initial Setup Costs

Initially, you may start your catering business by renting equipment to reduce startup costs. You can rent equipment such as tables, chairs, utensils, tablecloths, serving equipments and other items. This will help to build your reputation in the market and gradually develop some initial capital for further investment and expansion. It also gives you a chance to evaluate the money and time you need to invest and think about the impact the venture will have on your family.

Food Safety

To be a successful caterer, you must be able to prepare delicious, hygienic and wholesome food. You should maintain high quality standards while preparing the food. It is your prime responsibility to prevent contamination of food, as contamination can lead to serious illness - and this can ruin your reputation and business, in addition to possibly leading to lawsuits.

Despite the pitfalls, you can have a profitable, well run business. When well planned, having your own catering business can be personally and financially rewarding.

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