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Recipe to start up a catering business from home

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Are you thinking of entering the catering business? You are not alone! In fact, people all over the world are trying to get in on this every single day! Starting a catering business from home is a low-risk way to test your product, find your target market and learn how the world of food and business work together.

Do your research

First of all, being a skilled cook or baker doesn’t always automatically grant you success in the catering world. Customers aren’t just choosing products, but convenience, pricing and the service which comes with a caterer. It is just as, if not more, important to be able to sell these points of the business as well as your food and flavors.

When starting out, it will be important to work out what sort of catering business you want to run, what your unique selling point is, and how much time and commitment you have to give to the cause.

Researching your target market and marketing your brand is the key to your success, so make sure you put the legwork in before starting out, so you don’t set yourself up for a failure. Talk to your friends to see what events and reasons they would hire a catering company for, and then what they look for in the service and cost. If you are looking to cater at corporate events, be sure to talk to any business contacts that you have and find out exactly what is expected. How many people are usually at these things? How long do they run for? How many staff will you require? What about drinks?

It’s also a good idea to gather your friends and family together to taste your food, as well as giving you practice at feeding a large group of demanding people. Ask for honest feedback on your food on what they think can be improved on with flavors and presentation, as well as how you work either by yourself or as part of your team.

You will also need to know what price range you will be targeting. A good, and fun, way to do this will be to try out your competitors to see what their standards are and then price yourself somewhere between them and your cost price. By researching your local competition, you will work out how much people in your area are willing to pay for a catering service.

Know the legalities

You will need to register your business with your local authority a certain amount of time before you carry out any food events or cater for large amounts of people outside of your own home. You will also need to comply with food safety regulations and will be subject to a food hygiene inspection of your home kitchen.

It’s probably worth reading the government standards and advice on food standards of packaging, food safety, and traceability. Be sure to label all of your food correctly, even if it is just you who is going in and out of your fridge on a daily basis and be sure that you are not misleading customers as to the quality or origin of your food.

It is also worth remembering that if you will be playing music in a public space, you will either need to gain a license or play royalty free music. You can download and playlists from websites such as https://www.melodyloops.com/music-for/cooking/, which will ensure that you won’t have to pay out any fees, as well as being sure that you are on the right side of the law.

If you will be delivering food via a business vehicle, you will need to register your car or van with business insurance. Business insurance is, typically, more expensive than your standard insurance, so you will need to factor this into your plan from the start.

Get trained

Depending on where you are, you will likely need to gain a Food Hygiene Certificate of some sort if you are handling food, but it’s also worth trying to get your head around some basic business knowledge too.

Many local colleges and schools offer free business classes for startups, so it’s worth checking out what is on offer. These classes will give you insight into how best to do your books, marketing ideas and strategies, employment best practice if you need to bring people in and a lot about environment and health issues which will all make a big impact on your catering business.

Establish your company

If you don’t have any marketing skills when you go into your new venture, it could be worth investing in a marketing consultant who understands your client market and business sector. Depending on who you want to target, your marketing campaigns can vary widely. For example, your advertising will be completely different if you are looking to cater for birthday parties than it will be for large weddings or corporate events.

Getting involved with local food markets and events is one of the best ways to get noticed in your area, as it will raise awareness of your product and brand within the area where you currently work. One of the advantages to food festivals is that, not only are you putting your brand out there, but you are also putting a face to your business too, which can be much more effective than carefully tailored Facebook posts!

Saying that, a good online presence is essential and investing in good photography and copywriting is a must-do for your business. Consider your website and social media channels as the face of your business; if it looks cheap and not well thought out, people will assume that your product isn’t that great either. Make sure your site and posts are free of typos, spelling mistakes, and bad grammar, and that it looks professional and interesting. Remember to make it easy for customers to get in contact with you too – whether that’s an email address, links to your social sites or a phone number!

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