Waitress in a restaurant

A catering business is one of those ventures where it is perfectly scalable, you can run it on a small or a large scale. Many caterers are huge and do large corporate events and functions whereas others are small and possibly specialists, concentrating on smaller, personal or family events. Whichever type you are looking to start there are a few things that require careful consideration. For smaller ventures, you can even start this while you are still studying.

What Type of Catering Will You Specialize in?

We touched on the size of caterers that companies tend to be, but what about style? Are you a simple sandwiches and sausage rolls type firm that offers traditional buffets at decent prices with good service. Or are you more specialist and have a culinary style you can offer, maybe a national cuisine such as Indian or Mexican? It’s good to have a firm idea of who you are as your clients will want to know as well.

How to Staff it

Are you big enough to require staff for your events? If so then it’s most likely that you will need temporary staff and it’s not that hard to find them. You can use a catering staff agency, or even advertise for other students who are looking for a bit of extra cash.

Where to Produce It

You will need to decide where to produce food. You can’t simply make it at home unless you have your kitchen made up to standard, as there are laws regarding the conditions in which you can make commercially sold food.


You will need to transport your wares from where you make them to your customers' events. Now if you are running a very boutique and small business then you may be fine to use your car. But larger gigs will require transport, maybe even refrigerated ones. Buying vans can be pricy though so maybe leasing is the answer? Try to check out what the best current deals are.

Advertising & Promotion

You need to get your name known, and in this type of industry reputation is the best way to get work, but you need your first few gigs to get this exposure. Perhaps offer a cut-rate deal for the first few customers, maybe your college or university needs catering for small events or even friends or relatives parties. Use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to get to new people as well.

Legal Matters

Now, no matter how small you are going to have to register with the relevant tax authorities to pay tax on any earnings. You need to know if you want to simply be a sole trader or register a limited liability company. You need to be aware of the need for public liability insurance as we all assume everything will go well if you are subject of a legal complaint, allegation or claim for compensation from a customer you need to know you are covered.

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