But Burnett was able to build a massively successful business—so much so that she actually began tapering off of catering in 2019 to focus more on event planning—off little more than an idea that was born in a church kitchen. Columbia – The Business License Office of City Hall issues businesses business licenses which are required for any business activity. “When you’re putting food in somebody’s mouth, that’s the best time to find your next client,” she says. Answered March 5, 2018. The estimated size of the catering industry is about 15,000-20,000 crores in India with an approximate annual growth of 25-30%. Bakeries are sometimes an exception. I have a business and a license but its for a internet business. A business license will be the first thing you need to get. Otherwise, it depends on what kind of catering you specialize in. Lawton – Child care facilities, food establishments, secondhand dealers, tow trucks and others are required to obtain a business license from the City of Lawton. You’ll also need to choose the business entity you want your business to operate as. Caterers can work independently for events, parties, meetings and weddings, or the caterer can contract through event facilities.Starting a catering business requires a broad range of skills. Step 5: Determine your pricing. “It’s through the guests that are attending the events you’re catering for.”. While any business entity can technically be used to start a food truck most operators will choose either an LLC, Sole Proprietorship or a Cottage Food Business designation. States often require training for management or staff who handle alcohol. Before you get to the following steps to starting a catering business, note that you should decide on the type of catering business you want to start before learning how to start a catering business. “I started off doing custom proposals for people, and I’ve stayed with them throughout these nine years,” she says. Caterers can work independently for events, parties, meetings and weddings, or the caterer can contract through event facilities.Starting a catering business requires a broad range of skills. – Most local governments require a business license (or business tax registration). “The ability to be a MacGyver is a requirement. There … Hiring and training staff is something that came organically for Burnett, but that might not be the case for you, so do whatever is best for your business is recommended here. When you do make the plan, it should include quite a bit of research. It’s about thinking your way through stressful situations, planning for the unexpected, and most importantly, running a business just like you would any other. “It varies because we do buffets, plated dinners, simple appetizers, or [events] where we’ve just dropped off food and they’ve served it themselves—to very high-end menus with unique ingredients,” she explains. In addition, as a business, you will need a business license and a federal tax ID. In some cases, such as a health permit, you most likely will need to look to a local government office. If you’re ready to start your catering business, LegalZoom can help make the process easier. An inspector will visit your facility and issue the required Tennessee restaurant health inspection reports. If you’re unsure of what will be required, get in touch with your local Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Center, or the Small Business Administration to find out more. Typically, this can take some time to obtain, so you should start the process early. Her background includes Six Sigma training, and an Information Development career with journalism and creative writing as her passion. Step 1: Choose your business name and business entity type. When it does come time to buy, equipment financing can provide you with the funding you need to cover the cost of supplies. Additionally, uniforms, including vectorized logos, can be “really cheap or really expensive,” in the words of Burnett. Here is What Licenses Are Needed To Start A Catering Personal Chef business. Look into sourcing all the supplies you need, including linens, utensils, china, even tables and chairs for some events, and of course the food. If you decide to operate as a sole proprietor, your business will be unincorporated and be owned by you alone (or you and your spouse). If you want to have a partner for your business, or want to avoid taking on all personal liability for your company, you can choose to register your business as a general partnership, a limited partnership, a limited liability partnership, a limited liability company, or another business entity. University of Minnesota: Catering Successfully, Bucaro Tech Help: Start a Catering Business from Home, A Touch of Business: How To Start A Catering Business. In most states the Department of Health provides these licenses. Step 7: Market during your events. “It takes a lot more time, but a lot of my proposals get accepted, rather than a package deal where it may or may not fit what someone is looking for. You also need to pass a county or state health inspection—a residential kitchen likely won’t cut it, so consider looking for a commercial kitchen that has already … It can serve as a business tax ID number and help you do other business tasks like applying for a credit card and paying your employees. With accelerated courses, you could earn your bachelor’s in as little as 2.5 years. I think definitely.”, Burnett notes that, for the catering industry, access to capital is especially important: “Most small businesses fail because they don’t have the capital to get them through the ebbs and flows. Permits are issued for two-year terms; fees, which vary based on the gross annual volume of sales, range from $250 to $750. Starting a Catering Business – 10 Legal Documents You Need. For example, your cooking facility will likely need a grease trap permit. If you want to open a catering business in Georgia, then you’ll need to establish your business as a legal entity and obtain necessary licenses and permits. If you aren’t as lucky as Burnett, you will probably need some funding to get your catering business off the ground and through slower months. Burnett made the decision to start her business out of necessity after her husband lost his job in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Corporate catering might involve more focus on LinkedIn advertising, where you can buy leads; you might also pay people to knock on doors and pass out fliers to bigger businesses. Just keep in mind that what works for you when you’re starting a catering business might not be what works once your business starts growing. As with most industries involving food prep, you can’t just, well, do it. Is there a particular type of catering that is needed in your area that is currently underserved? Order | | | SERVICES: HOW IT WORKS: QUIZ: FAQs (888) 995-8568: ORDER! Set up your business structure. You will need to understand business operations such as licensing, regulations, equipment, supplies, health issues, menu planning, payroll and marketing. The catering industry attracts a broad range of entrepreneurs. You’ll want to include an overview of your company, a market analysis, your business’s organization, the specific products and services you’ll be providing, and your marketing and financial plan. Catering Licenses Catering is a food business. So if you’ve got the will for catering, there’s undoubtedly a way. Other permits and licenses may be required by local jurisdictions or state agencies. If you will be serving alcohol at catering events you will need a liquor license. or service provider’s website. “A woman at my church said, ‘Why don’t you reopen your catering business here at the church?’ I didn’t think you could do that, but we called the health department and had them do a site visit at the church kitchen. For a catering business, because you’re handling food, this might also require some other registrations depending on the rules in your state. Step 6: Hire, train, and outfit your catering staff. So if you’ve been wondering how to start a business in catering, you’ve got plenty of options. Burnett says you need to “know what you’re getting into,” due to the physical and demanding nature of the work. Contact your local Alcohol and Beverage Commission for specific requirements for your state. You need to obtain a business license from the state, as well as a food handling license. If you are thinking about starting a business, you may need to obtain a number of licenses and permits from federal, state, and local government. Copyright 2021 Leaf Group Ltd. / Leaf Group Media, All Rights Reserved. Or maybe you’re like Dannella Burnett, of Gainesville, Georgia, who formed her catering business back in 2009, and your reason is simple and sweet: “I figured if I could cook for other people and put food on their plates, I could put food on my family’s plate,” Burnett says of her decision to start Oakwood Occasions. But you might also need to reach out on foodservice-oriented job-seeking sites, or look into how competitors found their staff. What Licenses Are Needed To Start Catering Busines Catering Catering. This either will be a city or county health department, or, in those cases where there is no local authority responsible for issuing the permit, the DSHS itself. Importantly, though, you should also research your competition and identify potential customers. and services are provided without warranty from JustBusiness. When it comes to non-food items, Burnett suggests renting first, before buying things outright. “There are some things that I could look back on that I would say either by sheer doggedness or dumb luck, the next right thing did happen,” she says. As with any new venture, you must come up with a business plan. Then you can apply to the Georgia Department of Public Health for a food services permit that will let you work as a caterer. Step 4: Get all licenses and clearances needed to start a catering business. General requirements vary but always include inspecting the facility for state compliance. Nothing but me, myself, and I,” Burnett explains. In most states the Department of Health provides these licenses. Independence – A business operating in city limits will need to obtain a City Occupation License and possibly zoning clearance before starting the business. Food service professionals take a certification test and upon passing are given an identification card to prove their status. You will need to obtain at least a few licenses or permits in order to start your catering business. When you’re just starting a catering business, that’s where the putting food in someone’s mouth tactic comes in. As a business, you will need to choose to be a sole owner, a partnership or LLC or Corporation. Maybe you’re an excellent cook, maybe you love throwing parties, or maybe you’re interested in event planning and want to get the ball rolling by catering. What other necessary actions/steps do I need to take? Step 9: Plan for emergencies—both financial and others. The location of your business may need a zoning license or permit, and you may need a building permit if you are remodeling. Pricing your work depends greatly on where your business is located and what kind of catering you do. Licenses Needed to Start a Business in Federally Regulated Industries. You will need to have … Food catering as a business can be quite overwhelming, as there are a lot of players in the market. Maybe you started off with china for 200 and now you only have china for 150 because they break,” says Burnett, listing the things that caught her off-guard when starting out. Bakeries are sometimes an exception. To operate any type of food establishment such as a restaurant, taco stand or a catering business, you will need a Food Establishment License. And people understood that food cost more to a certain extent, but people still had in their head that they need to do a lunch for $10 or $15 a person, and when the price of gas and food has gone up, it’s easy for that not to be profitable.”. “But when we moved into our new location, at the Hall County Government Center, we opened up a café, coffee shop, and expanded the catering business at the same time. And they ultimately pay for themselves.”. He has written for a number of outlets including Business Insider, HuffPost, Men’s Journal, BigCommerce, Volusion, Square, RetailNext, Zenefits, and Keap. If your business will be located in an incorporated city, contact the city. Depending on the business entity you chose, your business’s name might by default be your name. But preparing for the unexpected is about more than budgeting. You can use a business plan template or you can make a plan on your own. Once you’re established you can look into getting an SBA loan. Skip Navigation Links. Here's an inside look at the industry as well as the skills needed to run a successful catering business. Decide what type of catering you want to do. You’ll want to choose a name and make sure it’s available in the state where you’re opening your catering business. “Things break, so you have to replace them. “Really, it’s about networking. For a basic catering operation, you’ll need refrigerators to keep supplies fresh, cooking equipment (including an oven, hob, fryer, and maybe a grill) and food preparation equipment. First, you need a business license and you will need it because you are a business. This is aside from your skills as a cook. Then you have to buy the apron. Everyone involved with your catering business may need to have a state food handler’s permit and your cooks should all be ServSafe certified. And in something like the catering business, there should naturally be some ebb and flow, whether it’s the seasonality of the type of catering that you do, or the calendar—seasons and holidays.”. For example, if you live in an area with a lot of golf courses, you may find that they are always in need of caterers for weekend events. State licenses as well as county and/or city permits and licenses are probably going to be a few of the ones needed. To operate any type of food establishment such as a restaurant, taco stand or a catering business, you will need a Food Establishment License. First, you need to think of a business name. Training typically covers issues such as requiring proper identification to serve alcohol and understanding how alcohol consumption impacts the drinker. Brainstorm ideas to find a name that’s catchy and is a reflection of your brand. You need to obtain a business license from the state, as well as a food handling license. Then you will need a catering license which will need to be renewed yearly. Food was costing more. In Tennessee, starting a catering business requires obtaining licenses at the city, state and county levels. Part of your business plan for how to start a catering business should also include the vendors and suppliers you plan to use. It’s not a bad idea to consult a lawyer in your area who specializes in the food or service industry for help filing everything and getting all of the registrations squared away before you start cooking. Eric Goldschein is the partnerships editor at JustBusiness and Fundera. To protect your personal assets from the business, consider setting up a limited liability company. “Repairs to vehicles: Catering can be hard on your vehicles, so you’ll need replacements to tires. Since we were going to have in-house staff as well as catering staff, we had to go through a much more extensive training period.”. But as Burnett knew even in the nascent stages of starting a catering business and expanding to event planning, the business is about much more than putting food on plates. Before you begin catering to clients, you need to register your business with federal, state, and local agencies. You also need to pass a county or state health inspection—a residential kitchen likely won’t cut it, so consider looking for a commercial kitchen that has already been approved. Once you have the type of catering business you want to start in mind, you can move on to choosing a name for your business and defining the entity for it as well. and conditions when evaluating such products and services. Step 4: Get All Licenses and Clearances Needed to Start a Catering Business As with most industries involving food prep, you can’t just, well, do it. Your market research into the needs in your area can go a long way to helping you sustain your business. If you focus on weddings, you’ll want to attend bridal shows—which involve bringing food samples and sometimes buying a booth. Once you know what kind of catering you want to do, you can get on to the next steps. Ensuring staff have the proper training for Food Certification is often mandatory as well. “At the beginning, you can rent anything you might ever want or need,” she says. If you want to change that, you might need a DBA or “doing business as” name. “Was it more stressful because there wasn’t a plan at the beginning or there wasn’t capital? This will take some work, but it will pay off in the long run because you’ll have the plan to fall back on and it can help you know what to expect while running your business. Burnett found herself in business well before she expected to be. Some caterers only do cocktail reception drinks and small finger foods, others do buffet-style catering, and some do the sit-down catering that you might see at a banquet or wedding. “Hey, I want aprons with logos on them—getting that logo vectorized for $75-$80, then $5-$7 a piece depending on how big you want the logo. It was deemed sufficient for commercial use, so I had my church kitchen licensed as a catering commissary, and I launched the business with zero capital, zero plan. The health department might need to check out the place where you’re cooking and preparing the food you’ll be serving, for example. All businesses need a business license as well. Permits will depend on local laws and regulations, and they can range from anything for serving food to the location of your business. Despite making things work, she says luck took the place of capital and wouldn’t recommend that path to other future caterers. Eric Goldschein has a decade of experience in digital media, writing and reporting on entrepreneurship, finance, business lending, marketing, and small business data and trends. FAQ . You should have extra capital when you start out, and continue to budget wisely as you go, because you never know when something will go wrong in the catering industry. ServSafe certification is offered by the state health department. Many businesses create price tiers that provide a certain level of service and amenities for various amounts. Here you’ve got a lot of options depending on a few things, including whether you want to go it alone or not. There was no real formal training from the beginning,” she says. In other cases, such as obtaining a liquor license, you will probably need to work with a state agency such as a liquor control commission. If they don’t need something, if it doesn’t pertain to their event, it’s not going into their pricing. A lot of word of mouth, a lot of referrals,” she says. Catering isn’t an easy business. Additional permits may be required depending on whether you travel to different cities to cater events. would i have to get a different one or can i just start it up now. Next you will need to get all the necessary permits for your catering business. With a little help, you’ll be delighting guests at parties, events, and festivals in no time. If you place a billboard for marketing purposes, you must meet county and state laws for signage and a license may be required. In most states the Department of Health provides these licenses. In most states, you can check business name availability online with the Secretary of State. That can put you in a tight spot. Contact your state occupational licensing or health department to learn what permits you need and any laws you need to abide by. JustBusiness strives to keep information up-to-date but, at times, information may be different on a product All partner products Starting a catering business requires a lot of catering equipment. Here’s another place where having capital at the start comes in handy: If you’re hiring and training staff before they actually work an event, you need to set aside training dollars. In Minnesota, for example, bakeries are regulated by the Department of Agriculture. If you need 20, 30, 40 of those—that adds up,” she says. Doing so will give your catering business a solid foundation from which to grow. Burnett never went down that route. If you want to start your own catering business and want to begin with an Bachelor of Science Degree in Food Service Management, ECPI University’s Culinary Institute of Virginia is here to help. You can apply for one online from the IRS in just minutes and enjoy the benefits of having one for years to come. Make sure you understand the requirements and that you and any staff take the necessary training. An alcohol license is also needed from the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, if the catering business wants to serve wine and beer at catering events. Copyright 2020 JustBusiness.com All rights reserved, How to Start a Catering Business: 9 Steps to Starting a Catering Business. The price of gas, when it went sky-high, it had an impact. “At the first location, we brought on staff members one by one as we needed people. Please review a product or service provider’s terms If you start a cottage food business there are limits to the sales volume you can generate in one calendar year. Additionally, while we are compensated by some marketing partners, these partnerships do not influence our opinions of the products and services available to small businesses. This will give you permission to start a business in your state. open my own business I.e., Start a Catering business in 60090 Wheeling, Illinois. “You can be a great cook, and that doesn’t necessarily make you a great caterer,” she says. In Minnesota, for example, bakeries are regulated by the Department of Agriculture. You may be able to find staff just as easily, either by word-of-mouth or by combing your own network. Quiz. Step 3: Register your catering business and get an EIN. Each offers different protections for the partners and the business. General guidelines to qualify for a license may include a background check and proof of zoning restrictions. It’s unlikely you can cater an event all by yourself, so staff is a requirement. Debbie McRill went from managing a Texas Department of Criminal Justice office to working for Compaq and Hewlett-Packard as a technical writer and project manager in 1997. How do I get an approval for that business? “And renting is great: You know what the cost will be and you don’t have the upfront cost of purchasing something. “But at some point, though you want to buy those things yourself because you still can charge for them and basically you’re paying for the ownership of them. Debbie has also owned her own businesses and understands both corporate and small business challenges. If your business will be located in an unincorporated area, contact the county. To get an idea of what costs what, Burnett says that her price per person has varied from $7-$8, for light appetizers for cocktail hour, up to $80 for filet and lobster. Moore – The City Clerk’s Office issues business licenses for entities offering catering, selling alcohol, operating as a pawn broker, along with a few others There are plenty of routes you can go to acquire small business funding to get your business going. Licenses that cover food handling and other health permits are others that will be applied for before opening your business. Some other requirements you might need to consider include workers’ compensation insurance and permits or licenses to work out of certain venues—the monthly or annual costs of which can cut into profit margins. If that sounds like a lot, don’t worry—you can always add to your plan as you learn more about the catering business world. You’ll also want to apply for an employer identification number also called an EIN. With extremely limited exceptions, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) requires all “food establishments” — which includes caterers — to obtain a permit from the appropriate health authority. You will need to understand business operations such as licensing, regulations, equipment, supplies, health If they need more, they pay for more; if they need less, they pay for less.”. Once that is complete, you need to begin the licensing process as several licenses and permits are required before opening for business. Since licensing and permit requirements for small businesses can vary among jurisdictions, it is critical that you contact your state and local government to determine the specific obligations of your new business. Thinking of starting a catering business from home (NY) - what licenses/permissions/permits do I need to start that? If you want to go the traditional route, you can go for a traditional term loan, a business line of credit, or maybe a business credit card. Bakeries are sometimes an exception. In this guide, we are going to take you step-by-step through everything you need to know about how to start a catering business. When you are planning to start your catering business, you have to be aware that there are legal considerations that you would have to meet up with for your business to be considered legal; so that you can operate freely without fear or harassment. What Certificates, Licenses Do i Need To Start and Run a Catering Trailer/snack Bar Business Hi, i am going to start my own catering trailer/snack bar, just need to find out what certificates licenses do i need to start and run catering trailer/snack … Keep in mind that the liquor licensing process can be complicated and may require outside legal assistance. There are stringent requirements for how your facility handles food. If you’re starting a business in a federally regulated industry—firearms, commercial fishing, aviation, etc.—then you’ll need to consult a specific list of business licenses to operate legally in your industry. Talk with your county's business planner to ensure you aren't missing an important license or permit. Step 8: Get funding (if you need it). 1. Business incorporation documents-: Although it is possible to run your business as a sole proprietorship or as a partnership, incorporating your catering business would help to protect you in the event of litigations or law suits. She had previously worked in food and retail management, and she fell back on that experience when it came time to find a new source of income. To operate any type of food establishment such as a restaurant, taco stand or a catering business, you will need a Food Establishment License. You’ll want to register your business and its name with the state you plan to operate in. Knowing how to acquire capital is one of the keys to figuring out how to start a catering business. When it comes to marketing and advertising your business, Burnett has one suggestion that trumps all the rest. Most events are catered at a venue that can be 30 minutes, an hour, or even a few hours away from the kitchen. Step 2: Write a catering business plan. The kind of kitchen equipment you need will depend on what type of food you need to prepare and cook. Then, obtain a seller's permit because prepared food bought or sold is subject to sales tax. Form a corporation or LLC, obtain the business licenses and permits you need, or download a customizable catering services agreement you can begin using right away. Or health Department an inspector will visit your facility and issue the required restaurant... A different one or can i just start it up now cities to cater events more if! An important license or permit, or look into getting an SBA loan to tires estimated... Needs in your area that is needed in your area that is in... Part of your brand cases, such as a business, consider setting up a limited liability company county state! Up, ” she says otherwise, it had an impact look the. 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Internet business or by combing your own network buy, equipment financing can provide you with state. An EIN marketing purposes, you can rent anything you might also need to obtain a business in your that. Warranty from JustBusiness word-of-mouth or by combing your own network background includes Six training! A different one or can i just start it up now to get your with! Prepare and cook I.e., start a business plan choose your business it does come time buy... Personal assets from the beginning or there wasn ’ t recommend that path to other what licenses are needed to start a catering business! The location of your business will be located in an unincorporated area, the... Are given an identification card to prove their status each offers different for! 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