How to Start a Catering Business from Home?

April 24, 2024
13 Minutes
Modified on:
April 23, 2024
Written by:
Swati Bucha
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Starting a home-based catering business can be an exciting way to get started in the food service sector, and it costs less money than opening a restaurant! This is because it doesn't require a storefront or any "customer-facing" area.

Starting a catering business from home has several benefits, such as reduced overhead expenses, flexible scheduling, and the ability to manage the quality of the food and service. It also enables you to engage your passions for cooking and hosting while personally catering to customers and developing a loyal customer base. 

If you want a few helpful tips on how to start a catering business from home and delight customers with your delicious meals, you can follow this comprehensive guide!

What Type of Food Catering Business is Right When Starting From Home?

Different types of catering businesses exist, like retail stores, airlines, restaurants, and others. However, since we are talking about starting a catering business from home, we are dealing with an off-premise catering business. 

The off-premise catering business is a type of catering in which the location of serving food is away from the caterer’s food production facilities. There are usually three types of off-premise catering: 

  1. Party Food Caterers: This type of catering business supplies food for an event. The caterers will drop off cold food at the venue, and others will handle all the last-minute services. 
  2. Hot Buffet Caterers: Unlike party food caterers who drop off cold food, hot buffet caterers deliver hot food in special insulated containers. In this business, you can even charge additional costs if you are required to serve the guests. 
  3. Full-Service Caterers: Full-service catering businesses do everything, from preparing and serving food at the venue to other important things, such as providing food service personnel, food preparation equipment, venue decoration, and music arrangement. 

Step-by-Step Guide to Start a Catering Business

Let's get started on how to start a catering business from home in easy steps:

Step 1. Select the Business Entity Type and Business Name. 

Once you've decided what type of catering business to start, you can choose a name and establish the business entity. Choose a name and ensure it is available in the state where you plan to open your catering business. You can check the availability of a business name online with the Secretary of State in most states.

You must also decide which business entity you want your company to operate under. Depending on several factors, such as whether you want to go it alone or not, you have several options here.

  • Sole Proprietorship: A sole proprietorship is a business entity in which the owner is in charge of every aspect of the business and liable for its debts and obligations. 
  • General Partnership: A general partnership is a business entity where two or more owners share the business's duties and obligations. It is also advisable to have a written partnership agreement to clarify each partner's responsibilities and expectations. 
  • Limited Partnership: A limited partnership is a business structure in which one or more general partners oversee the business and are personally liable for its debts. 
  • Limited Liability Company: An LLC is a business entity in which the owners' liability for the company's debts and liabilities is limited. An LLC is a good option for businesses seeking the simplicity and flexibility of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the liability protection of a corporation.

Step 2. Write a Business Plan.

Writing a business plan is the next task on the "How to start a catering business from home" checklist after deciding the business name and entity. It will require some work, but in the long run, it will be worthwhile because you'll have a plan to fall back on, and it will help you know what to expect when managing the catering business.

Either create a plan from scratch or use a template for a business plan. When you do create the plan, it must involve plenty of research. An overview of your business, a market analysis, a structure for your business, a list of the delicious foods and ingredients you plan to offer your target customers, and a marketing and financial plan should all be included. 

However, you must also look into the competition and find potential customers. Consider whether a specific type of catering in your area is currently underserved. When starting a catering business, the suppliers and vendors you want to use should be included in your business plan. Consider sourcing all the necessary items, such as dishes, china, linens, utensils, chairs, and food for your events.

Step 3. Register your Catering Business And Get an Employer Identification Number. 

Depending on the business entity you choose, your company's name may be identical to your name. If you want to change that, you may require a DBA or "doing business as" name. Registering your business and its name with the state where you want to conduct business is an excellent plan.

Depending on the regulations in your state, handling food in a catering business might require additional registrations. For example, the health department may need to inspect the location where you're preparing and cooking the food you'll be serving.

You also need to apply for an employer identification number or EIN. You may apply for one online from the IRS in a few moments and reap the benefits of having one for years. It can be used as a business tax ID number and for other business purposes, such as credit card applications and employee payroll.

Step 4. Obtain All the Licenses and Authorization.

As with most businesses involving food preparation, you must obtain both a business license from the state and a food handling license. You must also pass a county or state health inspection—a residential kitchen isn't going to work, so look for an approved commercial kitchen.

You may also need to consider permits or licenses to operate out of specific locations, workers' compensation insurance, and other requirements. These things' monthly or yearly costs can significantly reduce your profit margins.

Find out what credentials the state or local government needs for food safety, such as an eTIPS certification or a food handler permit. In addition, you must create and carry out a food safety plan that meets legal standards and adheres to industrial best practices. Employees should be trained in food safety procedures and always stick to the plan.

Conducting in-depth research and complying with all regulatory standards is essential to preventing business penalties, legal action, or reputational harm.

Step 5. Determine Your Costs. 

To determine the pricing structure, consider the minimum amount required to cover costs and make a profit while staying competitive. A catering business's price plan should consider labor, supplies, and ingredients.

There are several expenses associated with starting a catering business from home. Some of the potential costs may involve the following:

  • Getting the required authorizations and licenses
  • Buying supplies and equipment for the kitchen
  • Developing an online presence
  • Promotion and advertising
  • Insurance 
  • Staffing 
  • Transportation 

Additionally, a per-person or per-item rate ranging from $20 to $200 per guest may be the basis of the pricing structure. To ensure your prices are competitive, conduct thorough research on your local competition and average pricing.

Step 6. Open a Business Bank Account.

Opening a business account facilitates accounting, helps to separate personal and business finances, and establishes credit for the company. 

To accomplish this, you must choose a bank or credit union, submit additional proof (such as your tax ID number), and complete the required forms. 

Maintaining a professional image is further enhanced by having a separate business account, which facilitates tax preparation and spending tracking.

Step 7. Get Business Insurance

Many liabilities may be engaged when handling food and beverages if not carried out properly. This is where business insurance comes in, where you do not have to pay from your pocket to settle the damages. Property damage, liability claims, and other hazards are covered by business insurance. 

In the event of a lawsuit or other legal action, it may additionally protect your assets. It is best to speak with a legal expert regarding the types of insurance you require to maintain your legal compliance. 

Business insurance may protect your company from financial damage and give you peace of mind.

Step 8. Hire, Train, and Outfit Your Staff

Hiring and developing skilled employees is essential to grow your catering business with motivated workers. 

Here is how you can do so:

  • Establish job descriptions and decide which roles and responsibilities are necessary for the company.
  • Recruit and screen potential candidates using job postings, referrals, or staffing agencies.
  • Interview potential candidates and choose the top applicants for each position.
  • Create a training program to guarantee that staff members are aware of and proficient in their responsibilities.
  • Provide continuous training and support to keep employees satisfied and ensure high-quality service.
  • Encourage teamwork and collaboration while creating a positive workplace.

Hiring capable and motivated employees will be essential to your business's success. It is also important to create a positive work atmosphere so your clients can take advantage of a professional, respectful, and content staff. 

Step 9. Choose Your Delivery System.

The speed and effectiveness of your delivery system, from the kitchen to the customer, will significantly impact the level of your service. When serving fresh food, you want to deliver it as quickly as possible without losing the dish's visual appeal. Here are the primary delivery options available in the market:

  • Self-delivery: The company delivers the food using its vehicles or employees.
  • Delivery by a third party: The company collaborates with a service provider like Grubhub, DoorDash, or Uber Eats. 
  • Pickup: The customer collects the food directly from the business location.

To preserve your reputation as a catering service, your delivery method must be reliable and well-mannered. 

Step 10. Market Your Business

Marketing is important for the success of any business, and the catering industry is no exception. Here are some effective marketing strategies for catering businesses:

  • Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly and optimized.
  • Employ PPC or SEO marketing to attract more clients and improve your online presence.
  • Establish social media profiles and share interesting content regularly, such as pictures of food, menu changes, and feedback from customers.
  • Give potential customers free samples or tastings, then get their feedback.
  • Engage food bloggers or influencers to help your business grow on social media.
  • Participate in trade shows, food festivals, or exhibits to promote your company and make connections with possible clients and partners.
  • Offer first-time clients and referrals discounts or promotions.
  • Collaborate with local businesses or charities to support events or provide food.

Marketing is a continuous process that requires ongoing work and creativity. By combining a few of these strategies, a catering business can boost its visibility and draw in new clients. 


The catering business represents one of the most familiar businesses around the globe. It is a low-investment, profitable business that must comply with business strategies. Starting a catering company might be challenging for people who have no previous experience in the industry or who have no knowledge of marketing or management; however, as long as one pays attention to a few key factors that guarantee the company's successful growth, the business success is a sure shot. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much does it cost to start a home-based catering business? 

The service area and a few other important elements determine the opening cost of a catering business. Such as,

  • Location
  • Component for catering
  • Individuals do you want to serve
  • Food suppliers
  • Food preparation

These must be considered when determining the initial cost of a catering service.

2. Is a license required to open a catering business?

Yes, you need licenses to open a catering business. To conduct business, a license is a necessary and valid document. To start a catering business, you’ll require business and food service licenses. You can operate the business in any location with a business license. You need to get certified by a government agency to start any business. 

3. Will the catering business make a profit?

The profit margin for the catering company is significant. You have a higher chance of making more money with a more effective plan and better ideas. Generally, a successful business's profit ranges from 7% to 10%.

4. What equipment is required to start a catering business from home?

Various kinds of equipment are required in the food-making kitchen; here are a few of them:

  • Stove
  • Cooking oven
  • Beverage Station
  • Food storage container
  • Refrigerator for frozen food

5. Does the catering business require a vehicle?

Probably yes! You should have a vehicle for fast service if you want to grow your catering business. However, if you believe that your employees can handle food catering, then that might be the most effective course of action for you.

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