If you enjoy food and cooking, a career as a food caterer can be very satisfying and financially rewarding. The hospitality industry, including food catering services is one of the fastest growing industries in America. The United States Department of Labor is predicting a 10 to 12% increase in food and beverage careers through 2012.
A good cook with a bit of business sense only needs a business license and a facility to prepare food that has been approved by the health care department. You should contact your local city government for information about obtaining the required business license and the state government listing of the health department for information to get your facility inspected and approved for a catering business.
The licensing is the easy part. You have to decide what type of food catering service you are going to be committed to starting. Do you want to become a full-time caterer who works long hours every day; or is this going to be a part-time occupation, perhaps catering weekend or special events such as wedding receptions.
If you are looking for a full-time gig, caterers are in high demand for many events such as weddings, bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, company functions, or even providing area businesses with a daily lunch catering service to their business. Your start-up costs and expenses will depend greatly upon whether your job as a caterer will be full-time or part-time. A start-up cost for a home catering business could be anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000. If you first begin your operations small, on a part-time basis, you could gradually save up enough money to begin working as a caterer full-time.
Being a caterer takes great attention to detail and excellent organizational skills. People want their special occasions to go off without a hitch and the food display is often the center of attention. It is not only important for the food to taste good, but the presentation must also be attractive. Excellent mathematical skills are necessary to calculate the necessary portions for the number being served and how many and what type of ingredients to buy for the meal.
The best publicity for a caterer is a satisfied customer. Word of your services will spread quickly and you soon may have more business than you were prepared to handle. In such as case, you may have to consider hiring an employee, at least part-time. In family run catering businesses, family members often do all the work themselves and share the profits.
As with any business, being self-employed means paying taxes on your income. If your business earns more than $400 per year, you are required to file a federal income tax return. You must report your earnings on Schedule SE in addition to the other required tax forms.
Entrepreneur: Catering – Starting a Catering Business
Florida State College: Food and Beverage Management: Catering
Social Security Online: If you are Self-Employed