You love cooking and would like to start a catering business. Entering the catering sector can be lucrative and rewarding too. In the UK alone catering is worth £1 billion. Having a dream is great, but how exactly do you start? In this guide we will provided with the necessary information to get you started. 

Getting Started 

Catering from home on a casual basis with sauce pots and takeaway containers in your kitchen may be good for part time income, but to start a full-time business requires planning. It is not daunting as you may think. All you need is to have the following: 

• A well thought-out business plan 
• The required licences and business registration 
• The required equipment and supplies 

The Business Plan 

Developing a business plan is vital for your catering business to succeed. You should know your target market. Do you want to cater for private functions like weddings, business functions, and parties, or corporate functions like events, awards ceremonies and large meetings? Who are your competitors and how will your service be different? Restaurants and cafes in your target area may also double as caterers. You need an outline of your start-up costs including supplies, utilities, equipment, rentals, transport, staff payroll, and insurance. When you have gathered all the facts, your next step is to get licenced and registered. 

Registering your Catering Company 

You have to register your business and get licensed to sell food if you are to operate a catering company. The process is relatively straightforward and quick. Here is the process in brief: 

• Apply for food business registration through the government website. This has to be done at least 28 days before you plan on selling food to the public. 

• Decide if you are sole prop or if you will have employees. You can then visit the relevant government site for more information. 

• Safety is extremely important. Find more information on the relevant government website. 

While you are doing legal stuff, you should also contact the local environmental health officers and ask them to carry out an inspection of your kitchen. They will advise you on shortcomings and corrective measures you can take. 

Investing in the Right Equipment for your Catering Business 

A catering business needs a lot of catering equipment. The type of equipment depends on the type of food you will serve. The basic equipment you will need include ovens, fridges, hobs, and even grills. These items can be costly and should have been costed in your business plan. Different events may also require different equipment. The key is to carefully decide what equipment that you cannot do without. 

Packaging containers and utensils are also important. Even the barest bones catering outfit should have takeaway containers, platters, spoons, knives chopping boards, sauce dispensers, scissors, can openers, colanders, peelers, graters, mixing bowls, and thermometers. Click here for a wide range of food containers. 

The items mentioned are by no means complete and you may need equipment and utensils specific to a job. For more specialised advice contact the Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS)

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