Good day to you all. I am so glad that you have decided to join me in this venture. To my mind, the word ‘venture’ is a shortened version of ‘adventure’, because that is what catering is all about. It is a rough and tumble adventure. Before I proceed with my introductory advice on how to start a catering business today, may I just give all you young and budding entrepreneurs a gentle warning?
If you have chosen to go into catering then you are brave soldiers indeed, because the catering business today is one of the most challenging and competitive entrepreneurial ventures for any startup adventurer to go into today. I will not say a further word on this, because I am now going to assume that like me and the rest of my family, you have an undying passion and love for cooking. You love to treat guests at the dinner table and you love to make all the creative preparations beforehand.
So, here is how I am going to gently nudge you towards starting your own catering business.
First the passion, then the preparations, and only then, the practice
I already indicated that much. It does not help cooking matters if you are going to be approaching this entrepreneurial mission as just another job to help you pay the bills. Treat this as an enriching hobby which just happens to be making you pots of money. But like any good cooking enterprise in the kitchen, there must be a list of extensive preparations. And only when all the preparations are simmering nicely in the pot on a low heat will you be ready to start delivering your first trays to your first client.
Become a consummate list man
To speak of lists and clients. Listen to this for a little inspiration and forceful motivation. Back in the day I was rather a disorganized chef. Chaos reigned in my kitchen and I was hardly the entrepreneur that many of you will be up against today. Nevertheless, I learned from my own mistakes, and here we are today.
Once upon a time I had a rather meticulous client. We nick-named him the list man because of all his famous lists. We were rather amused with him in the beginning. We were never intimidated by some of the demands he placed on our shoulders because, after all, he was a fair man too and always paid us handsomely as per our quotations. He ended up helping us a lot.
Through our own unique procedural quotation system, we were able to substantiate every item on our list and justify the final expense to the client.
Do you have your niche?
Never mind what you love to cook, is there a demand for your passion? It hardly helps matters if you are a traditional Neapolitan when you are surrounded by devout Muslims who have, over the years, migrated from the Indian sub-continent to join you in your urban village. To use this fine cultural example as an ends to the means of establishing your niche, pose yourself a challenge. Be aware and respectful of cultural values and be prepared to prepare new dishes that were previously unfamiliar to you. You will be needing extra hands in the kitchen, so do employ an experienced cook who just happens to have extensive knowledge of the given niche.
The all-important business plan
Forget the food for now, you must have a detailed business plan to start off with. Many of you are forgiven for being overwhelmed at this point in time. Do not be. It is still early days. In time, you will learn. Speaking of learning, do your catering business a huge favor and enroll yourself in a business and bookkeeping course. Get the basic fundamentals in place first and then, the course will teach you this, you will be able to effortlessly blend in your customized and inspirational ingredients to venture off as a catering competitor with something new to present to the community at large.
And off you go. But not quite. Do not get too far ahead of yourself. Keep your catering business small for starters. Be patient, accumulate a few regular clients and watch your reputation steam to perfection and your business grow like the fresh organic vegetables in your garden. First put yourself through manageable tasks and then go full steam ahead. Also take time out to learn from seasoned others.
I have had such a delightful time talking to you all. Hope my inspirational tip-offs were of use to you. But I must go now; I have a rather delicious Burmese chicken curry to prepare for my next lot of guests. Bon appetite!