If you have a passion for cooking and everyone around you raves about your culinary creations, then consider starting a catering business in Utah. While the process to get started requires you to register your business with the state and start-up costs from $1,000 to $80,000 (depending on the location and supplies you choose to use), the industry is always flourishing. Events from weddings and graduation receptions to fundraisers and corporate banquets will often require the services of a caterer to make the event a success.
Determine the type of entity your catering business will be, such as a partnership, corporation or LLC. You will also need to determine the name your business will have. Be sure the name is easy to remember and conveys the services you provide.
Visit the IRS website and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your business, even if you don’t currently plan to have employees. An EIN is useful when opening a business checking account, filing registration forms and for tax purposes. See the Resources section below.
Register your business through the OneStop Online Business Registration service (see Resources). You can also register your business by going to the Utah Department of Commerce:
160 E. 300 S. First Floor Salt Lake City, UT
Be sure to have the appropriate filing fee, which was $22 in 2010.
File a State Tax Registration if you provide products or services that are subject to state sales tax. Visit the Utah State Tax Commission website for online access to the forms you need (see Resources).
Look for financial assistance if necessary. Consider lenders, investors and small business grants. Most companies and individuals that provide financing will require a business plan from you (see Resources for assistance). Visit the Small Business Administration website to explore available options.
Obtain the equipment and other supplies you will need to run your catering business in Utah. First and foremost, you will need a kitchen to work in, whether it’s in your home or at a commercial location. You will also need dining supplies (such as linens, dishes and silverware), cooking utensils and a vehicle to transport your food. For contact with clients and organizational purposes, you’ll also need a business phone line, computer, internet access and a printer.
Contact food suppliers to work out deals for your business. You may be able to establish an account with the supplier or a tab that you pay each month. Suppliers might also give you a discount for bulk purchases of a product.
Establish your catering menu and price list. Your menu should consist of all of the foods you are willing to make, how customers can combine those selections into package deals and the prices for each item and package.
Determine what types of events you will provide catering services for, such as buffets, formal dinners, cocktail parties or all of these options. You should also decide whether you want to exclusively provide for corporations, consumers or offer services to both markets.
Advertise your business in the phone book or local publications. Talk to venues in the area and ask them to recommend you to customers that book the venue location. Promote your business in any way possible, including fliers, placing business cards in public locations and offering discounts when customers refer you.