The catering business is a lucrative industry with high potential for growth and expansion. Los Angeles is one of the most diverse and populated cities in America, making it a great place to start a catering business. The great thing about a catering business is you can start as small or large as you like. You may desire to start catering to one or two people a week, or large dinner parties. If you’re starting small and have decided to open a home-based catering business, knowing all the requirements will help you open your business successfully.
Develop a business plan. Carefully examine all of your options, including your specialty, target market, financing opportunities and marketing strategies. Once you have these important details in writing, you can determine the best way to meet your objectives.
Register your business with the Los Angeles County Registrar. You are required to register your business within 40 days of its opening in the county in which your business is operated. Your business certificate last 5 years.
Apply for a business tax license in Los Angeles. Every business in Los Angeles must have this license. You are required to pay your business taxes to the Los Angeles Office of Finance.
Apply for a food establishment license with the Los Angeles Public Health Department. All catering companies and restaurants must have a food establishment license to operate. The health department will inspect your kitchen to ensure that you meet health requirements.
Find a specialty. Selecting a specialty is one way to establish your brand and reputation. After you select your specialty, create a menu of the foods that you will cater. Determine if you want to cater foods specific to the Los Angeles region or more general foods.
Price your foods. Many entrepreneurs starting a catering business do not charge enough because they are afraid to lose customers. This can become a bad habit for a new business owner and detrimental to the business. Research competitor prices in Los Angeles and price your services similarly.
Buy or rent kitchen equipment. You probably have some kitchen equipment at home that you can use for your catering business, but may need to buy more. If you are on a tight budget, consider renting equipment until you have more money to invest in your business.
Design a marketing strategy. Networking and word of mouth are two of the most common and effective marketing strategies. You can attend networking events in Los Angeles and offer discounts to customers who refer others.
Finance you catering business. Most people finance their home-based catering businesses through their savings or borrowing money from friends and family. Banks are usually not willing to lend money to home-based catering businesses because they're considered risky.
Hire additional staff. If you plan on catering large events, you will need to hire staff to help with cooking, serving and cleaning. You may want to consider hiring contractors or temporary workers until your business is profitable.
You can call the Los Angeles Office of Finance to get further information about all legal requirements needed to open your catering business.
You may face fees and penalties if you do not pay your business taxes in a timely manner.