Start A Home Catering Business With No Previous Experience

bakes cakes, muffins or pies to earn extra cash

You don’t need to be a Masterchef champion to start a home catering business and it can be a profitable part-time business. The next time you visit a smart cafe, think about where the cakes, scones and muffins come from. It may surprise you to find that many cafes buy-in cakes and other baked goods from talented locals. The same is true of some office buidings. You can even think about catering for events rather than supplying a specific businesse. The truth is many people start a catering business by falling into an opportunity.

Think in terms of a small, simple business

Here’s a real example from a friend of ours who lives in Edinburgh. Annie is officially retired. She was a teacher all her life, but her first love is and always has been baking. Artisan baking to be precise. When people think of a catering business they may automatically think of large buffet lunches. Or even a mobile snacks van! There are many roads to Rome. However on the premise that keeping it small is ideal for a part-timer, Annie now cooks beautiful cakes and muffins for smart cafe’s near her Edinburgh home. This business is a small one. Annie thinks of it as pocket money. But that’s her choice. She could be baking 7 days a week but simply chooses not to. Annie’s a creative cook, but loves baking. Annie found her niche by accident. It seems the person who was providing muffins and cakes before her had moved away. As a result the cafe owner was casting around for a replacement. The rest is history. Annie didn’t set out to start a business. An opportunity found her. But if you want to start a food based business you can’t sit around waiting for something to happen. Annie got lucky inspite for herself you might say. A business usually needs you to find it.

Consider the options for a part-time home catering business

Starting a catering business of some description is a realistic option, on a part-time basis if you don’t need premises. 9+6.Having premises sky rockets the costs and commitment. However there is still necessary red tap to overcome. You don’t have to stick with baking for cafes. There are other business options too that still allow you to avoid large scale events. You can think of catering for childrens’ birthday parties, serviced offices and meeting rooms, or even a posh dinner or two for upmarket professionals. Whether your passion is baking or curries or the best of British, you should do your homework on whether there are gaps in your local market or strong demand for some forms of catering that’ll withstand another small business. Start off by trying to get a catering gig through friends or family. Getting some credentials behind you that you can use as testimonials will start your catering business off on the right footing.Annie had no previous business experience. Proof you can start a small catering business if you can cook or bake to a good standard.

Regulation is still important

Don’t start your business without looking at the regulations first. Some people think that because you don’t need premises you don’t need to be regulated. You do. In fact regulations for home based businesses is a rather fraught area and you need to check out the requirements before you start. The main regulations you need to be aware of are are the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 (or the Scottish equivalent) and Regulation (EC) No 852/2004. You must also register your business with the local council at least 28 days before you open. It’s as wise to develop a business-like home catering checklist to make sure you have all your ducks in a row. Start off by working closely with your local council.

What’s in demand?

Of course you need to do your research. Visit local cafes and check out what they are offering. When it comes to approaching a business’s owners or manager you can let your food do the talking. Essentially your tasting sessions will be part of your market research. Some cafe’s of course have a deli counter which may mean a larger order but do be realistic about what you can manage if keeping it part-time is important. Also consider the limitations of your kitchen at home.

If you are looking for extra income without the commitment of a full time business then catering for local cafe’s provides an easy way in. But competition can be stiff depending on where you live. Once you have orders you’ll probably find that they won’t vary. Great if you’re only baking or cooking a couple of days a week. Start your home based catering business with a firm aim in mind. There are obviously many different kinds of catering opportunities but once you have to go out and win contracts, the business will take over your life.  If baking isn’t your thing use your network of friends to spot openings. The secret is to keeping things small scale so you don’t have to start in a commercial kitchen.


Food Standards Agency
Heath and Safety Executive.