A business plan for catering business helps you navigate your way through all the stages of building your company. Business plans help entrepreneurs stay on target while cutting stress because there's so much to think about when creating a startup business. These documents are often used for financial purposes, such as trying to get a loan or approaching potential investors.

Important Sections to Include

Every business plan should contain four or five key parts. This makes sure the document includes important facts about:

  • Your vision and goals for the business
  • Expected start-up costs
  • Licensing you need to get started
  • Your planned marketing tactics

Expect your business plan to evolve and grow alongside your company. The most effective business plans are living documents that change with your business.

Why Catering?

The catering industry is thriving, and entrepreneurs can easily scale this type of business to fit their skills and financial situation. In just the US, catering is a 12 billion dollar industry that sees growth every year. Even during a struggling economy, the demand for catering increased 1.8 percent each year, giving it the reputation of being an almost recession-proof business to start. This is because people still have the life events that create a need for catered services even when the economy is at its worst.

Client Budgets

Another reason catering is seeing so much growth is the budgets associated with catered events. For example, as far back as 2012, the average cost of catered food at a US wedding reception was 3,579 dollars. On top of that, the market segment carrying the popularity of the catering trend is households with annual earnings of six figures or more.

No Corporate Domination

Entrepreneurs also find catering appealing for another reason. This highly fragmented sector of the food industry isn't dominated by an specific corporate entity. That lack of a big company hovering and waiting to grab all segments of the market means anyone who has the skill and drive to build a catering business can do it. Larger caterers have the ability to accommodate events of any size, and even cover more than one event at once, while smaller caterers are able to emphasize the personal touch they offer.

Food and Equipment Costs

Food and equipment are the main costs for small caterers, and they are fairly easy costs to control. Due to having a head count before starting to prepare food, a caterer only has to buy the amount of food needed. This cuts waste and costs at the same time. Equipment can be rented as needed for each job, and that cost should be calculated into the quote for catering services, so it's an expense the caterer doesn't have to carry. This cuts overhead in comparison to the costs of starting a traditional restaurant.

Steps to Starting a Catering Business

Get hands-on experience in the field by working for another local caterer. Test your skill as an event planner by volunteering. Try working as a personal chef for a while. After you've explored the field and understand the market, select the niche you want to move into as a caterer. List the things that make your offering unique in your business plan. Do some research on the market in your area to see how many caterers offer similar types of cuisine. If you find that niche is already being done by several others, you can adjust your offerings.

Some Key Parts to Include in a Business Plan

The executive summary, while written last, is the first part of a business plan. It describes the business and introduces it. The company analysis provides details about your business, such as the legal structure, milestones, and its current state. The industry analysis explains the size of the market and where your catering business fits in it. The customer analysis in your business plan examines your target market and tells investors who you plan to serve in that market.

There are two main reasons to have a business plan for your catering business. A business plan is like a map. It shows you where your business is now, and the goals for the next few years so you can plan out a strategy to get there. It helps you see opportunities and things that can throw your business off track.

If you need help with a business plan for a catering business, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.