Starting a catering business from home is an excellent idea if you love cooking or you have an entrepreneurial spirit. With minimal costs or overheads, it’s easy to get started and provides a great way to generate an income from your passion.

Here are the steps you’ll need to take if you want to launch your new venture, find your niche, stick to the rules and achieve success.

Put together your business plan

Before you jump straight into action mode, get strategic and think hard about the business that you intend to create. By doing so, you’re more likely to achieve success and create a loyal following of customers. Here’s what you need to consider:

Consider your target market

First, do your research and consider who could be the best fit for your service. Perhaps you’d love to cater for events such as children’s birthday parties, weddings, or other family gatherings in a B2C (business to customer) model. Alternatively, you could target business meetings, conferences and other similar events in a B2B model (business to business). Bear in mind that each requires a different style of catering, order frequency and average order size.

Define your niche

To stand out in a crowded market, you’ll also want to consider your niche. You could focus on providing a certain type of cuisine such as Indian or Mexican, a certain dietary niche such as gluten-free or vegan or offering a unique twist of food favourites. Doing effective market research is key here- this will help you understand whether there is a demand for your services and tailor your marketing strategy accordingly.

Create your business plan


If you want to stay focused, meet your goals and objectives and become successful, you’ll need to create a business plan. More than just a fill-in-the-blanks exercise, it can help raise your awareness of the elements of your business that you need to consider and define your action plan. You’ll also need it if you want to apply for funding or financial support in the future. The UK government has an excellent guide to writing business plans online including a free downloadable template if you need extra guidance.

Set up your business (and stick to the rules)

Once you’ve defined your target market and niche and written your business plan, it’s time to officially set up your business. You’ll need to decide whether you want to operate as a sole trader or a limited company (if you want to employ others) then register with the HMRC for tax purposes.

As a caterer, you’ll also need to apply for a food business registration licence at least 28 days before you start selling. If you are caught operating your catering business without one, you could face fines or even imprisonment, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time.


Next, brush up on your General Food Law knowledge and arrange an inspection from your local environmental health officers. This will ensure that you’re sticking to food safety laws and are working in a safe and clean environment.

Get insured

Insurance is a legal obligation for your business and will protect you from theft, loss or damage. Although this is likely the least enjoyable part of setting up a business, it ensures that you’re covered if someone is injured or becomes seriously ill because of your business.

If you have staff, you’ll also need employers’ liability insurance. Find out what you need by contacting the Nationwide Caterers Association or visiting the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) website.

Invest in the right equipment

Depending on the size of your business and what you already have at home, you’ll likely want to invest in more equipment, especially as your business grows.

It’s always a good idea to start by updating your food prep equipment. Replace any knives and consider whether extra equipment such as slicers, dicing machines or food processors could help simplify your kitchen prep.

Don’t forget the packaging and storage equipment if you want to protect your food for future consumption. Tray sealers and vacuum packers can be a savvy investment as your business grows.

To stick to health and safety laws, you should also have the right firefighting equipment to hand such as a fire blanket, dry powder extinguisher or water extinguisher. Check your local rules and regulations to find out more about your requirements.

Keep detailed records

To minimise risk and protect yourself from potential problems, you should keep accurate records of everything you do.

This includes all your food and ingredient suppliers including their name, address, date and contents of the delivery. Keep hold of all your receipts and store them in a safe place in case any issues should arise.

The same goes for your financial records- keep note of everything you spend and earn so that you can ensure you stick to the rules and can calculate tax more easily when the time comes.


By starting a catering business, you’ll make an income from your passion and share your love of food with the world. But before you fire up that oven, make sure you gather your ideas together, form a solid business plan, get the right equipment, and make sure you tick all the boxes. You’ll be more likely to succeed and grow your brand to reach its full potential. The sky's the limit!