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How to start a catering business from home with no money | 7 simple steps

Table of Contents

How to start a catering business from home with no money in 7 easy steps

how to start a catering business from your home with no money

Starting a catering business from home can be a great decision. It can allow you to make some extra money or even replace your full time job if you want to grow it that big. 

It doesn’t even have to be expensive to start your catering business from home. With these tips I will show you how to start a catering business from home with no money and how to start making money right away. 

starting your catering business with no money.

Some people are going to say its impossible to start a catering business with no money but they are wrong. I am going to show you how you can start a catering business without spending any of your money up front and how to finance it all with your first clients money. 

table of contents for starting a catering business from home

  1. Research your specific local and state regulations to run catering business from your home
  2. Decide on a business name
  3. Decide on your business plan
  4. Start marketing your business
  5. Get your first customer
  6. Get business insurance
  7. Hire and train your staff
catering business ideas

1. Catering Home-Based Business laws

Before you file any paperwork or spend a dollar to establish your business entity, you need to know what is possible (and legal) in your area. Does your city/county/state even allow for catering out of your home? And if so, does your kitchen meet the health department guidelines? These rules will vary from state to state and city to city. You want to find out what do they require, there may be rules for what equipment needs to be in your kitchen, extra ventilation, stainless steel fixtures, etc. 

Your local health department can be a good resource on what is needed to comply with any local regulations.

If you are planning on serving liquor you will need liquor license as well for each county your are planning on selling liquor in. 

2. Come up with name for your catering business

While this is doesn’t seem very important, it can be one of the most important things you can do to get started with no money. You need a name so you can start advertising right away for your first customer

Naming a business is both an art and a science. While there are many factors to consider, the most important thing is to choose a name that accurately reflects the mission and values of your company. 

How to pick a business name – 

For example, if you are starting a food business that specializes in local food, you might want to choose a name that evokes the feeling of freshness and wholesomeness. 

Ultimately, the goal is to choose a name that will attract attention and give potential customers a positive impression of your business.

You want to make sure that the name you use and start marketing is not taken and you can find a domain name that will work for a website. The domain name should end with .com if possible because that ending has the highest trust factors with local businesses. 

With careful consideration, you can find a name that perfectly encapsulates the essence of your company.

If you are still struggling with a business name to start a catering business you can always use a business name generator like Shopify’s free tool

Business Name generator for home based business

3. Create a business plan

There are two types of home based catering business models you can choose from. Both have their advantages and disadvantages when you start a catering business.

On-site vs. off-site catering

Onsite catering the food is cooked and prepared at the event location like a wedding venue or conference center.

Off-site catering the food is cooked and prepared off-site whether it be your home or another kitchen and brought to the venue, like a birthday party or corporate event. 

As a home based caterer you have the opportunity to choose either one of these business models and it will be up to you to determine which is the best one for you. You also need to look at the your local and state laws for catering, this could held determine which one is the better business model for you. 

A business plan for your catering business is an important tool for any entrepreneur or small business owner. It helps you to define your business goals, and map out a path to achieving them. It also forces you to look at your competition, and your target market to determine your marketing strategy. 

A well-crafted catering business plan can also help you to secure funding from investors or lenders. 

In short, a business plan is essential for anyone who wants to start a business. Without one, it will be difficult to make your business successful.

Here is what the SBA says: Ozb5LRAh9z8AAAAASUVORK5CYII=

Here is what a good catering business plan should include –

  1. Executive summary 
  2. Company description 
  3. Your business goals
  4. Organization and management
  5. A description of your product and services 
  6. Market research
  7. Outline of your marketing and sales plans
  8. Financial projection analysis
  9. Appendix
The purpose of a business plan is to give you a roadmap to follow and gives a document to present if you are requesting financing.  
marketing your home based business

4. Start Marketing your business

Your goal here is to find your first paying customer who is going to give you a deposit down to provide food for their event. The easiest events to start with are going to be smaller like

  • Birthday parties
  • graduations 
  • small corporate events 
  • family gatherings 
  • and any other small gathering with less than 100 people
You should try to avoid weddings or bigger corporate events because you need to make sure you can deliver the best possible experience and with limited resources it will be hard. 

Ways to market your catering business.

The best ways to get started marketing your catering business are all going to be free.

Word of mouth. Tell everyone you know that you are starting a catering business from your home and you are looking for customers. Let them know your ideal customer and what food you are going to provide. 

Facebook – set up a free profile on facebook and start posting about your catering business. You can also send visitors there to get some ideas of what you can provide

Hand out flyers. handing out and posting flyers around your community can be a great way to get started. Put them in grocery stores or anywhere you potential customers are hanging out.

Contact other catering companies in your area – now this may seem counter intuitive but a lot of time these catering companies have more jobs than they can handle or they are looking for someone to send some of the smaller jobs to that they do not want to take on. Referrals like this can really grow your business fast.

5. Get your first customer

The goal is to get your first paying customer and get a down payment for your services or ask them to pay for the whole thing upfront with a discount for doing so. 

You want to take that money and get the supplies you need to fill the job scope and use the remainder to register your business and get any business insurance you need. 

6. Get business insurance

If you’re running a home-based business, you might not think you need business insurance. After all, your home insurance policy should cover any damage to your home or personal belongings, right? Wrong. Home insurance policies typically exclude coverage for business-related activities. That’s why it’s important to have a separate business insurance policy in place to protect your home-based business.

Business insurance can help cover the cost of property damage, liability claims, and lost income if your business is forced to close due to an accident or natural disaster. It can also provide peace of mind knowing that you and your business are protected in the event of an unexpected setback. 

7. Hire and train your staff

Hiring and training your staff can be one of the hardest parts of your business but also the most important. How your staff interacts with your guest is going to influence how many referrals you can get and if you get asked back for more catering events. 

When you are first getting started on a budget the one thing you can do to save some money is to ask friends and family to help staff your first event. This will save you even more money and help you cover the costs of marketing your new business. 

Other considerations for catering business

Register your home-bases Business

Every business should be registered if you are going to be generating income from it. There are generally 3 different government levels you need to register with

This is what the SBA admin says:


  • Federal
    • You need to register at the federal level if you are creating a corporation 
    • Register for a EIN number for employees
  • State
    • State tax id
    • If you need to register sales tax within the state
    • If you are register as any type of corporation
  • Local
    • Need a permit or license from your city or county 
    • Local sales tax
    • Most local ordinances have a law requiring your to register your business if you going to be generating specific amount of income.

Obtain any licensure and permits requirements

Your catering business is going to need some type of license and permit to prepare and serve food out of your home. You may need a permit from the FDA and be prepared for periodic inspections. 

1. First you need to determine the type of business license that you need. There are different licenses and permits for different types of catering businesses and its impossible to cover all the different variations here, so it is important to make sure that you get the right one after consulting with your local business consultant. 

2. Fill out an application. The application will ask for basic information about your business, such as the name and address of the business. You will also need to provide proof that your business is legitimate and that you have the proper insurance in place. Once your application has been approved, you will be issued a business license. 

Depending on your location, you may need to renew your license on a yearly basis. 

Create separate Financial accounts for your catering business

When you start a home-based catering business, it’s important to create separate financial accounts. This will help you keep track of your business expenses and income, as well as ensure that you are paying the appropriate taxes. 

Business Bank Account

As soon as you start accepting money for your services you should open a business banking account. 

Common business account include a checking account, savings account and a merchant services account which allows you to accept credit and debit cards. 

Some of the benefits of having a business banking account are

  • Personal liability protection by keeping your personal funds separate from your business funds
  • Creates a perception of professionalism. Your customers and clients are able to write check directly our to your business instead of you personally

When selecting a business bank account, be sure to compare fees and services to find one that best suits your needs. Once you have opened your account, be sure to deposit all of your business income into this account and pay all of your business expenses from this account. 

Business Credit Card

You should have a separate credit card for you business. A business credit card can be a valuable tool for any small business owner. Not only does it provide a way to track expenses, but it can also help build business credit. This can be important when it comes time to apply for loans or other financing. In addition, many business credit cards offer rewards such as cash back or travel points. This can be a great way to save money on business expenses.

Business insurance for cleaning businesses

10. Start acquiring the equipment you need

catering business equipment

If you are on a shoestring budget you can start looking for used catering equipment to get started. Make sure you are aware of your local laws and only purchase equipment that will pass the requirement whether it only be stainless steel equipment or non porous surfaces. 

11. Start setting up your catering business software stack

catering business software

Every business needs software to run in this day and age. The right software will make you more money and if optimized correctly will help you run your business better. 

When it comes to software, there are a few basics that every home based business needs in order to function effectively. First and foremost, you’ll need a word processing program like Microsoft Word or Google Docs in order to create documents such as proposals, invoices, and marketing materials. 

You’ll also need some form of accounting software in order to keep track of your income and expenses. FreshBooks is a popular option for small businesses, but there are many others to choose from as well. 

Some software that home based business needs are: 

  • Accounting software
  • Invoicing software 
  • Inventory software
  • phone software
  • payroll software

With these software programs in place, you’ll be well on your way to running a successful home based business.


What are the benefits of starting a home based catering business?

For many people, the appeal of a home-based catering business is the ability to be their own boss and set their own hours. However, there are also a number of other potential benefits, including lower overhead costs, greater flexibility, and increased convenience. In addition, working from home can provide a much-needed sense of structure and routine for stay-at-home parents or retirees. 

There are also tax advantages of a home based business. Home-based businesses have many tax advantages over traditional businesses. For one, you can deduct a portion of your mortgage or rent as business expenses. 

You can also sometimes also deduct the cost of utilities, such as electricity and internet service. In addition, you can take advantage of the home office deduction, which allows you to deduct a portion of your home expenses, such as repairs and maintenance. Finally, you can often avoid paying self-employment tax on your business income. 

You should always talk to a certified public accountant before you employ any of these tax saving to be sure you are filing the right paperwork and safe from any audits. 

pros and cons for home based business

what are the Pro and cons to starting a home based catering business?

While there are many pros to starting a home based business there are also some cons.


  1. No commute
  2. You get to be your own boss
  3. You family life will be better balanced 
  4. You can enjoy some tax breaks and write-offs
  5. You have the opportunity to make more money
  6. More control over your schedule
  7. Lower overhead
  8. Live wherever you want


  1. There could be more distractions from family members
  2. No guaranteed income
  3. You may have to purchase private insurance
  4. It can be lonely 
  5. Blurring of the lines between work and family 

Frequently asked questions about home based catering businesses

How profitable is a catering business?

Catering businesses can be very profitable with the top catering businesses bringing 25% margins pre tax. This means if you do 1,000,000.00 dollars a year you can make 250,000 thousand dollars in profit. This would put you in the very top of the most profitable businesses. 

The average catering business makes about 7-8 percent margins which is very average for a small business based out of a home. 

Can you run small catering business from your home?

Yes, you can run a small business from your home. There are a number of advantages to running a small business from home. For one thing, it can be very cost-effective, since you won’t have to worry about office rental costs or other overhead expenses. Additionally, it can be much easier to manage your time and schedule when you’re working from home. And finally, you’ll have the freedom to create your own work environment that suits your needs and preferences. 

How can a beginner start a home based catering business?

Starting a catering business can be a daunting task, but with careful planning and a bit of hard work, it is possible to get your business off the ground. The first step is to come up with a business idea. 

After you have determined that there is a market for your idea, you need to start putting together a business plan. This should include a detailed description of your business, your target market, and your marketing and financial goals. Once you have a business plan in place, you need to start raising money to fund your venture. This can be done through investing your own savings, taking out loans, or seeking out investors. 

With careful planning and execution, it is possible to start a successful business from scratch.

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