Starting a cooking business can be a great way to turn your passion for food into a successful career. But there are many things to consider before you get started.
Here are the 10 steps you can take to get started on building your very own cooking business.
10 Steps to Launching a New Cooking Business
1. Choose Your Type of Cooking Business
The first step in launching a cooking business is to identify the type of cooking business you want to launch. You might choose from the following types, among others:
Catering business: A catering business provides food services to events and gatherings.
Food truck business: A food truck sells food from a mobile kitchen, typically parked in high-traffic areas.
Meal delivery service: A meal delivery service delivers prepared meals to customers’ homes or workplaces.
Private chef service: A private chef cooks meals for individual clients in their homes.
2. Name Your Cooking Business
Give your cooking business an identity so people will think of it as a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your cooking business from your geographical location, or use your own name, among other options.
The main goal of naming your cooking business is to make it sound appealing and trustworthy so that people will want to use your services.
3. Determine Your Cooking Business Model
There are several possible types of business models for a cooking business, including:
- In-person services: You provide your services in person to customers who come to you. This might include catering events or cooking in people’s homes.
- Delivery services: You deliver food to your customers either through a delivery service or by driving yourself.
- Meal subscription service: Customers sign up for a weekly or monthly meal plan and you deliver the prepared meals to them.
No matter which model you choose, make sure that it aligns with your business goals and the services you offer.
4. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business
By incorporating your cooking business, you will limit your liability. You can incorporate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a C Corporation (C-Corp), or an S Corporation (S-Corp). Or you can operate as a sole proprietorship.
The business structure you choose for your cooking business will determine the amount of taxes you pay and which state or federal tax forms you need to file.
Read our article comparing the most common cooking business structures.
5. Write a Cooking Business Plan
All cooking business owners should develop a business plan.
A business plan is a document that outlines the goals, strategies, and operations of a business. It can be used to secure funding from investors or lenders, as well as to guide the day-to-day operations of the business. The business plan should include information on the company’s products or services, market analysis, financial projections, and management team among other things.
When developing your cooking business plan and strategy, you should think about the following questions your customers might have:
- What services do you offer?
- What is your price list?
- Do you have any menus?
- How long have you been in business?
- Are you licensed and insured?
- Do you have any references?
- What type of cuisine do you specialize in?
- What is the delivery area for your services?
- What are your business hours?
- Do you have a website?
Read our article about how to write a cooking business plan.
6. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses
There may be required licenses and permits you need to obtain before launching your cooking business.
For example, if you prepare food in a commercial kitchen, you will need to obtain a permit from your local health department. If you will be catering events, you may need a special event permit.
You must also register your cooking business as a legal entity with the state where you plan to do business. You can simply file an online form through your Secretary of State website.
Registering with the federal government is also essential so you can properly pay taxes for your business. You will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can apply for at the IRS website, if you plan to hire employees.
Read our article about obtaining the proper cooking business licenses.
7. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed
In developing your cooking business plan, you will figure out how much funding you need to start and grow your business.
If you have funds to invest in your cooking business, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to your personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your cooking business include traditional bank loans, SBA loans, credit cards, angel investors and family and friends.
Read our article about the costs associated with starting a cooking business to help you determine if funding is needed.
8. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently
When you start your cooking business, it’s essential to have the right technology in place to maximize efficiency. You definitely need a computer with Internet access, and accounting software for tracking expenses and revenues.
You may also want to invest in customer relationship management (CRM) software to manage your clients and project management software to keep track of your catering projects. And if you plan on delivery services, you will need a GPS system.
Read our article about the technology and software you need to run a cooking business.
9. Market Your Cooking Business to Potential Clients
Before you start selling your services, you have to let the world know you exist. The first step is to create a website so people can learn more about your services and how they benefit them.
After you launch your website, start promoting it through social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Also consider networking with other people in the cooking industry through social media and blogs so they can help share your business.
You also need to start gathering the materials needed to execute on your promotions strategy, which is your strategy for attracting new customers. Cooking businesses should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared:
- Offer cooking classes to the public.
- Develop recipes and post them on your website or blog.
- Create a social media profile for your cooking business and populate it regularly.
- Get involved with local food initiatives and collaborate with other businesses.
- Offer catering services for special events.
- Participate in local food festivals and other events.
- Make sure your website is optimized for search engines so people can find you when they search for terms related to your business.
- Develop marketing collateral like business cards, flyers, and brochures.
- Get press coverage by pitching story ideas to reporters and bloggers in your industry.
Read our article about how to market your cooking business for more tips.
10. Get New Clients & Grow Your Business
When you promote your services, you’ll start to get interest from potential clients.
Make sure you’re ready to serve these clients. Also, be sure to establish systems to ensure consistency and reduce costs. And be sure to find and train the right people to help you grow your cooking business.
Read our article about how to effectively grow your cooking business to learn more.
Starting a Cooking Business FAQs
Why Start a Cooking Business?
Cooking is a passion for many people, and starting a cooking business is a great way to turn that passion into a career. Not only can you make a good living as a cooking business owner, but you can also enjoy the satisfaction that comes with running your own business and being your own boss.
What is Needed to Start a Successful Cooking Business?
There are a few things you need to start a successful cooking business. First, you need experience working in the kitchen. This can be gained through culinary school, working in restaurants or catering businesses. Additionally, you will need business skills to run your operation effectively.
How Can I Start a Cooking Business From Home?
If you want to start a cooking business from home, there are a few things you need to do. First, you must ensure your kitchen is up to code and meets all the necessary health and safety requirements. Finally, you need to get the right business licenses and permits.
What are Some Tips for Starting a Cooking Business?
Here are a few tips for starting a cooking business:
- Find the right location. When you're looking for a place to start your business, it's important to find a location that is convenient for your clients. You should also ensure the space is large enough to accommodate your kitchen and all of your equipment.
- Get the right licenses and permits. Before you can start operating your business, you need to make sure you have all the necessary licenses and permits. These will vary depending on your location and type of business.
- Choose the right menu. When you're starting a cooking business, it's important to choose a menu that is both delicious and affordable. This will help you attract customers and keep them coming back for more.
- Train your staff. Once you've hired your staff, it's important to train them properly so they can provide the best possible service to your customers.
- Promote your business. To attract customers, you need to promote your business. This can be done through marketing campaigns, social media, and word-of-mouth.
- 6. Keep your kitchen clean. One of the most important things you can do for your business is to keep your kitchen clean and organized. This will help you avoid foodborne illness and maintain a high level of quality control.
- Offer discounts and promotions. To keep your customers coming back, offer them discounts and promotions on their favorite dishes. This will show them that you value their business and appreciate their patronage.
- Give back to the community. One way to build goodwill for your business is to give back to the community. This can be done through donations, sponsorships, or volunteering.
Where Can I Find a Simple Checklist for Starting a Cooking Business?
A simple checklist to use when starting a cooking business is as follows:
- Choose Your Type of Cooking Business: This should be based on what you are best at and how much experience you have. Remember to keep your interests, skills, and experience in mind at all times.
- Name Your Cooking Business: This should be done with care, as your brand is important for attracting the right customers. A simple, memorable name will go a long way.
- Choose a Legal Form for Your Business: Whether you choose to become a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation or another option will depend on your business. Ensure that you are aware of all the implications of each type.
- Determine Your Cooking Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
- Write a Cooking Business Plan: Your business plan will also help you determine what your start-up costs will be and will provide a roadmap with which you can launch and grow.
- Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses: In most locations, you will be required to apply for a business license and/or permits before you can begin operations.
- Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed: You will need to know how much money you have to spend on all of your business-related expenses before opening any doors. If needed, apply for a small business loan or other funding options.
- Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently: You need to have the right tools in place to succeed. Implement software that will help you manage your time, contacts, and business operations in general.
- Market Your Cooking Business to Potential Clients: A solid marketing plan will be crucial to your success. It should focus on attracting the right customers so that you can provide them with the services they truly need.
- Get Clients & Grow Your Business: Once you have a solid marketing plan, it's time to actively pursue and secure those who could benefit the most from your services.
Starting a cooking business can be a great way to turn your passion for food into a successful career. By following the steps in this checklist, you’ll be well on your way to getting your business up and running.