Starting a catering business in Seattle requires that you have a clear understanding of city regulations and rules. While you may work your catering business out of your home, chances are if you have employees it will be under the purview of your home. If this is the case, then you will need to register a separate business name in order to use it on paper. A separate business name also makes it easier for you to get licenses, insurance policies, and financing for your business. On the other hand, if you are just a single person working solely out of your home, then you may consider simply listing your name as the business owner on all forms.
In order to ensure that your catering services are correctly listed and regulated, you will need to obtain an official business license for your specific location. The name of your catering license will appear on legal business documents such as contracts, income tax returns, and other paperwork. While you can operate your catering business out of your home, you must also think about incorporating, because this protects you against personal liability, like a sole proprietor or LLC.
If you decide to incorporate your catering business, then you will want to create a business structure consisting of a unique plan. You can do this by drawing up a written plan or using software that has a ready-make business structure. Many catering businesses today include a computer program that allows you to easily create your business structure, and then it can be implemented online. However, if you are not tech savvy you may wish to hire a small business planning company to help you with the design. They will help you put together a complete package including the legal forms required, employee identification, employee scheduling, and other supplies.
Once you have formed your company, the next step is to choose what type of catering company you want to be. The easiest way to do this is to choose a specific niche, or to start with a specific location. For example, if you start out focusing on wedding receptions, you might think about starting a catering company that specializes in that. You might think about starting a catering company in a particular city or state, or something else entirely, depending on the scope of your business.
The next thing you need to decide is how to get customers. Depending on the niche of your catering business you chose, this might include advertising through newspapers, television, billboards, fliers, or even word of mouth. You might think about developing your own policy statements and distributing them to potential customers so that they know you take customer satisfaction seriously.
Your catering business may need licenses, especially if you plan to serve alcohol, and you will need to get those permits before you open for business. However, you may want to consider forming a limited liability corporation, also called an LLC, which can shield you from personal debts, losses, and liabilities to your customers if your catering business fails. Limited liability corporations are very popular, and many individuals find them to be preferable to sole proprietorships.
If you’re going to hire employees, make sure that you choose the right ones. Many catering businesses have a number of different employees, and it can be hard to track their hours of work and their qualifications. However, small businesses that lack the creative freedom and don’t have a business plan often face difficulties hiring the right people and avoiding legal hassles. Consider working with an agency that specializes in finding caterers, or try to find local caterers who may not be as familiar with local laws.
Running a catering business can be fun and rewarding, but there are also many potential problems you’ll face along the way. Consider ways you can avoid them, and address them when they arise. If you follow these tips, you can ensure that your catering business does everything it should to be successful, while maintaining a level of creativity and originality that ensures your potential clients always remember your name.