If you are a great cook, people might suggest to you that you start your own catering business. However, as anyone who has started a small business knows there is more to starting a business than meets the eye. Here are 4 things to consider before you start up.

Access to a commercial kitchen

Even if you can whip up some huge meals in your home kitchen, in order to take on professional contracts, you'll need to have access to a commercial kitchen which meets appropriate standard on cleanliness and temperature control for storage. You can't have people getting sick from your food, and your service will be shut down by the government if you can't prove that you meet these standards.

If you don't initially have access to a commercial kitchen, it can be worth offering to act as a function service company for local restaurants or delis. They can make the food while you co-ordinate the food service angle, and this gives you some time to develop a network and hire some wait staff so that you can eventually ramp up into a full service if you find you enjoy running the business.

Your market positioning

The catering service industry is filled with many different operators. You need to find a way differentiate your service, whether it's being a healthy alternative with local food or a decadent service with delicious food, or something else entirely. You can often get some great ideas by checking out the market in your city, as well as other cities, to see what popular options your city might be lacking.

Larger markets often have more potential for niche offering, while you may have to have a broader approach in smaller markets.

Your role in the business

It can be easy to imagine yourself as a caterer if you enjoy cooking. However, cooking is only a small part of running a catering company. You also spend a lot of time meeting with clients, doing administration such as book keeping and hiring and managing your wait staff. If you are only interested in the cooking side of the business, it may make sense to have another person as a business manager.

If you are contemplating buying or starting a catering services company, you should investigate catering companies in your area (such as Essentially Gourmet), to work the ingredients for a profitable business. Then you can work out your own recipe for success.