My husband and I have opened a catering business. We’ve assisted several churches and local companies with their catering needs, but a lack of capital is keeping our business from growing further. Can you suggest any funding resources or ideas?
De Soto, TX
Start by reading Catering: A Guide to Managing a Successful Business Operation (Wiley; $45) by Bruce Mattel. An associate professor in culinary arts at the Culinary Institute of America, Mattel suggests having at least $100,000 before starting your business, but this figure can vary. You’ll need it to secure permits, supplies, licenses, insurance, staff, etc.
To score jobs, cultivate your existing personal and professional relationships. Be sure you’re setting prices and delivery estimates that give you a profit; to save money, consider bartering and cooperative advertising (working with other neighborhood businesses to advertise). You can also curb costs by renting equipment and workspace for large jobs.
For financing, contact reputable small business microlending organizations such as Acción USA (www.accionusa.org). Be sure to have a solid business plan in hand detailing how you intend to make the business a success in the short and long term. Another industry resource is Catersource (www.catersource.com), which publishes a magazine and offers an annual conference and tradeshow. Get involved with local small business organizations, such as the DeSoto Chamber of Commerce (www.visitdesototexas.com) and the DeSoto Economic Development Corp. (www.dedc.org). The Dallas County Minority and Women Business Enterprise (www.dallascounty.org, click the Doing Business tab); North Texas Small Business Development Center Network (www.ntsbdc.org); Score (www.dallas-score-22.org); and the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (www.mbda.gov) are also great resources. Visit www.blackenterprise.com to read Edible Endeavors, a business profile that includes a cornucopia of information about starting a catering business. These tools, resources, and tips can help you cook up a recipe for business success.