Catering Company Business Plans – Why You Need One for Your Catering Startup

Are you wondering if you really need a business plan for your catering business? Perhaps you are thinking that as you only plan on starting a relatively small business it won’t really be necessary. Many people think like this and, of course, many people end up failing in their first year of business.

We highly recommend that you avoid becoming yet another business that underestimated costs or found that the market wasn’t ready for what they had to offer. Below we have outlined ten reasons why you must prepare a catering company business plan. We explain how if you do take the time to prepare a plan you will be increasing your chances of being successful with your catering startup.

1) Start in the Right Direction

Many entrepreneurs think that they can start out without doing a lot of planning and research. They feel that they can always pick up a feel for the business as they go. However, some of the early decisions that you make in the life of your business can be difficult to reverse at a later date. You need to have a clear path set out ahead of you so that you can make the right decisions about how to set up the business right from the start.

2) Reinforce Your Ideas

As you slowly get ideas about the catering company that you want to start you will find that these thoughts start floating around in your head. What you imagine yourself doing is often very different from what you are able to do realistically. Nothing is impossible but you just need to work out how to get there.

By putting your ideas down on paper you will be clarifying them in your mind. As you write you will find that you do additional brainstorming. You may get new ideas about what you want to do with your business and you may decide that some of the ideas that you had initially are not really feasible.

3) Figure Out How to Do It

Every entrepreneur has a very idealistic image in their mind of the kind of business that they want. Getting to that point is a process though and you need to work out a path to get there.

One great way to figure out how you will proceed is to first write down what you want to do. Next, write down as many questions as you can about how you are actually going to do it. These will include questions like ‘Will I do on-site or off-site catering?’, ‘How will I get access to kitchen facilities?’ or ‘How many catering jobs will I need to land each month to break even?’. As you slowly work out the answers to the problems that you come across you can write them down in the appropriate sections of your business plan.

4) Know Your Startup Requirements

When you prepare a business plan you will get an accurate idea of exactly what is needed before you launch the company. You will need to consider all of the things that you will need to pay for prior to opening such as catering equipment, initial advertising and so on. When you have calculated the total cost you will then know exactly how much money you need and can look at where this funding will come from.

5) Increase Personal Productivity

You have to be organized when you start a business. Rather than writing things down on loose scraps of paper and hoping for the best you need to have somewhere to compile all of the important data that you collect. A business plan is ideal for this purpose. If you store the business plan as a document on your PC you can simply add new information as you come across it. If you have done your research and have all of you information stored in one convenient location you will be more organized throughout your business launch and you will avoid a lot of unnecessary headaches.

6) Prove the Viability of Your Idea to Others

A business plan is a great way to prove to yourself that your ideas are viable and that the catering company that you are proposing can thrive and make a profit. You will also need a plan in order to prove to other people that the business model that you have in mind is financially sound. Think of your business plan as being like a resume that you can hand out to people who need information about your business. You can always leave out sections that are not relevant to the reader in question.

There are many people who may wish to view your business plan and you should keep them in mind as you put it together. If you are seeking funding then you may have to show the plan to prospective lenders or equity investors. As a caterer you will certainly have to comply with local health and hygiene requirements and these local authorities may expect to see a section in your plan relating to these areas. You may even need to show your business plan to the owner of any kitchen premises that you hope to lease before they agree to sign an agreement with you.

7) Set Goals and Objectives

A business plan is like a road map to success. Your goals are the destinations that you are aiming to get to. They should be fairly realistic and achievable but should also push you to work hard to reach them. You may set financial goals that set out what kind of gross or net monthly income you intend to be earning after your first year. Other goals could also refer to other metrics such as average food cost percentages on catering jobs for example.

8) Identify Weaknesses and Strengths

It is important to assess your strengths and weaknesses and how they will affect you when it comes to competing with the established players in your local catering industry. You may bring competitive advantages to the business such as catering experience or local food and hospitality industry connections. You may also identify personal weaknesses that you can work on improving or weaknesses that your company will face when compared to your better established competitors.

9) Track Your Progress

A business plan should not be forgotten about once the catering business has launched. Refer to the plan regularly to see if you are on track to hit the goals that you set out. Make changes to the plan as you go so that you always have a plan in place for your business going forward at least two or three years.

10) Make Selling Out a Breeze

Many caterers end up selling their businesses if they retire or move on to other projects. A business plan that is up to date can really help when it comes to valuing your business for a potential sale. If your business offers a buyer a blueprint for managing the business and it offers solid proof that the business is making a profit then it could really help you to seal a deal at a favorable price.

Grow Your Business With a Growth Business Plan

Are you at a point with your business where you just don’t know what to do next?
Do you have a business plan?
How about a growth business plan?

Have you looked at a lot of different ways to grow your business and nothing seems to work?

The right growth business plan could be your answer. If a growth business plan is done the right way it may open up some opportunities you have never thought about before. A growth business plan can be developed many different ways but I would like to discuss a growth business plan that you may have never thought about.

Here is the way I would encourage you to set up a growth business plan:

• Do some dreaming about what you would like your lifestyle to be
• By dreaming decide on an average income you would like to have over the next few years
• Decide how many years out you would like your plan to cover
• Decide how much profit you would like for your business to generate above the income you want for yourself.
• Set up a profit and loss statement of your existing business or your proposed business
• With the right business knowledge and a profit and loss statement you can actually use that data to see what your business would need to do for you to give you that income and profit
• Even better you can determine what size market you would need and even determine whether your market would support your business presently and in the future.

To me a small business is one of the best things you can have if you enjoy operating a business; however, it does require a lot more than just enjoying ownership and running a business. Especially if you are starting a small business and even if you have had a business for many years, you should know what you want for your future. Never guess about your business. You see, without a plan, you are just guessing. We business people work hard and we always continue to hope for the best but when we guess, we’re taking a lot of risks. You’ve probably heard the old saying from an unknown author that says, “If you fail to plan, then plan to fail.”

As a matter of fact, did you know that the Small Business Administration says that 50% of small business owners will fail sometime during their first 5 years? There are lots of reasons but one big one is that owners don’t have a plan. Another is they have picked a product or service that doesn’t have a big enough market to sustain their business and sometime during their future they will run out of customers.

Now as I said, there are many other reasons too.

After graduating from college, I started out in manufacturing as an engineer in a pretty large company and now, 45 years later, retiring as a of Director of Manufacturing, I have discovered an awful lot about business. Not only did I learn and teach a lot about business, I worked with small business owners as well. I’ve learned that it comes down to this. Too many owners work hard in their business but less on their business.

Do you work on your business as much as you work in your business? Do you ever dream about having a good lifestyle but just haven’t quite figured out what to do about it. Have you ever thought about seeing what your business would need to do to give you those dreams? Developing a growth business plan could be the answer.

So, why should you make a growth business plan? Well in simple terms you need to know where you’re going and how and when you’re going to get there.

Some of the questions a growth business plan might ask you are:

– Are you comfortable that the market wants and is willing to buy your product or service?
– Is your product or service priced so it is competitive in your market?
– What’s different about your product or service? Why would a customer purchase it over someone else’s?
– Is your market big enough to support your business? What about 15 years into the future?
– If you wanted a better lifestyle, what would your business need to do to give you that lifestyle?
– How much sales would your business need to generate to give you that income?
– How much sales would your business need to generate to give you the income you want 15 years into the future?
– What will be the cost of your labor and material?
– What will your expenses run?
– How much will it cost to overcome the capacity constraints that will occur as your business grows to meet your income requirements?
– Will your profit give you the income you want in the future and at the same time maintain a healthy business for you as well?

If you develop a good Profit & Loss Statement for your existing business for the current year or for the first year of your proposed business, you can use this data to actually project how much sales you would need to yield the income you want and the profit margin you want. You can plan ahead as far as you want. Sound impossible? It’s actually pretty simple and can be pretty accurate plan.

A plan like this would show you how much sales your business would need to do, what your fixed and variable expenses would be, what your material cost, labor cost and profit would need to be to provide the income and profit margin you want. You can see pretty quickly if it’s possible for you to get your business to that level. I don’t know of any better way than to have your business give you the income and profit you want. What’s neat is you can determine what you want your income to be and your profit to be over the next few years and develop a plan that can show you exactly what your business would need to do to give you that income and profit.

And with just a little more data you can actually determine how many customers you would need for each year you plan for and how many leads you would need. From that you can actually determine what size market you would need and whether your market is big enough to supply those leads that could be converted into customers.

Learn more about how to develop a growth business plan. Visit http://www.StrategicBusinessSolutionsLLC.com

Writing an Effective Business Plan For Your Small Business

Plans are Useless; Planning is Indispensable

“Plans are useless; planning is indispensable,” according to Dwight D. Eisenhower, then Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during WWII. Now, you may be in total agreement with the first part of that statement, but you are really not convinced of the truth of the second part.

At this point, you may be tempted to skip writing a business plan altogether, viewing it as an unnecessary exercise in jumping-through-the-hoops, suggested by some old business professor who probably never held down a “real” job anyway. Maybe it’s okay as an assignment for an MBA class, but it would be just too confining and irrelevant for today’s fast-paced business environment. Anyway, you’re ready! You’ve thought about this business venture for a long time and talked it over with friends and everybody agrees it’s a great idea. Best to strike while the iron is hot!

Press for Success

Far be it from me to dampen your enthusiasm, but you should give yourself every opportunity for success. That’s what the planning part of the process of creating your business plan will do. By the time you have pressed your way through it, you will not merely have some neatly arranged document to keep on file, you will have a working tool that addresses the essential factors that influence your future.

Besides, your friends may be 100% behind you in your new venture, but, in case you are hoping to involve others who have actual money to invest, you may need to be able to make a convincing case. Wouldn’t it be nice to have anticipated possible questions and be ready with plausible answers? If you are risking your own money, that is perhaps even a stronger reason to do some indispensable planning.

Easy Writer

If you are one who is intimidated by the blank page, never fear! There are several good software packages that will guide you through the process, such as Business Plan Pro Complete from PaloAltoSoftware. Business Plan Pro Complete walks you through the entire planning process and generates a complete, professional and ready to distribute plan with a proven formula for success. The planning wizard makes it a snap to get started since you simply answer yes or no questions to create your custom business plan framework. Bplans.com offers free business plan samples and how-to articles as well as a wealth of other information. It is definitely worth taking the time to checkout. Microsoft Office Online Templates also has a variety of free templates to use with their products. The wizard indicates the information you need and you fill it in as you go.

You may find that the easiest part is the actual writing of the plan. The real work comes in the data-gathering, which may take you a hundred hours or more, depending on what you already know or have researched. If your new venture is in an area where you’ve been working, you may already know about your customers, your suppliers, your marketing plan, your organizational structure, your financial and cash flow needs, equipment, inventory, and so on. If you know all of these except for Marketing, say, then this is where you will need to invest some time and effort. You can find a wealth of information by utilizing the traditional data sources such as chambers of commerce, major cities’ websites, trade associations, the US Census Bureau, trade journals, magazine and online articles and advertising, etc. Performing keyword searches on Google, or Ask will bring up websites to check out. Following are some places to start:

  • James J. Hill Reference Library (jjhill.org): One of the nation’s premier business libraries to bring you FREE and affordably priced tools and resources you can use to create a better business plan based on relevant and credible data.
  • U.S. Census Bureau (census.gov): A source for a variety of useful statistics, especially the Economic Census that comes out every 5 years.
  • American Demographics (adage.com/americandemographics): Just as the title suggests, numerous free reports about consumer demographics in the U.S. nationally and by statistical area.
  • Internet Public Library – The Census Data and Demographics (ipl.org)/: An especially useful site that has links to information about countries other than the U.S.
  • Corporate Information (corporateinformation.com): Features information summaries on over 350,000 companies in the U.S. and abroad for competitive analysis.

You can find a variety of companies online to help you with your market research. For example: Sundale Research’s (sundaleresearch.com) primary goal is to provide new and mature businesses with objective, accurate industry data and market analysis on a wide range of topics. Their market research is intended to save you time and money while keeping up with industry trends.

But your idea may be so new that you may also need to talk to potential customers, host some focus groups, talk to an ad agency, or maybe even make a prototype and float it past some people. Be prepared to spend the time. Remember, it’s not about the Plan but the Planning.

Build It on Paper First

Whether you decide to use business plan writing software or to just follow this guide and create your plan with your word processor, here are the sections of a good plan and the questions that need to be addressed:

  • Cover Page – Show the name of the company, your name, and the date.
  • Introduction – What is the name and address of the business? Who are the principals, their titles, and their addresses? What is the nature or purpose of the business? What is your launch date? How much start-up and/or operating capital is needed?
  • Executive Summary – One to three pages that summarize all the information to follow; come back and write this last.
  • Industry Analysis – How does your product or service compare with what is currently on the market? What is the trend in the overall industry? What have been the total sales in this industry over the previous 3 to 5 years? What new products or technologies have had the biggest impact on this industry recently? What is the future outlook for these and what trends are emerging? Who are the competitors, where are they located, and how are they doing? What advantage do you offer over them? Who is buying this product or service now? Describe the typical customer for this product or service. Are there emerging markets or market segments? Where does this product or service currently perform best? Possible Data Sources: trade associations; trade journals; attorneys & accountants dealing with the industry; industry salespeople; state business websites; focus groups.
  • Description – What product(s) or service(s) are you offering specifically? Are any patents, copyrights, or trademarks needed? Have they been acquired/filed? What is the size of your business? Where will it be located? Will this require purchasing or building a facility? Will this require leasing a facility? At what cost? Has a lease been negotiated? What personnel will you need? Where will you find suitable employees? What equipment do you need? Will it be purchased or leased? What are the qualifications of your principals? How do their backgrounds promote the success of this venture? Why do they think this will be a successful venture? Possible Data Sources: local Chamber of Commerce; community colleges & local universities; local employee leasing company; real estate agents; US Patent & Trademark Office; US Copyright Office.
  • Production Operation – If a product must be manufactured, what is the process? Will the work be done on-site or subcontracted? Who are the subcontractor(s)? If on-site, what space, equipment, machinery, production employees are needed? What suppliers are needed? Who are they? How will quality be assured? What is the anticipated production output? What established credit lines do you have? Possible Data Sources: local Chamber of Commerce; yellow pages; trade associations.
  • Service Operation – If a service is offered, describe it. Will the work be done by company personnel or subcontracted? Who are the subcontractor(s)? If on-site or in cyberspace, what employee qualifications, equipment, and technologies are needed? How will quality be assured? What performance levels are anticipated per employee? Possible Data Sources: local Chamber of Commerce; yellow pages; trade associations.
  • Marketing – How is the product or service priced? How will it be distributed? How will it be promoted? Will it be promoted by the venture or an outside agency? What agency? How have you determined what amount to set aside for marketing? How have you determined product or service forecasts? Possible Data Sources: on-line searches; Amazon; local outlets; trade journals; industry attorneys & accountants; salespeople.
  • Organization
  • How is the business structured? Who are the principals and the principal shareholders? What authority does each principal have in the venture? What are management’s qualifications? What is the job description for each position? What does the organizational chart look like? Possible Data Sources: on-line templates for job descriptions & organizational chart.
  • Risk Assessment – What weaknesses are inherent in this venture? What vulnerabilities face this type of venture? What impact will these have? What new technologies may affect this venture over the next 1 to 3 years? What contingency plans are in place? What level of liability insurance is required? What does it cost? Who is the carrier? Possible Data Sources: trade associations; trade journals; Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE); industry salespeople; customers; focus groups.
  • Financial Plan – What is the anticipated income? What are the cash flow projections? What is the anticipated budget over the next 3 years? What is the break even point? When is it anticipated to be met? What funding is needed and where will it come from? What funding is currently available? What collateral is available? What is the net worth of the principals, if applicable? Possible Data Sources: accountant; accounting software; Small Business Administration; Small Business Development Center; SCORE; banks; venture capitalists.
  • Appendix – Resumes of principals/management; letters of recommendation from current business associates/customers/suppliers; marketing research data; demographic data; leases or contracts in place or as promised; business licenses; price lists from suppliers; trade or industry articles or data; floor plans; information on subcontractors; liability insurance policies.

Impress for Success – Now you have to admit, this is going to make an impressive package! Put it in a binder and you have built something to be proud of – the first of your many business accomplishments. Your potential investors will appreciate the depth of your analysis, but this tool will prove helpful in describing your venture to your employees, customers, and suppliers, as well. After you have been up and running for a few months, you will find that the planning that you have done will sensitize your inner “business compass” and allow you to flexibly adjust to contingencies. And that is indispensable!

In Summary

Planning out your business on paper first gives you long-term benefits with potential investors, employees, vendors, and suppliers. The business plan becomes your roadmap to success, with pertinent data that shapes the course of your business start-up and lets you adjust your journey as contingencies arise. Business planning templates are readily available and data sources abound at your fingertips. You will achieve a solid understanding of your business as you work through each section of your plan.

IMPress Action Checklist:

Below is a list of the steps that will help you put together your business plan. Check off each step as you complete it to keep track of your progress.

  1. Purchase business plan software or download a template
  2. Read over the business plan sections to decide what data you have, what data you need
  3. Gather data via the internet, phone interviews, print material
  4. Fill in the plan’s sections
  5. Write the Executive Summary
  6. Print and Bind Your Plan