Since you are reading this post, obviously you are a foodie and love cooking. This is second post in the series of lucrative hobbies. We have already seen how amateur photography, can become a profitable side business. If you consider cooking to be fun, then a home based catering service is the perfect way to earn a little extra on the side. But here we go one step ahead…we shall see how a hobby can turn into a full time business.
Let me tell you what Radhika, my friend did. She was working as a software engineer in a mid-cap IT company, earning a reasonably good income. She saw how most of her colleagues craved for homemade food. Living in PG accommodation and eating in restaurants day and night can really make one homesick. So she decided to start a catering service stage by stage.
Radhika spread the word among her colleagues, relations, friends and neighbours that she would take party orders at weekends for a small group of 6-12 people. Meanwhile, she also planned some menus. Since she always cooked her own meals she was able to calculate an approximate cost per person. Adding a little extra for home delivery, she arrived at a quote that was really affordable. She began experimenting with different types of cuisine and offered variety.
Meanwhile, she enrolled for culinary arts class for two hours a week. Here she learnt salad decorations and presentation of different dishes. She realised that people evaluate a dish with their eyes before they are willing to taste it. So presentation is king in the catering business.
As her orders increased she needed help. Sometimes she would have multiple orders over the weekend. Some clients asked for customised dishes. Add this to her regular job; and she was obviously finding it difficult to cope with the pressure.
Easy solution – she roped in a couple of college students living nearby to help her with tedious tasks like chopping, grating, grinding, etc for a reasonable fee. They were happy to earn some pocket money and she was happy to have help. Besides, they brought in more business.
Now Radhika decided that she had a sufficiently large client-base to sustain her catering service over a long time. So she chucked her regular job and decided to go full time into catering. But party orders were still limited to weekends. So she started providing tiffins or lunch boxes on weekdays too.
Radhika was operating her catering business from home but she had a full time staff of two helpers in the kitchen and a delivery boy to carry the tiffins over to numerous clients each day. Earlier, it was just a small lucrative hobby. Now it was time for legal compliance.
She looked up on Google and read the local **Health Department’s regulations pertaining to licenses for small businesses. One of the requirements of the Department was inspection of the place where the food is stored and cooked, and also how it was packed and delivered.
Once she had complied with the legal requirements, it was time to focus on business expansion. Networking is another aspect that is very important when you are running your own business. So Radhika never missed a party. In fact, she did this right from the start. She attended and monitored the service at every party. In that process she met more potential clients.
The proof of her success is in the fact that she now needs a full time accountant as well! Radhika’s part time hobby of providing catering service had turned into a full-fledged small scale business. I won’t be surprised if she branches out into corporate catering. If she can do it, so can you…
**Before you decide to go full time, please remember to comply with the local government regulation pertaining to a small scale catering service.