Starting or building a new business can be exhilarating, terrifying, energizing and catastrophic—
sometimes all at once. You dream of starting a journey that will provide financial security,
opportunities for growth and a job you will love.
Yet the reality is many new businesses fail, caterers included. While the reasons can be many,
food service and business experts consistently cite some combination of these:
Poor planning.

  •  Inadequate or early overspending of capital.
  •  Poor inventory and staff management.
  •  Poor knowledge of competition.
  •  Failure to understand consumer preferences.

“Do your homework!” might be the easy takeaway to increase your chances of long-term
success. But how? Where do you turn to learn more? Here are several potential research and
advice sources—some free—to help you begin your business planning journey or to turn to
when hitting those bumps along the catering road.

  •  OSHA. The Occupational and Health Administration is a treasure trove of workplace
    health and safety information, derived from years of real-world enforcement and the
    latest in safety engineering. From articles to checklists to statistics, all provided by type
    of business, OSHA provides some of the finest—and free—resources, all available at
  •  SBA. The Small Business Administration has always provided key information,
    resources and services for small businesses. Consider talking to an expert at one of the
    SBA programs, SCORE. Its volunteers and mentors are, according to the SCORE.ORG
    website, “working and retired business owners, executives and managers who have
    been through the same challenges and decisions that many entrepreneurs are facing
    today.” While all receive specialized training, many have expertise in specific industries.
    Catering, anyone? And did we mention the program is free?
  •  Fellow caterers. Connect with colleagues through online resources where caterers
    gather to share problems, concerns, post specific questions, offer opinions and answers,
    and, above all, furnish practical advice specifically learned in the catering business.
    Search for interest groups or forums on social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook,
    but don’t overlook a simple online search to uncover such resources as catering articles
    on or the Professional Catering forum on
  •  Local business groups. Join a local business club or go online to search out local legal
    or accounting help, suppliers and other potential professional advisors with specific
    expertise in catering.
  •  The Internet or legal counsel. Research online or have your legal counsel advise you
    on state and local regulatory requirements affecting your business, such as licenses or
    permits (particularly if your plans include serving liquor); health, safety, staffing or
    employee issues; and location and transportation considerations (especially with food
  •  Your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent can be your most valuable
    asset in compiling a comprehensive plan of protection for your business today and
    tomorrow. He or she is trained to help you identify the catering business risks and
    hazards that could cause significant financial loss if not properly avoided, minimized or
    protected against. These may include: accidental injury or loss to your workers,
    equipment, location, vehicles, or inventory; protection against suits alleging injury to
    clients, guests, workers or other individuals arising from your products, services,
    locations or operations; and protection against lost profits due to your business being
    partially or temporarily shut down in the aftermath of specific perils such as fire, lightning,
    flooding, windstorm or theft striking your business or your suppliers or clients.
    Beginning with your Trusted Choice® independent agent as a key adviser, you can assemble a
    personal network of support sources and build the solid foundation your successful catering
    business needs. Start fulfilling your dreams today.

Beating the Odds
Despite the oft-cited statistic that more than 90% of new small businesses fail in the first year,
the reality is far more optimistic. According to experts who actually work in advising small
business startups, specifically restaurants, the actual failure rates (primarily due to the reasons
cited above in the article) are much closer to these:
First year: 26%
Second year: 19%
Third year: 14%


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