There are plenty of people all over the world who have taken their passion for cooking and turned it into a profitable business: Jamie Oliver, Delia Smith, Gordon Ramsey, Marco Pierre White… The list is endless. But how can you do the same and turn your cooking hobby into a business?
Be Self-Sufficient First
The most important thing to note, besides the obvious requirement of being able to cook, is that running a business isn’t always about earning a fortune or getting rich. First and foremost, your business has to become self-sufficient. So how can you earn a living wage from your cooking hobby?
Cook for Friends and Family
Perhaps the most obvious place to start would be to cook for your friends and family. People are always having Birthdays (usually annually!) and parties and weddings and even funerals. If you can cook for these kinds of events for your friends and family, it will give you the time and chance to hone your craft and develop your skills.
Plus, when you’re cooking for your friends and family, you can make as many mistakes as you like because they’ll always forgive you. So burn the burritos, char the chicken and undercook the cod all you want, the main thing is you’ll be developing the experience of working under pressure and being able to supply the demand.
Don’t be Scared to Charge
When working for friends and family, don’t be afraid to charge. You’re building a business here, not doing them a favor. They’re going to spend money on catering anyway and you already have two things that another catering company doesn’t: familiarity and trust. So take advantage.
Starting out in the cookery trade is similar to starting out as a joiner or tradesman in that your work is your product and your reputation is important. In these industries, social recommendations and word of mouth is a fantastic way to generate most of your business.
A friend of mine is a joiner and my Aunty bakes cakes and both of them get almost all of their business from word of mouth referrals. So when you’re catering for friends and family, remind them to tell their further friends and family, too.
Networking to Encourage Word of Mouth
While you’re cooking for family and friends, find time to do some networking and speak to the guests. Chances are, they all have birthdays too! If they’re not interested in hiring you, ask them to recommend you to their friends.
Where Can They Contact You?
Create some business cards or even something as simple as a Facebook page - anything, but give them somewhere to go to get in contact with you should they want to. You can get 100 business cards for £5 at Vistaprint - you can’t argue with that!
Create an Online Presence
Having an online presence will help you with your networking and provide your contacts with an easy way of seeing your work or contacting you. You could:
- Create a Facebook page
- Join Twitter
- Build a website for free with Wordpress
- Post recipes on Pinterest
Now that you’re starting to attract customers, it’s time to think about how you can expand and generate revenue from more places. The more revenue streams you have, the profitable your business can be. Some further ideas on how you can expand include:
- Places to sell your products
- Conferences and businesses
- Whole of market
- Festivals and events
- Sports events like marathons, football games
- Car boot sales
- Strike up partnerships with event organisers like wedding planners, funeral directors and party venues
- Online orders and deliveries
You could also:
- Write a recipe book
- Teach cooking classes
- Create tutorials and how to videos and recipes online, then charge for advertising space on your website
No Overnight Successes
Turning your hobby into a business won’t happen overnight. You’ve got to be in it for the long haul. But if it’s your passion, then this won’t be as hard as it sounds. Keep at it, work on your reputation and the quality of your product, and have fun. You’ll get there, one step at a time.