Catering is a business that can be started up with very little capital. However, there are still some critical things related to food safety that should be considered before anyone invests in starting up a catering business. If these issues are ignored, the business could spoil before it ever gets served up to the public.
Depending on where you live, you may need a special permit before you can sell food that has been prepared in your kitchen. Each state varies according to their individual laws regarding your right to make food for commercial use in your kitchen. To find out what your state regulations are, consult with your local town hall.
If your kitchen does not qualify for a permit to make food for commercial purposes, you might consider renting a commercial kitchen for your food preparation. This will be an added expense, but the burden of keeping your home kitchen spotless will be lifted.
The catering industry inherently involves cooking for large numbers of servings. It's likely that you will need some kind of commercial refrigeration to keep food fresh while you cook and prepare the rest of the menu. A home refrigerator is rarely large enough or cold enough to serve this purpose. Typically, your home refrigerator will be filled with your family's food, and it's unlikely you'll have the space to store the large trays you'll need to run your catering business.
You can rent space in a commercial refrigeration unit from a local restaurant. You can pay as you go, and only use it when you have a catering job to plan for. There may also be commercial refrigeration available in any commercial kitchen that you rent to prepare the food.
Realize that you may not be able to obtain the ingredients you need for your catering business from your local supermarket. They may not be reliable enough, may not have the exotic ingredient you are looking for, or may be priced too high so that you can't have a good profit margin.
Carefully consider where you are going to source your ingredients. They need to be fresh to you, and come from a place with sufficient packaging standards so that you can be assured of safe ingredients. Many chefs and catering business owners source fresh ingredients from local farms or fisheries to get wholesale prices and top quality produce.
Your catering customers will appreciate your attention to food safety, and it will reflect in your menu and your reputation.