I have cooked for several private events for people I know, and have more requests. So I was wondering if it is worth it to get licensed or a certificate or w/e I need in Indiana to be a caterer. Does anyone have any feedback on the headaches it takes to get licensed in Indiana? I know catering can be a lot of work, that doesn't bother me as I already cook for large events, 100+ people, just wondering about the legal headaches.
01-30-2013 12:50 PM
Getting sued and being unlicensed is a lot bigger headache!
Smoke House Moe
01-30-2013 02:32 PM
Jump in and worry about the landing later.
Of course there are headaches. Move past them.
You are on this forum and already cook for large parties. That doesn't guarantee anything, but it's a great start.
It's hard to foretell how your experience with the legal stuff will be. Reach out to you Heath department. Google "starting a food business in Indiana"
Just remember, no matter how much bs you have to deal with, you would have more if you were starting up in Southern California or Minnesota.
01-30-2013 07:48 PM
Not sure about Indiana specifics but the legal side is not bad as long as you have patience. The biggest frustration that I have has is dealing with the IRS, they will fine you $500 in a heart beat for making mistakes.
01-31-2013 03:04 PM
First and foremost, do your research. Call the Dept of Health and see what their requirements are. Do you need to be serv-safe certified in your area? In my opinion that was the biggest hurdle we faced, the Dept of Health requirements and stipulations. . No longer can you prepare items in your home, if you are going to be licensed you best secure a commercial kitchen or commissary license. Contact your insurance company and start getting qoutes for business insurance, workers comp, disability and commercial auto. A personal auto policy will not cover you if you are traveling for an event and get into an accident. I have had no issues with the IRS and setting up the legal entity just takes time and money. You can save yourself a lot but doing it yourself or using a service like legalzoom.
02-02-2013 08:00 AM
I agree with the last post, you will need to start a corporation and transfer your vehicle to a corporate policy, paid helpers need to file a 1099 for tax purposes, you will have to file for and pay state and local sales taxes on food items sold, pay rent to commissary for space. I use a quicken pro book keeper, accountant for taxes and lawyer for legal assistance to set up corp. and file yearly reports. Good Luck
02-02-2013 08:42 AM
Most people dont become legit because of the costs involved.
02-02-2013 10:45 AM
My business BOOMED after becoming legal. It was the best business decision I ever made. It's funny how people associate professionalism with legality. And they would be right.
02-04-2013 11:38 AM
Sounds like more trouble than its worth, I think I'll pass.
Smoke House Moe
02-04-2013 01:26 PM
We are just being real. Being on this forum can make the whole process much easier. One thing that worked for me was to network with other caterers. They are very helpful.
I reached out to about 10 caterers; 4-5 responded with a helpful email; 2 allowed me to buy them a coffee and answer some of my questions; 1 of those two has become a mentor and a great resource.
If you have determined catering is not for you, keep cooking some great Q and we are still happy to have you here.