Guest Author - Karen Tempel
Although most, if not all, personal chefs share a passion for cooking, there is no one correct way to arrive at a career in the personal chef industry. There are many successful personal chefs who come from vastly different backgrounds. Some have been professionally trained in culinary school and have chosen the personal chef industry as a means to gain more flexibility with their work schedule. Other personal chefs come from a corporate background and escape to follow their passion for food. Still others are stay-at-home moms or recent retirees who are looking for a satisfying career to fit their schedules. Each brings a skill set from their previous experiences and builds on that to grow a successful personal chef business.
Start-up expenses for a personal chef business are relative low compared to many other small businesses. Because most personal chefs begin by cooking only in their clients’ homes (rather than operating out of a commercial kitchen) overhead costs are generally low. A visit with an attorney and an accountant to discuss structuring the company and the tax implications involved are highly recommended. Contact should also be made with both the Health Department and Business License Office to be sure that all necessary requirements are met.
One of the most important factors in the quest to starting and running a successful personal chef business is in understanding the importance of marketing the business. Marketing is an on-going project and should be a continual process for both new and existing chef services. The marketing plan is a strategy that should be created, studied and reviewed periodically. Many personal chefs find that due to the very personal nature of the service, a word of mouth marketing plan is very effective. It is also important to identify target markets and formulate multiple means of reaching those markets and to review all plans on a regular basis to evaluate their effectiveness.
Another important factor in the success of a personal chef business lies in the support of a professional personal chef organization such as the United States Personal Chef Association (USPCA). A professional organization can provide both new and existing personal chefs with valuable continuing education, affordable liability insurance, access to other members for support, and recipe and menu planning software. The expense of joining a professional organization is should be weighed against the benefits received and could well be one of the best ways to help ensure success.
So, whether you are culinary trained or a home cook, a corporate executive of a stay-at-home mom, a successful personal chef business is well within your reach. A little bit of planning and some diligent marketing will have your new business thriving!