Ways To Make Quick Money Launching...

A Personal Chef "Fast Cash" Business

The Venture Step-by-Step

Running The Operation

• Set Objectives

Set Weekly And Monthly Goals

  1. Ask yourself what you want your personal chef business to look like in a month.

    • How many clients do you want?

    • How many meals do you want to be cooking in a month?

    • How much money do you want to be earning?

  2. Ask yourself what it's going to take on a weekly basis for you to meet your monthly financial goal.

    • How many clients will you be cooking for?

    • How many clients will you need to acquire?

    • How much marketing will you need to do?

    • How many cities/neighborhoods will you need to be servicing?

• Communication

  1. Setup A Business Email Account

    Using a personal email address for business purposes looks very unprofessional. Plus using your personal address may lead you to lose your client's emails amongst all the personal emails that you receive.

    NOTE: When you start out with your personal chef business, you really don't need to buy a domain name email address.

    Use Gmail to setup a designated business email address. It's free and integrated to Google Docs, which is also free and can help you run your business well.

    Assign an abbreviated business name to your email alias.

    Example: yourbusinessname@gmail.com, or firstname.lastname.yourbusinessname@gmail.com

    Obviously the shorter your email address, the easier it will be for your clients to type it.

  2. Assign A Phone Line

    Carry a cell phone with you. Use a cell (wireless) rather than a wireline phone. This way you can pick up a client call anywhere you are.

    Keep your scheduling calendar with you at all times to schedule jobs if you receive a call. If you have a smart phone, learn to use Google Calendar.

    Answer professionally always using your business greeting.

    Thank you for calling Thyme At The Table personal chef services. This is Jane speaking. How may I help you?

  3. Setup A Voicemail Message

    Your voice message should sound professional so that it leaves a good impression on potential clients, and it needs to attract them to your business over competitors.

    In your message let your clients know about a benefit you give that they can't find anywhere else.

    Your message could sound something like this:

    Hi! This is Jane Doe. Thank you for calling "Thyme At The Table" personal chef services, where healthy home-cooked meals become available for your family, even if you're too busy to cook them.

    Ask me about my free cooking lessons for kids and this week's alternative to burger and fries.

    I'm sorry I'm busy right now. But leave me a message with your name and number, and I'll return your call no later than 24 hours. Thank you and please visit my website Thyme – T-H-Y-M-E – at the Table dot com for a preview at some of my most popular menus.

• Business Structure

Start Out As A Sole Proprietorship

    Until you are ready to pay fees to incorporate as a new entity, you should run your personal chef business as a sole proprietor.

    A sole proprietorship is just you doing business as yourself. It's self-employment at its simplest.

    Usually as long as you do business in your own name and you aren't selling goods that force you to collect sales tax, the State doesn't require you to file any paperwork with it as a sole proprietorship.

    You can have a fictitious name as a sole proprietorship, just don't plagiarize the name of another business.

    If you decide to name your business something other than your own name, you may have to register a Fictitious Name Statement (aka Doing Business As) with the State.

    The disadvantage in operating as a sole proprietorship is that you are personally liable for any damages that your business operation might commit.

    This means that if your personal chef business doesn't have the money to pay for damages, then your personal assets will be used to make payment.

    This is why even as a sole proprietorship you need to consider buying insurance.

    Incorporating as a different business entity eliminates this personal liability issue.

    But it requires more out of pocket cash to cover legal fees and get the venture started. You trade off upfront cash for less liability risk.

    Incorporating can cost several hundred dollars. So unless you can't handle the concern over possibly being held personally liable for unexpected damages to your client's property, then don't incorporate right at the get go.

    Test the waters of your market conservatively as a sole proprietor.

    Use your early cash to plough it back into the business to cover for the risks that your growing operation will be taking on.

Avoid Registering As A DBA (Doing Business As)

    Until you're ready to pay the fees for incorporating, put your cash into your operation and not into legal fees.

    You can start this venture without having to register with the State for a DBA, if you simply use your personal (legal) name as the business name.

    • Example: There is no need to register a business if you name it "Jane Doe" and your name is Jane Doe.

    But you will have to register your personal chef business if you name it "Thyme At The Table", because this is not your legal name.

    Some states may not require persons to file a DBA as long as their legal name is part of the business name. Check with your county clerk to verify specifics for your area.

      Example: You may not need to register your business if you name it "Jane Doe's Personal Chef Services" and your name is Jane Doe.

    Drawbacks to not filing as a fictitious entity:

    • You will be unable to open a business checking account. But when you start out, a business checking account isn't necessary. Buy your supplies with cash.

    • Your own name might not be a very attractive name for any personal chef business.

    Drawbacks to filing as a fictitious entity:

    • You will have to spend money registering the new entity, whether as limited liability company, S-corporation, etc. But nobody should have to ask permission of the State to attempt to make a living. It's immoral.

      So try for a few days to determine the viability of operating a business as you think might work, doing your research, and then when you see evidence of sound potential, prepare to invest in the business by filing for a fictitious entity.

    • You will trade lower liability risk for cash. If you are on the risk-averse side of the fence, you will need more cash up front to eliminate what you consider to be the risk of starting an operation without being "fully government compliant."

      Again, your behavior will depend on the nature of how you view the role of the State in your life and its moral limits in permitting you to make a living.

      Remember: Might does not make right.

    Some states do not require persons to file a DBA regardless of what they name their business.

    Go here to learn whether your state offers this option.

• Cooking Business License

At a certain point, your local government may require you to have a cooking business license. You can check with your county clerk to make sure what the definitive point is for your locality.

If you get a cooking business license, register it as a "personal service" and not as a "cooking company". The state will consider your business a food catering service if you identify it as a "cooking company".

By law a food catering service requires a substantial number of certifications, permits and other licenses in order to function legally.

A personal chef business, by contrast, that is properly identified as a "personal service" isn't required to get as many certifications, permits, or other licenses as long as the food is prepared entirely in your client's home.


    Micro-business owners often run their businesses from home without a business license until they have the money to subject themselves to one without a problem. You won't be able to do this in every respect with a personal chef business.

    However, you will be able to run some aspects of your operation from your own home, so long as you're not preparing food from your own kitchen.

    Make sure you are not in the meantime provoking your neighbors to question the legitimacy of your situation, so that they won't raise questions about your compliance to local zoning regulations.

    If you conduct yourself professionally, there is no reason anyone should question you regarding a business license before you're ready to afford paying for one, if required by your local government.

Food Handling Certification

Anyone who works in a kitchen for business purposes is required to have a Food and Safety certificate.

This certificate is rather inexpensive to get, and can be easily completed online. Or if you would rather take it in a classroom setting, then you'll probably find a class administered at a local culinary school or community college.

This web-based training site allows anyone to take the Food Safety Course online and print a certificate from home, all for $50.

• Business Insurance

Personal chefs who are just starting out don't usually choose to buy insurance until they have a few clients.

However, it is important for you to consider if going with or without insurance at the outset is best for you.

  • Ask yourself if the amount of business that you plan on doing justifies paying for insurance.

    If you only plan to work for 2-4 clients, then it would be pointless to expect a large profit after you pay for insurance.

    Just do your work carefully and continue to increase your customer base until the revenue volume is sufficient to cover the insurance premium for the higher risk damaging any property.

  • Ask yourself if you can handle the thought of potentially damaging property or having a client accuse you of making them sick without owning insurance.

    If you're always concerned whether your food will make a client sick, or washing fragile dishes and chopping with a knife makes you nervous, then getting insurance could save you from some headaches. But be reasonable or you'll never get a business going.

  • Ask yourself if your target audience is prone to taking legal action. Be meticulous in your work, and work only with trusting and understanding customers. Be selective. Not everybody willing to hire you is worth being hired by. Develop a relationship with your customers and make sure they are people with integrity, just as you ought to be.

  • Get to know if your client base will require that you have liability insurance in order to do business with them.

If you decide to go with insurance, then here's some helpful information:

Business insurance is usually broken up into four insurance types. All are valuable, but not all are necessary for a beginner.

General Liability Insurance - General Liability insurance covers claims of bodily injury or other physical injury or property damage.

Like car insurance, the higher your deductible, the smaller the premium.


    When you sign up for general liability insurance, make sure to tell your broker that your business IS NOT a food catering service. Otherwise your premium will be higher. Let your broker know that you work as a personal chef.

Here are two associations that provide insurance specifically to personal chefs. You can view their policies to get an idea for how much their insurance costs and covers:

However, both these associations require a membership in order to purchase their insurance, and you'll be required to complete their Personal Chef Certification (CPC).

Commercial Auto Insurance - Commercial auto insurance covers any claims of bodily injury or other physical injury or property damage resulting from an accident involving your car.

Your personal car insurance WILL NOT cover any claims that occur against you for damages caused by your car while on business as a personal chef.

Equipment Floater Insurance - This covers any damage to or theft of your equipment.

Worker's Compensation Insurance - This only applies for businesses that hire employees.

• Scheduling

As a personal chef, your schedule is mainly dependent on the eating habits of your clients. However, whenever possible, schedule your jobs in similar locations, and on the same days of the week.

Your main objective is to reduce the amount of time spent driving from one job to the next. Traveling doesn't bring in any money.

Example: On Monday and Tuesday you do cooking jobs in the city of Westville. Wednesday and Friday you only do jobs in the city of Eastville. Better yet, try to find clients within a few blocks from each other. Target neighborhoods and get word of mouth referrals from one neighbor to the next.

  • Memorize where all the wholesale and small grocery stores are in every district you work.

  • Be consistent to your schedule. This way your clients get a sense of your discipline and reliability.

  • Give yourself enough time between jobs to travel from one location to the next.

    Track your time once you schedule your week.

  • Use Google Calendar. It's an awesome tool that can sync with your cell phone, plus it allows you access to other Google applications that can track other aspects of your business operation and that you can access remotely, while you're away on site somewhere.

  • At the beginning of each day, print out a copy of your weekly schedule and carry it around with you at all times in case you get a call from a client who would like to schedule a job.

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