How to Start a Personal Chef Business

Personal chefs prepare a wide array of delicious and healthy food for individuals, businesses, and other organizations. Some of these foods are prepared ahead of time for consumption throughout the upcoming week or month. Certain dishes are prepared at the client's home or place of business and consumed right away.

Learn how to start your own Personal Chef Business and whether it is the right fit for you.

Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.

Start a personal chef business by following these 10 steps:

  1. Plan your Personal Chef Business
  2. Form your Personal Chef Business into a Legal Entity
  3. Register your Personal Chef Business for Taxes
  4. Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
  5. Set up Accounting for your Personal Chef Business
  6. Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Personal Chef Business
  7. Get Personal Chef Business Insurance
  8. Define your Personal Chef Business Brand
  9. Create your Personal Chef Business Website
  10. Set up your Business Phone System

We have put together this simple guide to starting your personal chef business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.

STEP 1: Plan your business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Personal Chef Business Name Generator

If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.

When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:

  • Your state's business records
  • Federal and state trademark records
  • Social media platforms
  • Web domain availability.

It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.

Want some help naming your personal chef business?

Business Name Generator

What are the costs involved in opening a personal chef business?

A personal chef must purchase cooking supplies, food, food storage containers, rent/purchase space to prepare meals, obtain liability insurance, and invest in marketing efforts. One must pay a fee to obtain a license, permit, and Food Safety Certification.

What are the ongoing expenses for a personal chef business?

Personal chefs must pay for food, cooking supplies, a space for food preparation, utilities, high-speed Internet for recipe research purposes, liability insurance, rent, advertising, and labor. However, labor costs are typically non-existent or quite low when the business first starts. If you add a food prep assistant, they will likely earn between $10 and $15 per hour. If you opt to prepare meals from a space outside your home, monthly rent will likely run between $600 and $1,200 depending on the size and location. Utilities for such a food prep space will likely run $50 to $100 per month. High-speed Internet will likely cost around $50 per month.

Food costs hinge on the number of clients you recruit. The cost can range from around $400 per month to several thousands for multiple clients. Cooking supplies will eventually deteriorate. You will likely spend at least $50 to $100 on new cooking supplies each month. Budget in $100 to $200 per month for advertising purposes. A marketing professional might be necessary if the business expands across posterity. This professional will earn between $30,000 and $50,000 per year.

Who is the target market?

The ideal customer is a wealthy individual who is willing to refer the personal chef to other wealthy colleagues and friends. Personal chefs tend to prefer cooking for individuals who enjoy a wide variety of foods and are willing to try new dishes. Businesses and other organizations are also coveted as clients as they are comprised of numerous individuals. An abundance of mouths to feed means more money for the personal chef.

How does a personal chef business make money?

Personal chefs make money by charging customers a fee for food preparation, on-site cooking, grocery shopping, and nutritional advice.

How much can you charge customers?

Most personal chefs charge between $35 and $50 per hour. Some charge a daily or weekly rate that hinges on the number of meals prepared. If you are particularly successful and secure the business of especially wealthy clients, you will likely be able to charge upwards of $75 or more per hour.

How much profit can a personal chef business make?

The average personal chef makes around $40,000 per year. However, those with years of experience and an expansive client base make upwards of six figures per year. The best of the best build a brand and earn several hundred thousand dollars or even millions of dollars per year.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Personal chefs can boost profitability by going out of their way to build new relationships with those who are interested in their services. Even befriending someone who is not a “foodie” can lead to a reference to an individual who is willing to pay top-dollar for a personal chef. Personal chefs can also bolster their bottom line by teaching others how to cook, writing cookbooks, operating a popular website, and making cooking videos for YouTube. It is also possible to sell old cooking equipment when upgrading to new cookware.

Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!

STEP 2: Form a legal entity

The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your personal chef business is sued.

Form Your LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

Two such reliable services:

You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.

Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

You can acquire your EIN through the IRS website. If you would like to learn more about EINs, read our article, What is an EIN?

There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Open a business bank account

Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.

Get a business credit card

Getting a business credit card helps you:

  • Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.

Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a personal chef business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

For information about local licenses and permits:

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

Services Contract

In business where services are provided on an extended basis, a services contract is often put in place outlining terms and conditions of service.

Personal chef businesses should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project.  This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, and service level expectations. Here is an example of such a service agreement.

Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional service agreement for your personal chef business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.

STEP 7: Get business insurance

Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.

Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.

FInd out what types of insurance your Personal Chef Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Personal Chef Business.

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.

Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.

If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.

How to promote & market a personal chef business

The best way to market your business is to connect with others in your community. Let people know you run a personal chef business. Attend networking events, conferences, seminars, and other community events to befriend locals. Pass out business cards and post flyers that tout your business. It also helps to have a visually captivating website with insightful content. Take the opportunity to post content to your blog and social media platforms to establish yourself as a true expert in your niche and improve your search engine optimization (SEO).

How to keep customers coming back

Interact with fellow professionals, community members, and “foodies”. In some instances, personal chefs obtain steady business from establishing inroads with a single client who recommends his services to others. Target those who are wealthy. The vast majority of people are unwilling to pay for a personal chef. Your clients will likely be wealthy professionals, food enthusiasts, athletes, or uber-busy individuals who do not have time to cook.

STEP 9: Create your business website

After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.

While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.

Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:

  • All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
  • Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
  • Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.

Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.

Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.

STEP 10: Set up your business phone system

Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.

There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.

Recommended Business Phone Service: is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.

Is this Business Right For You?

This business is perfect for individuals who have a passion for tasty food and the cooking process. Those who are interested in creating fulfilling meals and healthy dishes that suit the nuanced palates of clients will thrive in this business.

Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

Entrepreneurship Quiz

What happens during a typical day at a personal chef business?

The typical personal chef spends the majority of his day preparing dishes for his clients. Many of these meals are created at the client's property. Some meals are partially prepared at the personal chef's home or another space designated for food preparation. Personal chefs also spend time researching recipes, new cooking techniques, and cooking equipment. They also handle client billing, marketing, logistics matters, and scheduling.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful personal chef business?

One's success as a personal chef hinges on their culinary skills. It is also important to take risks, try new ingredient combinations, and create new dishes. The best personal chefs customize each meal to the nuanced desires of the client. It also helps to be personable. Clients enjoy interacting with their personal chef. If one cannot hold a lengthy conversation, establish meaningful bonds with prospective and current clients, and persuade potential clients to sign up for meal service, they will struggle to succeed in this business.

What is the growth potential for a personal chef business?

The most successful personal chefs steadily add clients as time progresses. If they do not cook for the majority of their clients on-site, they can add employees for food preparation purposes. The most successful personal chefs establish well-known brands with regional, national, and even worldwide appeal. Some personal chefs become so successful that they develop into international icons with acclaimed cookbooks, TV cooking shows, and restaurant chains.

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Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Learn from other business owners

Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.

Resources to Help Women in Business

There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:

  • Funding
  • Events
  • Guides
  • Support

If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a personal chef business?

The best way to launch this business is to become a skilled culinary expert. In many instances, the quality of one's food is enough to inspire new clients to sign up and refer the chef's services to others. However, establishing relationships with individuals who can afford a personal chef is of the utmost importance. Half the battle is connecting with these individuals and convincing them to give you a chance to prepare their meals. Seize every opportunity to network with those in your community. Consider joining the United States Personal Chef Association (USPCA). Membership with this network of professionals will give you access to an abundance of food entrepreneurs and resources that will prove critically important to your new business. Be sure to tout your ability to create gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian meals as many of those with such specialized diets are willing to pay a personal chef to meet their individual culinary demands.

How and when to build a team

Many personal chefs do not require a team. If you eventually add enough clients to justify the addition of another employee, this new hire will likely assist with food preparation, billing, and/or scheduling. If you establish a brand based on the merit of your food, you will eventually need to add a number of people for food prep, accounting, marketing, and scheduling/reception duties.

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