Starting and running a profitable woodworking business is a lot more than knowing how to use a saw or hammer a nail. Being a successful woodworker involves organization, knowledge, patience, perseverance, people-skills, and a number of other traits. Many business owners fail, not because they weren’t skilled in working with their hands, but because they were not skilled in running a business.
As with any business, it is best to start small and work your way up. Don’t quit your day job and spend thousands on the ultimate woodworking shop. It’s OK to have big dreams, but make sure you plan carefully first.
3 STEPS TO STARTING A WOODWORKING BUSINESS
There are three basic steps to starting a woodworking business. First is planning. Second is registering with proper government institutions. Lastly, you will need to promote your business in some way to attract customers.
1. Plan Your Woodworking Business
Develop a Business Plan
Before diving in to any business, you should develop a business plan. If you want to start any type of woodworking business, you definitely need to start with a business plan! Setting up a complete woodworking shop can cost a lot of money. A business plan doesn’t have to be anything complicated, but is something that will help organize your goals and priorities and help you make wise decisions.
Planning properly will help you decide if you are going to specialize in a specific niche such as custom cabinetry work, or if you will offer a variety of services.
- Set short and long-term goals – Plan your business before you spend a dime.
- Decide what services you will offer – Decide the scope of your business.
- Find a niche – What will be your specialty? What will set you apart from the competition?
- Choose a business name – Put some thought into deciding a name for your woodworking business.
- Decide what you will charge for your services
- Financing – You may need to get a business loan
As soon as you start your woodworking business, you will need some sort of organizational structure so you can keep your customer communications and business-related paperwork in order. You won’t necessarily need a full office when starting out. An office desk dedicated to your woodworking business paperwork would be helpful.
Get a daily planner or use your smartphone to schedule estimates, jobs, and other work-related appointments. An easy way to lose customers is to arrive late or even forget a scheduled appointment. A schedule will help you plan your day, week, and month, so you can make best use of your time and your customer’s time.
- Set up an office
- Business phone
- Estimate forms
- Bill Forms
Equipment needed when starting a woodworking business
This is obvious, but you can’t start a woodworking business without woodworking tools and equipment. Equipment will probably account for the largest portion of your startup costs. Starting out, you don’t necessarily need all brand-new tools and equipment. You will save thousands of dollars in startup costs by purchasing used tools and equipment. Another tip is to only buy tools as jobs require them. If you don’t need a drum sander now, don’t purchase it now. This will help keep you from going into debt for tools and equipment you may end up never using.
2. Register Your New Woodworking Business
Make it legal
Make sure you are following proper protocol in your region. This means having necessary insurance, following tax codes, getting proper licenses and permits, etc. This applies even to a part-time woodworking business. Some of these points won’t apply if you will be a sole-proprietor with no employees.
Some steps to starting your woodworking business legally:
- Select your business structure (sole-proprietor, LLC, Corporation, etc.)
- Register your business name
- Register your business entity
- Register as a home improvement contractor with your state (US)
- Open a business bank account
- Taxes- either get an accountant, or do research on filing yourself
- Liability Insurance
- Worker’s Compensation
- City Licenses and Permits
(The pages below are geared toward roofers, but the information and links will help any type of contractor, including woodworkers, start a business)
Register A Woodworking Business In: The United States
3. Grow Your New Woodworking Business
In order to grow your woodworking, you will need to work hard, have people skills, and be patient. You will also need to market your business effectively. Success and profit won’t come overnight.
Beside employees, dealing with customers can cause a great amount of stress. Learning how to communicate well with customers can help boost sales and increase word-of-mouth leads.
- Learn how to sell a woodworking job to a potential customer
- Estimate a woodworking project properly
- Communicate regularly and clearly with the customer
- Be fair and honest- take responsibility for your mistakes
After you start your woodworking business, you need to market it. Some low-cost advertising to get started can include a basic 1 or 2 page website, setting up a free business listing for your woodworking business on Google and other online directories, social media accounts, business cards and a few yard signs.
How to Start a Woodworking Business in Canada
How to Start A Woodworking Business in the UK