When it comes to running any business, knowing where to start is essential for its survival. Whether you have a degree in furniture design and manufacturing, or have taught yourself how to design and manufacture unique pieces, if you want to sell your designs, you need skills related to business management, marketing and finances. Here’s a short guide on how to set things up.
Find your niche
You need to decide what kind of furniture you’re going to make. Whether it’s home upholstering, office furniture or kitchen cabinetry, you need to specify the materials you’re going to use, such as wood, metal, bamboo, and other suitable materials. This comes hand in hand with identifying your market. At the same time, you should decide whether you’re going to sell locally or expand to a broader market. A market analysis can assess the demand for your type of furniture, as well as identify competitors and their palette.
Choose a location
If you’re looking to run a brick and mortar store, you need a space that suits your customers’ needs. For example, if you’re making custom living room sets, you need a space large enough to display different options. Also, if you’re marketing your furniture to families, make sure the space accommodates parents with children and strollers. Researching zoning laws in your area will tell you where you’re permitted to run your business. Even if you decide to operate strictly online, you need a location for your workshop and a warehouse space.
Write a business plan
As an entrepreneur, you need to invest time in writing a business plan that provides you with a roadmap to success. Even if you see yourself more as an artist, you still need to devote time to business practices such as defining marketing strategies, developing financial projections and eventually considering expansion. It also defines your business structure, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation, which is essential for tax ramifications.
Purchase or lease machinery
The basic machinery and special equipment will allow you to streamline your manufacturing process and make it more efficient. A drop saw is indispensable for cutting larger pieces of timber, while a band saw is needed for cutting angled and curved shapes. A reliable automatic saw with a measuring stop system enables heavy reduction in the cutting labour content and intensity with solutions for cutting aluminium, steel and timber. Among other machines, you need a mortising machine for drilling out square mortising holes and a finisher for sanding off the edges and faces of timber.
Find inspiration for your designs
For a resourceful artisan, inspiration may come in many forms. The natural world is full of shadows, forms, and silhouettes that can be turned into shapes, lines, and colours of your designs. Even everyday items such as windows, food and buildings can spark ideas for table legs, cabinet layouts and other furniture elements. Finally, inspiration may always come from your customers’ needs. In general, the design and aesthetics of your furniture will be determined by the style you’ve chosen, such as contemporary, country, traditional, etc.
Create a website
Even if you strictly operate out of a brick and mortar store, you should have a high-quality website to display your work. Don’t hesitate to hire a good web designer who’ll make your online presentation look professional. It’s important that you update your site regularly with new pieces, and perhaps consider adding a blog page where you’ll post project updates and photographs of the best of your work taken by a professional photograph.
Apart from having great skills of a craftsman, running a successful custom furniture business takes a bit of an entrepreneurial edge and marketeer’s know-how in order to make it profitable.