More people are interested in buying locally made products than ever before. Cross-cultural communications expert Marieke de Mooij points out that “localization is a clear countermovement to globalization.” You can capitalize on many consumers’ return to local shopping by emphasizing that all components of your furniture are made in the United States, or in your town or area. The same applies to handmade goods. Individuals who are tired of mass-produced goods are often the same people who are interested in buying locally. Given this climate, it is a good time to start a handmade furniture business.
Give your business a name. Name your business something that indicates what you sell. This will come in handy later on, when you are marketing your business and want people to associate your business name with handmade furniture.
File a DBA, which stands for “doing business as,” at your local county clerk’s office. You may want to do a search to ensure that no other business in your town is operating under the same name. If you live in a large metropolitan area, a search is a necessity.
Buy the materials you need for your business. For handmade furniture, this could mean a lathe, various types of saws and safety equipment. You may also need a computer to keep track of billing records and your expenses. Save the receipts from everything you buy so that you can use them later as a write-off on your taxes.
Decide what market you will target. Do you plan to sell to upscale customers who will pay a premium for a custom piece, or will you sell basic unfinished pieces to the DIY crowd? Identifying the market before you open shop will help you sell more pieces at the prices you want to command.
Create a line of furniture. You’ll need to have models of each piece of furniture that you intend to sell, so that customers can easily visualize what you have to offer. Add to your furniture line each year so that your stock stays fresh and on-trend.
Establish an online presence, even if you don’t intend to sell online. Take professional-quality photographs of your furniture and put them on a website explaining what your business does and how you can be contacted. Put the name of your town on the website so that if people search for “rustic furniture Clearlake,” your site can easily be found.
Offer custom work. You can do this by offering different options on your existing furniture models. You might offer your furniture in a variety of woods and finishes, for example.
Offer delivery of the furniture. Many furniture customers will expect this. Establish a radius in which you will deliver for free, and inform customers of the charge per mile thereafter.
Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.