Wooden signs are a popular type of decor that show no sign of falling out of style. An individual with creativity and business savvy can start a wooden-sign business to connect with his community, generate income and give himself a creative outlet. Just like any other business, there are concrete steps to follow to start a wooden-sign business.
Develop a Business Plan
A business plan is a comprehensive document that covers all relevant information about a business. Although business plans for large businesses typically include information about specific positions on the leadership team, long-term financial projections and shareholder information, a business plan for a small wooden-sign business is shorter and only covers information applicable to the business. This information includes:
- The product offered
- The need in the market that the product will fill
- Where and how the product will be offered
- The product’s price point
- The leadership team
- How the business will be financed
- How the business will be marketed
Explore Business Venues
When planning to start a wooden-sign business, you need to determine where you will sell the signs. Where you sell your wooden signs can in turn determine how you sell the signs. If you choose to sell wooden signs through an online platform like Etsy, you have to accept electronic payments and abide by Etsy’s terms and conditions. If you choose to sell them through a home-decor consignment shop, you are subject to the store owner’s consignment agreement.
You can sell your signs through multiple venues. For example, you might opt to set up booths at local art and craft fairs and also sell wooden signs through a personal website. Selling through certain venues like Etsy is fairly straightforward for the business owner, whereas others, like setting up a personal website, require time and effort to build and maintain the website and manage all transactions and fees.
The costs associated with each potential business venue should be calculated into the business’s ongoing expenses.
Source Wood and All Supplies
Once you have a solid grasp on where and how you will sell wooden signs, the next step is to source the supplies you need to launch the business and start making wooden signs. These supplies fall into two categories:
- One-time purchases like saws and other tools
- Sign materials like wood, paint and twine
One-time purchases and regular supply shipments are fixed expenses. If you do not regularly order supplies and instead buy them as you need them, supplies are a variable expense. In either case, the business’s operating budget needs to account for these expenses.
Register the Business
How you register a wooden-sign business depends on the size and scope of the business. An individual who operates a small business as a hobby and side gig rather than a true income-generating operation is typically best served by remaining a sole proprietorship.
A sole proprietorship is the simplest kind of business incorporation and requires nothing more than registering the business with your state and the IRS. Legally, you and your sole proprietorship are one and the same, meaning you are liable for all tax obligations and any legal issues that impact the business.
Another avenue for registering a wooden-sign business is registering as a limited liability corporation. With an LLC, the business and its owner become two separate legal entities. In short, this means that the business rather than the individual owner is liable for all business taxes and if the business is sued, you will not potentially face having to cover related costs from your own assets.
Market Your Wooden-Sign Business
Marketing should start before a new business opens and continue for as long as the business exists. You can advertise wooden signs on social media and to the local art community through craft shows and community events. Ways to market wooden signs include:
- Posting videos of wooden signs being made
- Setting up booths at local craft fairs
- Creating a dedicated social media account to show off wooden signs
- Asking previous buyers for feedback and social media tags
Effective marketing can mean the difference between starting a successful wooden-sign business and having a business flounder and fail.
- Take pictures of your finished wooden signs and use them for ideas and for showcasing some of your products.
- Branch out by offering installation of your signs. Some states will require a special construction license, but this provides great way to get additional revenue.
- Strive for clarity on all custom orders: Prepare written prices and instructions for both your customer's and your protection.
- Check local zoning and tax laws before you start any business.
Lindsay Kramer has been a full-time writer since 2014. In that time, she's experienced the ups, downs and crazy twists life tends to take when you're launching, building and leading a small business. As a small business owner, her favorite aspect about writing in this field is helping other small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs become more fluent in the terminology and concepts they face in this role. Previously, she's written on entrepreneurship for 99designs and covered business law topics for law firms.