A woodworking business offers those who enjoy wood crafts and have this unique skill set an exciting and enjoyable way to make a living. Woodworkers bring together a variety of desirable traits, including precision, being detail-oriented, and having tremendous technical skills to create beautiful wood products that customers can use in a variety of ways.
Woodworkers contribute to a variety of different types of trades and products. Some professionals will put their woodworking skills to use creating high-quality materials full-time. Others just want to make money selling items on DIY sites like Etsy part-time. If you enjoy working with wood and want to pursue this line of work either part or full time, here is what you need to know to start your own successful woodworking business.
What You Need to Know as a Woodworker
Woodworkers do not need to have any particular college degree or other certificate from an institute of higher learning. However, trade-specific training can play an important role in their success.
Those interested in this field should initially work with others in the industry to help them learn the intricacies of the business. Working with a mentor or master tradesman can give new professionals the chance to learn about the techniques of woodworking, as well as the details of running a business.
Woodworkers may also find themselves at risk for job-related injuries, as much of the equipment used to create beautiful designs can also carry a high risk of injury. On-the-job training, which teaches new woodworkers the proper means of using woodworking tools like power tools, table saws, jigsaws, and routers, as well as the standard industry safety precautions, can give them a good start in the field and help avoid injury.
Although particular degrees or certifications are not required, they can help you attract potential customers. The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America can be a good place to get started when looking for certification options.
Preparing to Start Your Woodworking Business
The first step in forming a profitable business involves creating your business plan. As you start to build your organization, you want to have a business plan to provide you with clear direction and give you reminders about your vision. A business plan can help guide your decisions. It also benefits the business if you find yourself in need of a business loan in the future, as lenders often want to see the business plan as a part of the application process.
Know What You Want to Sell and to Whom
To create a business plan, you need to identify the target market you want to reach. Woodworkers create a variety of different wood products, including cabinets, home decor, and custom furniture. Others prefer to work with specialty items, such as antiques, that require care and precision to preserve the original wood as much as possible.
Consider the type of work you want to do and the customer base for that type of craftsmanship.
Consider Financial Matters
The next part of your business plan should focus on the financial part of the equation. You need to consider your startup costs. To determine your startup costs, you will need to calculate:
- The cost of the specialty machinery you'll need to do your woodworking
- The rent or mortgage associated with the wood shop where you will work
- The cost of shipping products to customers
- The amount you will need to pay in insurance
- What you need to spend on other workspace needs, such as air filters and safety equipment
Using the information you have gathered about your costs, research common pricing for woodworkers and carpentry professionals creating similar products and services in your area. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median hourly pay for woodworkers is $16.23. As you build your business, you may choose to set prices based on an hourly rate or based on the project.
Beginning Your Woodworking Business
Now that you have a new business plan in place, you can move forward with your woodworking business idea. Taking care of the legal steps involved and marketing yourself can help you prepare to bring in your first customers.
Take Care of the Legal Tasks
The first step in creating a legal business is to determine your name. You want your name to reflect your business and help people remember you. At the same time, you shouldn't repeat a name that is already used in your area. Research your local region's business names to make sure your selection is unique.
The next step will be to determine how you want your woodworking business to run. This includes choosing a business structure - such as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation - and establishing the rules that will govern decision-making and whose approval is needed in various situations. Check with your state government to learn what documentation is needed to legally form your business and if there's any fee for doing so.
After establishing your business as a legal entity, you'll want to figure out taxes. You might need an employer identification number (EIN) depending on your business structure. You can get an EIN for free using the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) online portal. This is also helpful when opening a business bank account. Check with your state and local tax authorities to see if you need any other tax ID numbers.
Take It to the Bank
You want to make sure your business has a bank account. Having a separate bank account will make it significantly easier to manage your taxes and track your business's finances. It also creates a clearer path for the IRS to know how much money is tied to your business if there's an audit.
Attract People to Your Business
The next step to running a successful business revolves around letting people know about your organization and what you can do for them. In other words, you need to market your woodworking business.
To get started, you'll want to create a memorable logo that helps capture your business and the services you offer. Do you primarily make cutting boards? Your logo should reflect that image. Whatever woodworking projects you do, make sure your logo shows that. However, if you don't feel confident in your graphic design capabilities, you can always work with a freelancer to create this image for you. There are many talent platforms online, such as Upwork.
Once you have your logo, you'll want to brand yourself clearly. Put this image on business cards and hand them out whenever possible. Any promotional materials you create should also include this logo. Help people see it and recognize it.
You'll also need to have a solid online presence. A lot of people search online when looking for local businesses to patronize. Make sure your website is there to greet them. Here are a few things you can do online:
- Create a professional website that highlights your services and showcases your past projects. Freelance web developers can help if you don't know how to create a website, or you can use an intuitive website builder like WordPress.
- Create social media profiles. Social media profiles are free and allow you to engage with customers across a variety of platforms. Create profiles not only on Facebook and LinkedIn but also on visual platforms, like Pinterest and Instagram, to display your wood projects and woodworking plans.
- Claim accounts on review sites. Look at popular sites like Google My Business and Yelp and set up your profiles so that you can respond to reviews - whether good or bad. The most important thing is just to engage customers.
Finally, one of the best forms of marketing for woodworkers is word of mouth. Encourage people who have been happy with your work to leave a review or refer you to others to help grow your business.
Managing Your Own Woodworking Business
As your woodworking business takes off and you land your first customers, you'll have a number of tasks and administrative responsibilities to take care of to keep your business running smoothly. This includes:
Tracking Your Estimates
When a potential customer approaches you about a woodworking job, they will likely ask for an estimate before securing the work. Fortunately, Skynova makes it easy to provide a professional-looking estimate with our template.
When you supply potential customers with an estimate, you can give them a set amount of time by which they need to decide, allowing you to track:
- Which estimates to follow up with
- Which estimates became paying customers
- A general idea of how much you can expect to be paid for your services or products
Tracking Your Flow of Money
To make sure your business performs well, you'll need to carefully track all the expenses and revenue generated by your business. Skynova offers multiple business templates and software products to help you:
- Send and track invoices
- Create receipts
- Create packing slips (if you have an online store)
- Create a bill of materials for any woodworking supplies needed
Keeping Up With Bookkeeping
You'll also need to keep a close eye on your business accounts to make sure that your bookkeeping is managed correctly. Skynova's accounting software can help you track your income, expenses, sales tax, and payments.
Time to Kick Off Your Business With Skynova
You likely already have the woodworking experience and skills to excel at building a small woodworking business but you also need to make sure you have administrative and accounting know-how. Skynova's software products were created with small businesses like yours in mind.
With templates that make processes like invoicing and estimating easier and accounting software that makes it easy to track your books, Skynova helps business owners like you simplify their administrative tasks. This gives you more time to focus on your woodworking business and peace of mind knowing that you can manage your bookkeeping with ease.