For many of our students, setting up shop as a furniture maker is a long-held dream. Opening a workshop and making beautiful pieces of furniture for appreciative customers – what could be better?
While this is certainly a reality for a lot of our graduates, they didn’t become successful furniture makers through being great woodworkers alone. They also spent time developing business skills to help them bring their dreams into fruition.
In addition to teaching those all-important woodworking skills, a large portion of our Professional course is devoted to teaching business skills, so that our students have a great chance of success after graduation. Here are some things would-be furniture makers will need to consider before starting a business.
A furniture maker, like any successful business owner, will need to develop a strong understanding of their audience. What kind of people will want to buy your products? How much money are they willing to spend?
Although every woodworker should have a unique design perspective, there may be opportunities to adapt your offering to appeal to a wider demographic.
Alternatively, homing in on a niche consumer looking for truly bespoke furniture might be a better focus, depending on the approach you choose to take.
After you know who you’re selling to, knowing where to sell is key. Will you be selling through existing vendors or working on bespoke commissions?
Based on your decision, you will need to learn more about these selling channels and understand how you can best position yourself.
Often, when new furniture makers first start out in business, they only want to devote energy to the projects that most excite them. This is totally understandable – we all like to spend time on the things we enjoy the most, don’t we?
However, spending too much time on passion projects can lead to unprofitable businesses. We want our students to succeed, so whilst we develop their talent in woodworking and design, we also instil in them an understanding of the value of time.
Developing a clear pricing structure, based on time, materials and business overheads will help you to turn a profit.
In a competitive space filled with creators and craftspeople, you need to shout about what makes you stand out. You can differentiate your business through an incredible design approach, an interesting backstory or even a special type of timber that’s used.
You can promote your business at every opportunity using online channels, social media and media outlets, weaving what makes you different into all communications.
Developing your woodworking techniques and enhancing your design skills will help you flourish as a furniture maker, but developing your business skills will help to make you a successful one.