A former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, has urged Nigerians to demand good governance and accountability from political leaders. Soludo made the call at “The Big Ideas Podium’’ with the theme “Nigeria: The Economics of Failure’’ of the African Heritage Institution (Afri-Heritage) in Enugu on Tuesday. He said that the…
Stories by Bimbola Oyesola
Despite the state of the country’s economy some businesses can not go out of fad and one of such is furniture business. Furniture is conspicuous and hardly will you enter an office or a home without seeing one kind of furniture or the other. What that implies is that as an investor you will never run out of order.
However, being a custom design furniture entrepreneur is different from every other furniture maker prevalent in our neighbourhood. It is adding class to the furniture business, creating a unique design that cannot be seen anywhere. It is giving your customers, products that would make their friends and neighbours ask who made the furniture for them that matters.
In the line of furniture, there are lots of opportunities, you have the office furniture, the kitchen, the sitting room, dinning set, wardrobes, dressing table, beds and so on. We should note here that the art of furniture is different from interior decoration. Though the country due to porous borders and negligence by some agencies of government is now subjected to a lot of substandard furniture, the difference is always clear for those locally made, as they tend to be stronger and more durable.
Hence investors can always be assured of good patronage. Another advantage is the availability of raw materials in the country as Nigeria is blessed with different kind of trees that are well sought after for furniture.Knowing how to start your own custom design furniture business is essential to any furniture designer. No matter whether you have a degree in Furniture Design and Manufacturing or have taught yourself how to design and manufacture unique pieces, if you have a good eye for what customers want and can tailor your designs to their needs, you have the foundation for starting your own custom design furniture business.
Besides being a skilled furniture designer and manufacturer, you will also need to know how to manage a business in order to make your start-up profitable.
The following are however essentials:
Find your niche
Decide specifically what kind of furniture you will create, such as home furnishings, office furniture or cabinetry. Specify the materials you intend to use, such as wood, metal and upholstery. Identify your target market. For example, decide if you will sell to residential, resort or commercial customers. Also, determine if you will sell only locally or if you will reach out to a broader market.
Every entrepreneur should invest time in writing a business plan. It commits your ideas and plans to writing and provides a road map to success. Often, woodworkers see themselves as artists devoted to their craft. As such, developing sound business practices may not come naturally to them. Further, they may view time devoted to business practices as detracting from the quality of their work. However, if you want your furniture-making business to be successful, you must invest time defining your marketing strategies, developing financial projections and organizing and managing your business.
Write a company description that explains the kind of furniture you make, how you make it, how you’re different from your competition and who you target customer is. Explain your market analysis. Describe how you have researched other furniture manufacturers and how your business fills a need in the market. Define your business structure, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation. This decision has important tax ramifications. Describe your product line, such as exactly what kinds of furniture you manufacture, what materials you use and how it benefits your customers. Explain how you plan to market your furniture business. This includes not only how you plan to advertise, but also how you plan to grow your business with new products or expansion into new markets. Supply financial projections for the next five years. This is especially important if you plan to finance some of your startup costs. Creditors will want to see your financial projections.
Perform a market analysis to assess the demand for your furniture. Identify your target market and their distinguishing characteristics and needs. Also, look at your competitors to find out what they don’t offer. This will tell you if your product fills a gap in the market. Finally, a market analysis studies appropriate pricing for your product and your target market.
Physical office or online
You may choose to rent a store front with a workshop and sell your furniture to walk-in customers. Alternatively, you might choose to develop a website and take only online orders. Or, you may choose to do both. Whichever option you choose impacts your decision about the physical location of your business. Also, it impacts the amount of money you need to start your business. However if you plan to open a physical store, find a space that suits your customers’ needs.
For example, if you are making custom cabinets, find a space that’s large enough to display different options. Or, if your target market is residential, choose a space that’s easy to find and accommodates parents with children and strollers. Also, consider your suppliers. Find a location to which your suppliers can easily ship.If you are going to do all of your business online, then you still need to find a location for your workshop. Find a space that’s big enough to complete your work efficiently and that’s convenient for your suppliers. Depending on the type of materials you need to keep on hand, you may also need a warehouse space. Choose one that is large enough for suppliers to easily pick up and drop off materials. Don’t choose your location based on the most affordable rent. Rather, choose the best location you can afford that attractively displays your furniture and efficiently accommodates your customers.
Register your business
You need to register your business with the Corporate Affairs Commission. Unlike before, Federal Government target of relapsing some obnoxious laws and making it easy to do business in the country now makes it possible to register company within 48 hours. You also need to obtain a federal tax identification number from the IRS, and check in with your state to determine if you need a state tax identification number. In the same vein, you need to structure your business. Choose a business structure, such as a corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship. The business structure you choose affects how you file your income taxes. Consult a certified public accountant (CPA), lawyer or other business advisor to help you make this decision.
Obtain licenses and permits
Every state requires some form of business or license to operate legally in that state. Visit the website of your state government to research what is required to open your furniture business in your state. Your state may have specific regulations about the location of your furniture making business. Also, familiarize yourself with state and federal consumer safety regulations.
Find funding sources. Choose from a variety of methods for funding your business. You may have enough in personal savings to invest in your business. Or, you might have friends, family or other business associates who would be willing to invest in your furniture making store. You would either make plans to pay back their loan or offer them a share in your company, depending on your business structure. Finally, you can finance your business with a loan.
9. Forecast your start-up expenses.
Accurately budgeting your start-up is crucial to making your business successful. Precisely itemizing your start-up expenses makes it easier to communicate with banks and investors. Also, it helps you to correctly forecast your profitability in the first year of your business, which has tax ramifications. Finally, your start-up expenses and any debt you incur become part of you financial projections for your business plan. Start-up expenses may differ from business to business, but include the following categories, expenses for structuring your business. If you have to consult a CPA or lawyer, include those expenses. Include fees for registering your business with your state and for obtaining your tax identification number with the IRS. Cost of obtaining licenses and permits and for complying with state and federal safety and environmental regulations. Purchase or lease of your business location. Purchase or lease of equipment. Purchase of start-up inventory. Before you ever make a sale, you will need to purchase materials such as wood, glass, metal and textiles to make your initial pieces of furniture. Others include, advertising and marketing expenses. Wages and benefits for your employees.
Whether you’ve been doing woodworking as a hobby in your home or have worked in a more commercial setting, you probably already own some equipment. However, if you plan to grow your business by offering new products or getting into a new market, you may need to upgrade your equipment. Don’t waste time and money rigging your already-existing equipment to make new pieces.
It is important you equip your shop with woodworking hand tools. Building fine furniture requires a number of hand tools for completing detail work. They can be expensive, so it’s daunting to think about investing in a lot of different hand tools.