How To Start A Furniture Business

Start A Furniture Business
💡 Introduction To Starting A Furniture Business
🎬 How To Start A Furniture Business
🚀 How To Launch Your Furniture Business
🌱 How To Grow Your Furniture Business
🏃🏼‍♀️ How To Run Your Furniture Business

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When it comes to starting your furniture business, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some big decisions.

You may be asking yourself:

  • What's the first step in establishing my business?
  • How much will it cost to start my furniture business?
  • How do I price my furniture business?
  • How do I market my furniture business?
  • ... so much more!

We walk you through all of the steps; from idea → starting → launching → growing → running your furniture business.

The purpose of this guide is to act as an outline for the steps you'll need to take to get your business running successfully!

market size
$480B
avg revenue (monthly)
$71.5K
starting costs
$30K
gross margin
45%
time to build
13 months
growth channels
SEO (blog posts, organic traffic from search engines), Word of mouth
business model
E-Commerce
best tools
Instagram, Shopify, Google Adwords
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
10 Pros & Cons
tips
13 Tips

💡 Introduction To Starting A Furniture Business

Is Starting A Furniture Business Right For You?

There are many factors to consider when starting a furniture business.

We put together the main pros and cons for you here:

Pros of starting a furniture business

• Flexibility

You can put as much time into the business as you'd like. If you like the work and have some initial experience, you can start small and manage all aspects of the business on your own.

• Ability to start your business from home

It's not necessary to have a physical storefront or office space to get your business started. You can do everything from the comfort of your own home, at least in the beginning!

• Rewarding work

Starting a furniture business can be really rewarding work. After all, you are solving an immediate issue for your customer and you're working on something you truly care about.

• Scalable

With businesses and processes changing daily, there will always be demand for new features, products and services within your furniture business. Additionally, there are several different business models and pricing tiers you can implement that will allow you to reach all types of customers.

• Meaningful business connections

You never know who you will meet or get to work with for your furniture business. This could be the start of an incredible business opportunity!

• High customer retention rates

Once a customer invests in your product, they've invested their time and energy to utilize your product/service which is highly valuable to them. Typically, your furniture business becomes an integral piece of their every day lives.

• High margins

The gross margins for your furniture business are typically around 45%, which is considerably high and allows you to grow your business and manage costs easily.

Cons of starting a furniture business

• Crowded Space

Competition is high when it comes to your furniture business, so it's important that you spend a good amount of time analyzing the market and understanding where the demand lies.

• Motivation of employees

If you plan to have a sales/content team on board, finding creative ways to motivate them can be a challenge. It's important that you're able to offer great incentives and a good work environment for your employees.

• Longer Sales Process

A furniture business can be a big time and money investment for your customer, so it's important you plan and predict a longer conversion funnel and stay in communication with potential customers.

Players

Big Players

Small Players

Search Interest

Let's take a look at the search trends for furniture over the last year:

How To Name Your Furniture Business

It's important to find a catchy name for your furniture business so that you can stand out in your space.

Here are some general tips to consider when naming your furniture business

  • Avoid hard to spell names: you want something easy to remember and easy to spell for your customers
  • Conduct a search to see if others in the space have the same name
  • Try not to pick a name that limits growth opportunities for your business (ie. if you decide to expand into other product lines)
  • As soon as you have an idea (or ideas) of a few names that you love, register the domain name(s) as soon as possible!

Why is naming your furniture business so important?

The name of your business will forever play a role in:

  • Your customers first impression
  • Your businesses identity
  • The power behind the type of customer your brand attracts
  • If you're memorable or not

It's important to verify that the domain name is available for your furniture business.

You can search domain availability here:

Find a domain starting at $0.88

powered by Namecheap

Although .com names are the most common and easiest to remember, there are other options if your .com domain name is not available. Depending on your audience, it may not matter as much as you think.

It's also important to thoroughly check if social media handles are available.

As soon as you resonate with a name (or names), secure the domain and SM handles as soon as possible to ensure they don't get taken.

Here's some inspiration for naming your furniture business:

  • The Used Piece Of Furniture Designs check availability
  • Mattress Co check availability
  • Sofas Collective check availability
  • Room Dinnerware check availability
  • Luxurious Hallstand check availability
  • Ornate Décor check availability
  • Modern Murphy Bed check availability
  • Beautiful Couch International check availability
  • Kitchen Cabinet Chronicles check availability
  • Pieces & Company check availability
  • Comfortable Mattress Works check availability
  • Ornate Wicker check availability
  • Much Cabinetry check availability
  • Cookware International check availability
  • Article Of Furniture Group check availability
  • Carpets Collective check availability
  • Flooring Collective check availability
  • The Movable Dresser & Company check availability
  • The Cheap Mattresses Collective check availability
  • Necessary Bedsteads check availability
  • The Cheap Carpets Works check availability
  • Dishware Group check availability
  • Valuable Dressers & Company check availability
  • Sofa Designs check availability
  • Plastic Bedspreads Group check availability
  • Shabby Settees check availability
  • Materiel Collective check availability
  • Suitable Loose Co check availability
  • The Enough Paneling Group check availability
  • Simple Housewares International check availability
  • Shabby Dcor Group check availability
  • Modern Pottery Chronicles check availability
  • Broken Piece Of Furniture check availability
  • Traditional Article Of Furniture International check availability
  • The Fine Greenware Works check availability
  • Bedspreads Collective check availability
  • The Ancient Wood Designs check availability
  • Scanty Dressers check availability
  • Beautiful Wainscotting Collective check availability
  • Only Furnishment Group check availability
  • The Traditional Wicker Works check availability
  • Bed Linen Works check availability
  • The Rich Dressers Chronicles check availability
  • Wedding Co check availability
  • Cabinetry Collective check availability
  • Polishes Chronicles check availability
  • The Valuable Bedspreads Works check availability
  • Wainscotting & Company check availability
  • Fashioned Cabinets check availability
  • The Modern Jewelry Collective check availability
  • Style Armoires Collective check availability
  • Traditional Chattels Collective check availability
  • Plastic Wedding International check availability
  • Magnificent Redecorating Chronicles check availability
  • The Covered Dresser Group check availability
  • Materiel Group check availability
  • The Plastic Carpets International check availability
  • The Wooden Moveable Works check availability
  • Wood Co check availability
  • The Necessary Millwork & Company check availability
  • Cookware Co check availability
  • Wood Group check availability
  • Refinishing Group check availability
  • French Chattels Co check availability
  • Antiques Works check availability
  • Scanty Millwork check availability
  • The Traditional Lawn Furniture International check availability
  • New Mattresses Co check availability
  • Couch Co check availability
  • Fine Wallcovering Works check availability
  • Equipment Co check availability
  • The Wooden Kitchen Works check availability
  • The Colonial Bed Linen & Company check availability
  • Mattresses & Company check availability
  • Piece Chronicles check availability
  • The Plastic Rugs & Company check availability
  • The Made Lawn Furniture & Company check availability
  • Little Equipment Group check availability
  • Lounge Chair Collective check availability
  • Old Drapery & Company check availability
  • Colonial Wallcovering Collective check availability
  • The Movable Hallstand Collective check availability
  • Wall Unit Chronicles check availability
  • Heavy Armoire Chronicles check availability
  • Valuable Supplies Works check availability
  • The Household Slipcovers Group check availability
  • Made Upholster Works check availability
  • Ornamental Wing Chair check availability
  • The Contemporary Wicker & Company check availability
  • Simple Lounge Chair International check availability
  • Used Bedsteads Designs check availability
  • The Movable Polishes Chronicles check availability
  • Scanty Sofas Designs check availability
  • The Elegant Furnishings Chronicles check availability
  • Furnishing Collective check availability
  • The Rustic Equipment Works check availability
  • The Ornate Bedding Co check availability
  • Cookware Group check availability
  • The Domestic Armoire & Company check availability
  • The Simple Pieces Chronicles check availability
  • The Original Wing Chair Designs check availability
  • Heavy Flatware Group check availability
  • Plain Greenware & Company check availability
  • Fashioned Tableware International check availability
  • Meubles Works check availability
  • Contemporary Cookware Group check availability
  • Italian Millwork Group check availability
  • Ornamental Antiques check availability
  • Woodworking Designs check availability
  • Lovely Household & Company check availability
  • Enough Appliances Designs check availability
  • Traditional Bedsteads check availability
  • The Polished Hallstand & Company check availability
  • The Luxurious Wallcovering Collective check availability
  • Meubles Chronicles check availability
  • Carved Greenware check availability
  • Plain Upholstering Chronicles check availability
  • The Necessary Carpets Co check availability
  • Knickknacks & Company check availability
  • The Carved Bedspreads Works check availability
  • Broken Flatware Works check availability
  • Contemporary Dressers check availability
  • Ancient Settees check availability
  • Interior Decoration Group check availability
  • Plain Ironmongery Works check availability
  • Familiar Wallcovering check availability
  • Broken Wedding & Company check availability
  • Hand Wall Unit check availability
  • The Much Murphy Bed International check availability
  • Lumber Chronicles check availability
  • The Metal Ironmongery & Company check availability
  • Crockery & Company check availability
  • Dcor Designs check availability
  • Little Cabinet & Company check availability
  • The Traditional Bedsteads & Company check availability
  • Dinnerware & Company check availability
  • The Comfortable Upholster International check availability
  • The Style Decoration Group check availability
  • Necessary Sofa Co check availability
  • Furnishings Works check availability
  • Made Dcor Works check availability
  • Rattan Paneling Group check availability
  • The Lovely Wedding Collective check availability
  • Movable Carpets check availability
  • Beautiful Carpets check availability
  • The Luxurious Knickknacks Chronicles check availability
  • Broken Clothing International check availability
  • Little Sofas International check availability
  • The Mental Side Chair Designs check availability
  • Familiar Cabinet Designs check availability
  • Upholstering Collective check availability
  • Movable Ottomans Designs check availability
  • The Upholstered Movables International check availability
  • Handmade Fittings International check availability
  • Modern Polishes Works check availability
  • The Simple Movable International check availability
  • Lounge Chair International check availability
  • The Little Decoration Works check availability
  • Cheap Side Chair & Company check availability
  • Mental Drapery Works check availability
  • The Handsome Murphy Bed & Company check availability
  • Linens & Company check availability
  • The Old Armoire Designs check availability
  • The Old Cabinet Designs check availability
  • The Little Redecorating Co check availability
  • Furnishings Designs check availability
  • Appliances Co check availability
  • Paneling & Company check availability
  • The Handmade Lawn Furniture Chronicles check availability
  • Refinishing Works check availability
  • Antique Lounge Chair check availability
  • The Rich Dressers International check availability
  • Chattels Chronicles check availability
  • The Shabby Dcor Works check availability
  • Household International check availability
  • Lounge Chair & Company check availability
  • The Metal Ironmongery International check availability
  • The New Rugs Chronicles check availability
  • The Grave Pieces Chronicles check availability
  • Handmade Furnishing Group check availability
  • Enough Linens check availability
  • Massive Flatware check availability
  • Carved Armoire Collective check availability
  • Elegant Equipment check availability
  • Housewares Designs check availability
  • The Broken Movables & Company check availability
  • Handsome Appliances Works check availability
  • The Only Tile International check availability
  • The Light Wainscotting & Company check availability
  • Secondhand Drywall check availability
  • The Polished Pieces Chronicles check availability
  • Grave Armoires Chronicles check availability
  • Century Drapery Group check availability
  • The Light Appliances Collective check availability
  • The Scanty Dinnerware Designs check availability
  • Used Piece check availability
  • Lovely Moveable check availability
  • Comfortable Dressers check availability
  • The Valuable Pieces Co check availability
  • English Flatware Works check availability
  • Interior Decoration International check availability
  • Redecorating Collective check availability
  • Covered Settees check availability
  • French Kitchen Collective check availability
  • Italian Tableware Group check availability
  • Sofa Chronicles check availability
  • The Plain Futon Chronicles check availability
  • The English Armoires Chronicles check availability
  • Enough Upholstery check availability
  • Drywall Works check availability
  • Light Meubles check availability
  • The Valuable Upholstery Collective check availability
  • Linens Collective check availability
  • Broken Lawn Furniture Works check availability
  • Handsome Drapery International check availability
  • Domestic Supplies Collective check availability
  • The Costly Pieces Chronicles check availability
  • Simple Bed Linen Works check availability
  • Massive Décor check availability
  • Metal Sofa Designs check availability
  • Rustic Piece check availability
  • Century Drapery & Company check availability
  • French Armoire & Company check availability
  • The Ornamental Millwork Group check availability
  • The Plastic Pottery & Company check availability
  • Room Flooring Co check availability
  • Interior Decoration Works check availability
  • Familiar Armoire check availability
  • Only Carpets Collective check availability
  • Only Movables check availability
  • The Room Mobilier Designs check availability
  • Polishes Group check availability
  • Old Household Group check availability
  • Familiar Movable Chronicles check availability
  • Rattan Bedspreads Chronicles check availability
  • Cheap Equipment Works check availability
  • The Modern Linens Chronicles check availability
  • Upholstered Couch Group check availability
  • The Fashioned Greenware Co check availability
  • Nice Upholstery Co check availability
  • French Lumber check availability
  • The Lovely Countertops & Company check availability
  • Beautiful Flooring Chronicles check availability
  • The Lovely Lawn Furniture Group check availability
  • Plain Housewares check availability
  • Overstuffed Loose check availability
  • Handsome Night Table Co check availability
  • The Colonial Pottery Co check availability
  • Traditional Dresser check availability
  • Antique Bed Linen check availability
  • Heavy Tile & Company check availability
  • Room Sofas & Company check availability
  • Domestic Décor Group check availability
  • Lovely Chattels International check availability
  • Household Upholster Chronicles check availability
  • Covered Bedspreads Works check availability
  • Metal Clothing & Company check availability
  • Contemporary Antiques International check availability
  • Covered Side Chair check availability
  • The Familiar Fittings Co check availability
  • Splendid Ironmongery Group check availability
  • Plastic Polishes check availability
  • The Functional Appliances & Company check availability
  • Original Bedspreads Works check availability
  • The Fine Greenware & Company check availability
  • The Luxurious Futon Group check availability
  • The Carved Equipment International check availability
  • Household Mobilier & Company check availability
  • The Beautiful Dressers Designs check availability
  • Solid Paneling & Company check availability
  • The French Fittings Works check availability
  • Valuable Flatware Designs check availability
  • Antique Sofas check availability
  • The Only Pieces International check availability
  • Contemporary Upholster check availability
  • Made Futon check availability
  • Overstuffed Wing Chair check availability
  • Colonial Mattresses check availability
  • Elegant Millwork check availability
  • Fine Bedsteads Group check availability
  • Splendid Cabinet check availability
  • The Overstuffed Bedspreads Collective check availability
  • Crockery Collective check availability
  • Ornamental Cabinets check availability
  • FashionedFittings check availability
  • Carpentry Pro check availability
  • Only check availability
  • Ornate Sofa check availability
  • The Domestic check availability
  • The Rattan Lumber Place check availability
  • The Mental check availability
  • HandsomeChronicles check availability
  • Rich Furnishings Co check availability
  • Colonial Upholstery check availability
  • The Fashioned Furnishing Trading Co check availability
  • Cabinets Trading Co check availability
  • Victorian Fittings Designs check availability
  • Heavy Decoration Group check availability
  • Wooden Sofa Co check availability
  • MetalGroup check availability

Read our full guide on naming your furniture business ➜

How To Create A Slogan For Your Furniture Business:

Slogans are a critical piece of your marketing and advertising strategy.

The role of your slogan is to help your customer understand the benefits of your product/service - so it's important to find a catchy and effective slogan name.

Often times, your slogan can even be more important than the name of your brand.

Here are 6 tips for creating a catchy slogan for your furniture business:

1. Keep it short, simple and avoid difficult words

A great rule of thumb is that your slogan should be under 10 words. This will make it easy for your customer to understand and remember.

2. Tell what you do and focus on what makes you different

There are a few different ways you can incorporate what makes your business special in your slogan:

  • Explain the target customer you are catering your services towards
  • What problem do you solve?
  • How do you make other people, clients, or your employer look good?
  • Do you make people more successful? How?

3. Be consistent

Chances are, if you're coming up with a slogan, you may already have your business name, logo, mission, branding etc.

It's important to create a slogan that is consistent with all of the above.

4. Ensure the longevity of your slogan

Times are changing quickly, and so are businesses.

When coming up with your slogan, you may want to consider creating something that is timeless and won't just fade with new trends.

5. Consider your audience

When finding a catchy slogan name, you'll want to make sure that this resonates across your entire audience.

It's possible that your slogan could make complete sense to your audience in Europe, but may not resonate with your US audience.

6. Get feedback!

This is one of the easiest ways to know if your slogan will be perceived well, and a step that a lot of brands drop the ball on.

Ask friends, family, strangers, and most importantly, those that are considered to be in your target market.

🎬 How To Start A Furniture Business

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Startup Costs For Your Furniture Business

If you are planning to start a furniture business, the costs are relatively low. This, of course, depends on if you decide to start the business with lean expenses or bringing in a large team and spending more money.

We’ve outlined two common scenarios for “pre-opening” costs of a furniture business and outline the costs you should expect for each:

  • The estimated minimum starting cost = $1,492
  • The estimated maximum starting cost = $53,569
Startup Expenses: Average expenses incurred when starting a furniture business. Min Startup Costs: You plan to execute on your own. You’re able to work from home with minimal costs. Max Startup Costs: You have started with 1+ other team members.
Employee & Freelancer Expenses
Payroll: This number depends on if you decide to pay yourself a salary upfront and how many employees you have on payroll. At first, many founders take on all responsibilities until the business is up and running. You can always hire down the road when you understand where you need help. Keep in mind, if you do plan to pay yourself, the average salary founders make is $50K. $0 $4,000
IT Support: You may find yourself needing IT support when starting your business. It may not be possible (or necessary) for you to hire someone full-time, but hiring on a freelancer platform such as Upwork is a great way to save money and resources. $0 $500
Other Employee Expenses: Aside from payroll and benefits, there are other costs associated with hiring employees. This includes the cost to advertise the job, the time it takes to interview candidates, and any potential turnover that may result from hiring the wrong candidate. $0 $1,000
Employee Reward Ideas: It's important to recognize and reward employees - whether they hit their goals or are doing an exceptional job. This doesn't have to cost you a lot - simply taking them out to lunch, giving them a gift card or offering a pay-check bonus are all ways to recognize your employee! Here are 65 ways to reward your employees. $0 $500
Total Employee & Freelancer Expenses $0 (min) $6,000 (max)
Website Costs
Website builder: The cost of your website will vary depending on which platform you choose. There are many website builders on the market, so it's important you choose the right one for your business and overall goals. To learn more about your options + how to build a great website, check out this article. $15 $100
Web Designer: If you have the necessary skills to design your website, then it may not be necessary for you to hire someone. However, if you do decide to go that route, make sure you establish an understanding of upfront cost, design and what the ongoing costs will be to manage the site. Here is what to expect when hiring a web designer. $0 $6,000
Email hosting: Email is a critical piece for running your business. Once you have your domain name, you will want to set up email accounts for each user on your team. The most common email hosts are GSuite (typically starting at $6+ per user, per month) or Microsoft Office (typically starting at $5+ per user, per month). The number of email accounts you set up will determine the monthly cost breakdown. $5 $75
Register Your Domain: Once you decide the name of your business, you will need to make sure the URL is available and purchase the domain. You can check availability and register your domain here. $12 $75
Server Hosting: To start a furniture business, you will need to set up and manage a server. The cost for this is typically billed monthly and depends on the platform you choose (typically ranging anywhere from $0-$50/mo). $0 $50
Website chat function: If customer service is a big piece of your business, you will want to consider implementing a chat bot on your website. Typically, there are different tiers of pricing and some businesses even offer freemium services. To find what chat software is best for your business, check out this guide. $0 $75
Total Website Costs $32 (min) $6,375 (max)
Business Formation Fees
Small Business Insurance: Depending on which state you live in and the business you're operating, the costs and requirements for small business insurance vary. You can learn more here. $500 $2,000
Trademarking: Filing trademark registration will protect your brand and prevent other businesses from copying your name or product. USPTO has several different types of trademarks, so the cost to apply can vary (typically anywhere from $400-$700). $0 $700
Permit and License Fees: Depending on your industry, there are certain licenses and permits you may need in order to comply with state, local, and federal regulations. Here is an article that goes over all the permits and licenses you may need for your furniture business. $50 $700
Lawyer Fees: Although you may want to avoid attorney fees, it's important that your business (and you) are covered at all costs. This comes into play when creating founder agreements, setting up your business legal structure, and of course, any unforeseen circumstances that may happen when dealing with customers or other businesses. $0 $1,500
Set up business: LLC & Corporations: The first step in setting up your business is deciding whether your business is an LLC, S Corp or C Corp. The cost for this depends on which state you form your business + which structure you decide on. We put together an article that goes over the 10 Steps To Setting Up A Business. $50 $500
Obtain a patent: Securing a patent can be a very valuable tool, but it's important that you are 100% sure this will be a smart business move for you, or if you may not be ready quite yet. A basic utility patent typically costs anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 to file. Here is a great resource to walk you through the entire process. $0 $10,000
Total Business Formation Fees $600 (min) $15,400 (max)
Retail Business Expenses
Shop Decor: If you plan to operate a physical store, you may want to consider decorating the place with wall decor, furniture, plants etc. $0 $5,000
Utilities (storefront business): This refers to the cost of monthly utilities for your storefront location, which is typically based on a per-square-footage rate. $0 $1,000
Total Retail Business Expenses $0 (min) $6,000 (max)
Inventory Expenses
Upfront Costs For Inventory: This includes all upfront inventory you will need in order to launch. Be sure to compare prices of wholesalers to ensure you're getting the best deal and margins remain high. $300 $5,000
Inventory Storage: If you decide to have a physical space for your furniture business, whether it be used for inventory or as a showroom, you may have monthly rent payment or a large down payment associated with renting/buying the space. $0 $5,000
Total Inventory Expenses $300 (min) $10,000 (max)
Equipment & Supply Expenses
Cleaning Supplies: To get started, you may want to consider getting basic cleaning supplies. Note, that you may not need to buy all the cleaning tools and supplies at first. You can consider purchasing in bulk down the road. $25 $500
Technology Office Equipment: This includes (but is not limited to) physical items such as: laptops, cameras, monitors, microphones, speakers, headsets. Technology needs grow as your company evolves, so to minimize costs, try and only purchase what is needed for you to run your business at the time. $500 $5,000
Total Equipment & Supply Expenses $525 (min) $5,500 (max)
Software Expenses
Design Programs & Software: These programs might include the Adobe family of design tools: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and others. This is typically a monthly subscription ranging from $10-$50/mo. $0 $50
CRM Software: CRM (customer relationship management) software is used to track your company’s interactions with clients and prospects. Although this is not a necessary tool to have for your furniture business, implementing this in the beginning may set your business up for success and save you a lot of time later on. For a full list of best CRMs to use for your business, check out the full list here. $0 $250
Project Management Software: You may want to consider using a project management and collaboration tool to organize your day-to-day. This can also be very beneficial if you have a larger team and want to keep track of everyones tasks and productivity. For a full list of project management tools, check out this full list here. $0 $25
Internal Communication Tool: If you plan to have multiple members on your team, you may want to consider an instant message tool such as Slack or Telegram. The cost is usually billed per month (approx $5/user/month) or there are freemium versions available on many platforms. $0 $20
Social Media Management Tools: If you plan to do social media marketing for your furniture business, you should consider investing in a social media automation or publishing tool. This will save you time and allow you to track performance and engagement for your posts. Here is a list of 28 best social media tools for your small business. $0 $50
Accounting & Invoicing Software: When starting your furniture business, it's important to have an accounting system and process in place to manage financials, reporting, planning and tax preparation. Here are the 30 best accounting tools for small businesses. $0 $50
Email marketing tool: If you plan to grow your email list and email marketing efforts, you may want to consider investing in an email marketing platform (ie. Klaviyo, MailChimp). We put together a detailed guide on all of the email marketing tools out there + the pricing models for each one here $0 $100
Online data storage: It's important to make sure the information for your furniture business is stored and protected should something happen to your computer or hard drive. The cost for this is affordable and depends on how much data you need to store. To learn more about the different options and pricing on the market, check out this article. $0 $299
Payroll Software: The main purpose of payroll software is to help you pay your team and track each of those payments (so that you don't have to do it manually). If you do not have any employees or have a very small team, payroll software may not be necessary at this stage. Here are the 11 best payroll tools for small businesses! $0 $200
Total Software Expenses $0 (min) $1,044 (max)
Office Space Expenses
Rent: This refers to the office space you rent out for your business. To minimize costs, you may want to consider starting your business from home or renting an office in a coworking space. $0 $2,000
Utility Costs (office space): This refers to the first month's utility bill for your office space. If you are not responsible for this bill, this would not apply to starting your furniture business. $0 $150
Office Supplies: Although these may seem like minor costs, things like your desks, chairs, pens, paper, filing cabinets do add up. To avoid these adding up too much, try to be as lean as possible and go paperless! $25 $1,000
WiFi: Whether you work from home or in an office space, WiFi is an expense that's tough to avoid. Although the cost is minimal in most cases, it should be appropriately budgeted for each month! $10 $100
Total Office Space Expenses $35 (min) $3,250 (max)
Total Starting Costs $1,492 (min) $53,569 (max)

Raising Money For Your Furniture Business

Here are the most common ways to raise money for your furniture business:

What Skills Do I Need To Succeed For My Furniture Business?

With a furniture business, there are several essential skills and characteristics that are important to identify prior to starting your business.

Let’s look at these skills in more detail so you can identify what you need to succeed in your day-to-day business operations:

Advice For Starting A Furniture Business

We've interviewed thousands of successful founders at Starter Story and asked what advice they would give to entrepreneurs who are just getting started.

Here's the best advice we discovered for starting a furniture business:

John Humphreys, founder of Humphreys ($37K/month):

A business is a linear progression that requires constant effort.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Carl Benson, founder of Suffolk Latch Company ($70K/month):

When building a business there are always mistakes made, but the key thing is to learn from those mistakes and see them as a opportunity rather than a failure.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Greg Hayes, founder of Branch Furniture ($300K/month):

You need great cofounders. I can’t even imagine having tried to build this business on my own. Find people with complementary skills.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Suzan Allen, founder of French Italian LLC ($/month):

Always remember, your plan might change from time to time but the end game will always remain the same.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Michael Hillel, founder of SunHaven ($0/month):

In my last year of law school, my best friend suddenly passed away. That loss forced me to take a step back to think hard about the direction I wanted my life to take.

Read the full interview ➜

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James Wolfer, founder of Valhalla Wood Forge ($8.5K/month):

Do your homework if you’re going to use outside marketing agencies, and don’t take shortcuts.

Read the full interview ➜

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Wes O’Donnell, founder of Modern Workspace ($13.4K/month):

Learn as much as you can from other people’s mistakes and don’t get discouraged if your still not profitable after the first year. You are not alone. Persistence is the name of the game in eCommerce.

Read the full interview ➜

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Write a Business Plan

Writing a business plan from the start is critical for the success of your furniture business.

Why?

Because this allows you to roadmap exactly what you do, what your overall structure will look like, and where you want to be in the future.

For many entrepreneurs, writing out the business plan helps validate their idea and decide whether or not they should move forward with starting the business.

You may want to consider expanding upon these sections in your business plan:

  • Executive Summary: Brief outline of your product, the market, and growth opportunities
  • Overviews and Objectives: Overview of your business, target customers, and what you need to run your business
  • Products and Services: Specifics on the products and services your business will provide
  • Market Opportunities: Analysis of customer demographics, buyer habits and if your product is in demand
  • Marketing: Outline of your marketing plan and how you plan to differentiate yourself from other customers
  • Competitive analysis: Analysis of your competition and the strengths and weaknesses therein
  • Operations: Hierarchal structure of the company and what it will take to run the business on the day-to-day
  • Leadership Team: Detailing roles and responsibilities of each manager based on their specific skill-set
  • Financial Analysis Understanding of all expenses, operating budgets, and projections for the future.

Learn more about how to write a business plan here

Determine Which Business Bank Account You Need

There are hundreds of banks out there, and it can be overwhelming to find one that's right for your business.

Here are some factors you may want to consider:

  • Location - Is your bank close enough that you can easily make deposits or get cash?
  • Low Fees - Make sure to understand any and all fees associated with setting up and maintaining your bank account. Ask for a list - banks usually try to keep this hidden and in the fine print.
  • Online Banking Services - Make sure you can easily navigate through your online portal and you have easy access to everything you need.
  • Line of Credit - What do your options look like (even if you don't need this now, you may need this down the road).
  • Every bank has something that differentiates them from the rest, so make sure whatever that is applied to your needs and values.

Check out this list of the 13 Best Banks for Small Business in 2020 and what makes them so unique.

When it comes to setting up your business, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some financial and legal decisions.

The first thing you'll want to decide on is whether you want to be an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp.

These three options are found to be the most common when starting a small business, and all serve to protect your personal assets and also provide you with certain tax benefits.

  • LLC: All income and expenses from the business are reported on the LLC personal income tax return.
  • S corp: Owners pay themselves salaries + receive dividends from profits.
  • C Corp: C Corps are separately taxable entities that file a corporate tax return (Form 1120). No income tax is paid at the corporate level and any tax due is paid at the owners individual expense.

Depending on where you're conducting business, you'll also want to consider securing the proper permits, licenses and liability insurance.

Learn more about securing the right permits and licenses ➜

Need to start an LLC? Create an LLC in minutes with ZenBusiness.

How Do I Pay Myself As A Small Business Owner?

Most entrepreneurs start a business to do something they love- but at the end of the day, you still have bills to pay (maybe now more than ever).

But it's important to strike the right balance - if you pay yourself too much, you could be putting your business at risk.

There are two common ways to pay yourself as a business owner:

1. Owner's Draw

Many entrepreneurs pay themselves through an owner's draw. This means that you are technically sean as "self-employed" through the eyes of the IRS and are not paid through regular wages.

At the point that you collect money from the draw, taxes typically are not taken out - so make sure you are prepared to pay these taxes once you file your individual return.

As an owner who takes a draw, you can legally take out as much as you want from your equity.

This type of compensation is suited for Sole props, LLCs, and partnerships. If you’re an S corp, you can pay yourself through both a salary and draw if you choose.

2. Salary

If you decide to pay yourself a salary, you will receive a set and recurring amount. This will be taxed by the federal government and the state you reside in.

The reality is that it can be really complicated to set your own salary, so we have some tips for you to consider:

  • Take out a reasonable amount that allows you to live comfortably but also sets your business up for success
  • Consider the number of hours you are working weekly + the type of duties you are performing.
  • Set your salary based on your industry-standard, location, and profits (or projected profits)
  • Look at your P&L statement: Deduct your own pay from that amount. This is important so you can first tackle important business expenses, and then pay yourself from the amount leftover.
  • Pick a payroll schedule (and stick to it)! In the US, it's most common to pay yourself and employees twice a month.

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To learn more about how to pay yourself and what is a reasonable amount, check out this article.

How To Price Your Furniture

One of the most challenging and critical pieces to starting your furniture business is determining how much to charge for your furniture.

When businesses under-price their product, this can be extremely detrimental to their bottom line and reputation.

Often times, businesses under-price their products to drive demand and volume, but that last thing you want is for customers to view your product/service as "cheap." Additionally, this can have a big impact on the type of customer you attract, which can be difficult to recover from.

On the other hand, when businesses over-price, this tends to be just as damaging to the business.

When customers buy, it's likely that they will explore the internet and look at other competitors to ensure they're getting the best value + deal. This is why it's so important that you research your competition and understand where you land in the marketplace.

Here are some factors to consider when pricing your product:

Understand your customer

It's important that out of the gates, you identify the type of customer you want to attract and how much they're willing to pay for your service. One great way to do this is by surveying your customers. Here are some important items you'll want to takeaway:

  • Customer demographic: Age, gender, location, etc.
  • Buying habits of your customer: What they buy + when they buy
  • Level of price sensitivity with your customer

All of these segments will help you identify the type of customer you're attracting and how to price your product accordingly.

Understand your costs

When pricing your furniture, it's critical that you first identify all of your costs and consequently mark up your furniture so you can factor in a profit.

The actual cost of your furniture may include things like:

  • The actual cost to make the product (ie. raw materials, supplies, manufacturer).
  • Shipping + overhead fees
  • Rent
  • Operating costs to run your business

You may want to consider creating a spreadsheet with every single expense involved in operating/owning your business. This will give you an idea as to what you need to generate in order to at the very least, break-even and will help you price your products to factor in a profit.

Create revenue goals

When determining the price of your furniture, you'll want to create goals for revenue + how much profit you want your furniture business to make.

This process is simpler than you may think:

  1. Think about your breakeven cost (by completing the above step).
  2. Create a revenue goal based on your break-even cost
  3. Evaluate the # of items you plan to sell in a given period (make sure this is a realistic number)
  4. Divide your revenue goal by the number of items you plan to sell

This figure will help determine your estimated price per product in order to meet your revenue goals.

Evaluate your competition

The last piece in determining how to price your furniture is by simply looking at your competition.

The best way to do this is by finding like-minded businesses that offer product(s) with similar perceived value. Then, you can compare prices of the different businesses and determine where your furniture fits best in the marketplace.

All of these factors play an equal part in pricing your furniture, so it's important you evaluate each one individually to come up with an accurate price that will help optimize your business from the start.

Understanding Your Costs

Example from Ishan, founder of Ugly Duckling

First objective: profitability

Our profitability is OK at this point but definitely not where it should be yet. To this day I have not paid myself a regular salary yet...and it’s been 4 years!

The problem is not the cost of goods which are well under 20% of sales, which is good by any standard. The problem is fulfillment costs. In 2018 we transitioned from our first fulfillment company to a much bigger company. We did this because we wanted to provide faster shipment speeds and a better quality of packaging. In hindsight, we chose a company which would have been more suitable for a larger company with bigger volumes. We ended up being tied in with some pretty large minimum monthly payments. So currently fulfillment costs are currently around 45% of sales...way too high.

We are now looking to transit to another fulfillment center. Our target is to get our fulfillment costs down to around 30% of sales which I believe from what I have researched, is possible.

Just to be clear, when I say fulfillment that includes transportation costs also - FedEx, USPS, etc. Not just storage, picking, and packing. I am pretty sure that it is possible to get fulfillment costs down even lower, and I suspect that some large pro sellers on amazon.com work with around 20-25% of sales.

So our target P+L for 2020 looks something like this:

  • Cost of goods, including inbound freight and clearance - around 22% of sales.
  • Fulfillment - around 30% of sales.
  • Digital Advertising & Promotion - around 15% of sales.
  • Other marketing and office costs, including salary costs - around 10% of sales.
  • That would leave us around 23% of sales - enough to pay me a liveable salary and for the company to make a profit and finance future growth.

That's the first objective for 2020: to right-size the P+L so that we are profitable at our current sales level

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Ishan Dutta, on starting Ugly Duckling ($50,000/month) full story ➜

Design A Prototype

Turning your idea into a reality can feel like a daunting task - but it's critical that you have an idea of what your product will look like (even if it's just a sketch) prior to finding a manufacturer.

Here are some common ways you can design your prototype:

  • Draw Your Initial Design on Paper
  • Form pieces of fabric together
  • Consider Taking A Generic Product And Putting Your Own Brand On It
  • Try Making the Product Yourself
  • Consider Building A Prototype With A 3D Printer

To learn more about how to design and prototype a product, check out our latest guide here.

John Humphreys, founder of Humphreys dives deep into the process of designing and prototyping their product:

The first product we designed was the chair. It was slow to get started because there was a huge intimidation factor. I did the classic, “I’ll do it tomorrow” thing. I didn’t feel confident and certainly didn’t think I was capable. Although I wanted to do it, I delayed it out of fear.

A business is a linear progression that requires constant effort.

A friend approached me and told me to do it now. She invited me to stay with her and her family who had a billiard manufacturer in Ontario in a town called Goderich. This is where we set out on a novice adventure to build this chair. We had paper sketches and cheap Walmart mock-ups of the seat and that began a year and a half process that I thought would take 3 months.

During that process, we were faced with parts that didn’t fit, seats that broke, holes a millimeter off, and fasteners that didn’t suit the idea or design. What seemed like a simple process proved to be very challenging. We ended up manufacturing our own screws with a company out of Chicago to get it where we wanted it to be. A major challenge was the seat itself.

We found it to be terribly uncomfortable. Fixing that at a later stage of the process was very frustrating. The solution required us to change the shape to something not wishful but was practical and comfortable. Initially, I despised the need but with some tweaks, it became one of my favorite features of the chair. So to close, you could say it was a long task that forced me to face fears, incompetence, and ignorance.

my-story-starting-a-400k-year-handcrafted-furniture-business

my-story-starting-a-400k-year-handcrafted-furniture-business

The process forced me to continue to problem solve and to never waiver from the obsessive desire to see something come to life that is not only beautiful but functional and comfortable. I firmly believed it needed all of these features or it didn't belong in the world. And that delayed the process but in the end, we did it.

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John Humphreys, on starting Humphreys ($37,000/month) full story ➜

How To Find A Supplier For Your Furniture Business

Here are the steps to consider when finding a supplier/manufacturer:

Know your design

One very critical step to finding the right supplier is having an initial idea of what your design/product will look like.

Sketching is one of the most simple ways to get started in the design phase.

What's great about sketching is that you can practically do this anytime, anywhere - even on the back of a napkin.

To get started, all you need to do is pick up a pen and paper and start drawing - or if you are working on a virtual/software product this can be a diagram that outlines the user interface or experience.

Decide your supplier type

You'll want to identify the type of supplier you are looking for.

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself prior to searching for a supplier

  • Are you looking for a manufacturer to produce your product idea?
  • Do you want to find a supplier that can simply purchase existing products for you?
  • Do you want a drop-shipper to supply and fulfill orders?
  • Do you want a domestic supplier or an overseas supplier? Read more about the pros and cons of each here

Where to start your search

Once you have an understanding of what type of manufacturer/supplier will be best to bring your idea to life, there are several areas you can start your search:

Domestic Suppliers

Overseas Suppliers

Manufacturing Your Product In House

It's also very common to manufacture your furniture on your own - either from your home or in a commercial space.

In order to get the product right, you may want to consider experimenting with different designs and recipes until you find the perfect one.

Some founders choose to manufacture their product in-house so that they can control quality, manage costs, and easily handle production/logistics.

Down the road, you can always choose to outsource your furniture.

Leslie Eisen, founder of AlmondClear discusses how to manufacture products in house

If you want to start a line of unique products, then you have two basic options: you can make them yourself, or you can find a manufacturer to work with that creates custom formulations for their clients.

I knew that I was trying to build a larger-scale business and that the home-made model wasn’t right for me, so I had to find the right manufacturing partner. It took a lot of research, phone calls, and emails before I found the laboratory that met my needs.

I wanted to create unique products (as opposed to private label), so I worked with the manufacturer’s chemist who specializes in skin care formulations. This process takes some time!

First, you have to tell the chemist what kind of product you’re looking for, the ingredients that you want to include or leave out, and what you want the final product to look like/feel like/smell like, etc.

Then, the manufacturer sends you the first sample, you try it out or give it to others to try, and then provide feedback for revisions. In my case, the first two products came together fairly easily because I only needed to make small changes to stock formulations.

There are many, many rules and regulations around cosmetics and skin care products. If you want to sell products that contain FDA regulated ingredients then you have to register and get a permit.

My products aren’t FDA regulated, so I didn’t have to go through this step, but I did have to be aware of the many guidelines and standards around labeling and safety warnings. Some people hire a lawyer to help them through this process, but my manufacturer was able to guide me through the regulatory process.

The entire process, from researching labs to work with to having the first finished products shipped out to me, took around six months.

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Leslie Eisen, on starting AlmondClear ($15,000/month) full story ➜

Purchasing Inventory For Your Furniture Business

When first starting out, it's important to start small with your overhead to get a gauge for what people want.

Just remember - if you order a line of items that don't sell, it's nearly impossible to recoup the money lost.

Buying the right inventory takes research and planning in order to get it right.

  1. Identify your target audience: Identify the age, gender, annual income that you will be selling to. This is a defining factor in ordering the right inventory that will sell.
  2. Research your competition: Conduct market research and identify the different types of styles, price points, and materials being used. This will help you see what's trending and ways that you can improve/stay ahead of the competition.
  3. Create an inventory wishlist: Identify what you need for the launch of your business and create a budget that you will stay within. Remember, it's okay to start small.
  4. Find a supplier Make sure to first compare prices and analyze different options.
  5. Delivery timing: Schedule the inventory delivery to match with seasonality and trending buying seasons

Pro-tip: It's easy to become biased based on your own fashion preferences on what types of shoes/apparel to purchase. This is where a lot of fashion businesses go wrong. It's important to base purchase decisions on current buyer behavior, trends in the market, and specific to your niche.

Erin Hooley, founder of Bailey's Blossoms tells us how poor inventory projections led her to lose over $2M

When we first launched Peyton Bre we did so in a social or direct sales model.

Through poor inventory projections we were forced to change models but only after losing $2 million dollars.

It was a devastating time for us and one we were not sure we could survive.

I have since become very intentional about the way that we project our inventory needs and we continue to refine that quarterly and even monthly. We have created a KPI for the cost of goods sold to help us hold ourselves accountable.

Ultimately, the better we manage our inventory the less we have need to discount and the healthier our profit margin becomes.

This is, of course, a very high-level overview of the importance of inventory control.

To see the full breakdown on how to manage inventory, check out my guide over on my blog..

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Erin E Hooley, on starting Bailey's Blossoms ($750,000/month) full story ➜

🚀 How To Launch Your Furniture Business

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Build A Website

Building a website is imperative when launching your business, and with the right tools in place, this can be a simple task to check off the list (without having to hire someone).

  1. Pick a domain name that's easy to remember and easy to type
  2. Choose a Web Hosting Plan (ie. Shopify, Squarespace)
  3. Make sure you choose the right theme and design
  4. Implement the proper page structure (ie. about page, contact page, pricing etc)

To learn more about how to build a stellar website with little stress, we give you all the details on this step-by-step guide.

Web Design

Once you have chosen the domain, web hosting, and platform, it's time to get started with the design phase.

Themes are a great way to produce the fundamental style and identity of your website - this includes everything from your font design to your blog post styles.

One of the best ways to get started is to simply explore the various themes (free or paid depending on what you're looking for) and test them on your site.

If web-design really isn't in the cards for you, you may want to consider outsourcing a web designer to help bring your vision and brand to life.

Marketplaces

There are various different marketplaces that you can effectively sell and promote your furniture business, whether that's local or online!

Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Your own website! Shopify is known to be the best for e-commerce stores
  • Local places! Gift shops, farmers markets, festivals, grocery stores etc
  • Etsy - E-commerce website for craft supplies
  • Craft is Art Marketplace to buy and sell handmade crafts & fine art
  • Aftcra Online marketplace where you can buy and sell handmade products
  • Storenvy Marketplace for authentic brands
  • Amazon

Etsy Tips From Founders

Etsy is one of the most common marketplaces for this business type, however, there are some tips and tricks from other founders you'll want to consider prior to listing:

Financially speaking, Etsy is a really great way to start a business because it’s essentially free until you start selling. It cost nothing to launch besides my 20 cent listing fees.

Etsy has been encouraging free shipping with a lot of pushback from sellers, but I built everything into our prices about a month ago and introduced free shipping shopwide, which seems to have improved conversion rates and search visibility already.

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I honestly attribute the bulk of my success to photography. I was a photographer first so obviously very lucky to have no issues launching with great images and it’s something I consistently produce.

With Etsy especially, there are a ton of mediocre amateur photos so it was an easy way to set myself apart from the start, and I don’t think Etsy themselves would feature my products and market them so often otherwise. We’re also able to compete fairly well on price because 80% of customers are American, and our dollar is much weaker.

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Sasha Weekes, on starting Timber Grove Studios ($6,500/month) full story ➜

One big mistake I’m seeing from other people selling handcrafted items is regarding Etsy. I’m seeing people do one of two things:

  1. Under-utilize the platform
  2. They are solely using the platform

What I mean by this is that I’m seeing a whole lot of handcrafters that only use Etsy because it’s easy. But referring people to an Etsy page as your webpage isn’t as professional as a dot com webpage, plus, Etsy’s fees are much higher than Shopify. Also, when Etsy makes changes to its marketing structure, I’ve seen people who have no other website get absolutely screwed and their shops go under.

The other camp is those that refuse to use Etsy at all. Etsy is a marketplace, with a built-in audience that is often searching for exactly the product you make! Both camps are making the mistake of not diversifying their markets. Use Etsy, it’s an amazing sales tool, but don’t rely on it solely.

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James Wolfer, on starting Valhalla Wood Forge ($8,500/month) full story ➜

Launch Strategies For Your Furniture Business

There are various different ways you can launch your furniture business successfully.

Here are a few different strategies to get customers excited about your furniture business.

  • Build hype with a landing page: you can effectively do this through waiting lists, discounts, countdown timer etc
  • Create a teaser video: even just a 30 second video is a great way to exposure for your furniture business, and possibly even go viral
  • Reach out to influencers: The right influencer for your product has the ability to reach your audience with just one post, and because of their loyal following, this could lead to a big return for you.
  • Get Press: Whether you plan a PR stunt or get exposure through a popular news outlet, this is a great way to attract initial customers
  • Launch on popular sites: A great way to get buzz about your furniture business is to submit your launch to popular startup sites.

Here are a few popular sites to launch on:

Learn more about how to launch your business successfully ➜ here

Greg Hayes, founder of Branch Furniture dives deep into the process of launching the business:

Between early October 2018 and late February 2019, we got to work on launching what was then called Bureau Office Furniture. Securing our prototypes made us feel like we had a real business for the first time, but the road from prototype to active business was going to be a long and expensive one. Furniture takes months to produce and ship, and our factories required minimum orders that closed in on six digits.

The first order of business was to raise capital. Over the course of two months, we raised $200k from family, friends, and several angel investors who saw potential in what we were building. It was just enough money to produce our first production run, but we also needed to fly in our prototypes, set up a small Manhattan showroom, hold a photo shoot, and build a website...and we had no experience doing any of those things.

how-i-started-a-300k-month-premium-office-furniture-business Prototypes arriving in our NYC showroom

In retrospect, this stage was the most stressful part of launching the startup. We were now stewards of money from people we cared about, and most of it was being wired to factories in China. We’d heard all of the nightmare stories of dealing with Chinese manufacturers: quality slippage, inventory not matching prototype designs, factories “closing” after the payment is sent, and so on. Now we had to wait three months for our furniture to be produced and shipped before we would have any idea if it was of the quality we had signed up for. To make matters worse, I was up all night dealing with our factories as we worked through growing pains. There was no shortage of moments that left me wishing I was back in my old career with a steady paycheck.

By January we realized that we were totally unprepared for the process of importing our furniture. Assuming we could figure out how to get it into the country, we’d also need a warehouse, and then we’d have to figure out how to ship our product domestically since we were promising two-week delivery and white-glove assembly, which was to be an industry first. Of course, none of that would matter if we didn’t have any sales, which at that point was nothing more than a dream.

In the end, the launch was a huge success. We sold through all of our initial inventory run within six weeks, mostly on the back of word-of-mouth within New York’s commercial real estate industry. We spent March, April, and May delivering to our first customers and preparing for our next run of inventory to arrive. The operational side of the business was an enormous challenge, but we worked day and night to get it right. By July we’d closed a $2.1 million seed round with some of the best investors in the proptech venture world. By November we had rebranded to “Branch,” launched a new website and hired a team of ten spread across New York City, North Carolina and China.

Be ready to work your ass off. The most successful business people I know are not the smartest people I know, they’re the hardest working, and they don’t give up when things get tough.

The biggest lesson I learned through the process is that, although starting a business is really hard, you can literally will it into existence. There’s no reason Sib, Verity and I should have a growing furniture business. A year ago we knew almost nothing about furniture, manufacturing, international trade, domestic delivery, warehousing, or raising money. But we supported each other, took a “never say die” attitude, and worked our asses off, and as a result, probably have the fastest growing furniture company in the country.

how-i-started-a-300k-month-premium-office-furniture-business Our first photoshoot

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Greg Hayes, on starting Branch Furniture ($300,000/month) full story ➜

Make Sure You Get The Package Design Right

The way you package your furniture business is often the first impression your customer has - so it's important to get it right.

You may want to ask yourself these questions:

If my product is on a shelf next to hundreds of other similar products:

  • Will my furniture business stand out?
  • Will the branding/packaging create a connection with my customer, and hence, lead them to buy?

There are hundreds of tools you can use to help with packaging and design:

  • Canva - Allows non-designers to create beautiful Instagram/Pinterest posts, flyers, business cards, etc.
  • Stickermule - High quality custom stickers you can include on or in your packaging.
  • Noissue - Custom tissue paper and compostable mailers
  • Rollo Label Printer - A great tool to print all shipping labels at home

Sheets & Giggles explains the motive behind their "Premium Unboxing Experience"

I had a particular vision for our packaging centered around one goal: because we were a DTC company and wouldn’t do physical retail in year 1, we needed to focus entirely on an incredible unboxing experience that made the product feel as premium as possible.

Outside: a white box, nice wax coating, logo front and center with no other copy, easy to open, nice and sturdy.

Inside: make people smile from the get-go, have a social call-to-action, include free extra surprises (a knapsack that wraps the sheets and an eye mask), put funny copy all over the place, and add a donation bag that people could use to donate their now-defunct cotton sheets (sheets & blankets are the #2-most-requested item at shelters behind socks).

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Colin McIntosh, on starting Sheets & Giggles ($200,000/month) full story ➜

🌱 How To Grow Your Furniture Business

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Social Media Advertising

Social Media Advertising is one of the leading ways to get the word out when it comes to furniture business.

There are various different Social Media platforms available to you. Some may be more critical for your marketing efforts than others, however, it's important to have an understanding of what's out there and available to you.

Let's talk about a few of the main platforms and what makes them unique:

  • Facebook Advertising - more than 2 billion monthly users. Facebook is the best for lead generation + capturing email addresses for e-commerce businesses.
  • Instagram Advertising - approximately 500 million monthly users and has a higher audience engagement rate than any other platform. Instagram ads are best for linking to a product page or landing page and reaches the 18-29 age group most effectively.
  • Twitter Advertising- Small businesses typically use twitter ads to drive brand awareness, but the platform is meant more for organic engagement (and is not as heavily used for paid advertising)
  • Pinterest Advertising - 175 million monthly users and most effectively reaches the female audience. Pinterest is great for promoting products without "promoted". The promoted pins have a way of blending right in.
  • LinkedIn Advertising - 227 million monthly users and is geared towards the B2B market and generates the highest quality leads. Great platform for recruiters, high-end products and services that will help businesses

It's important to first define your goal/objective so that you don't waste time and money into the wrong platform:

Here are some different questions to ask yourself as it relates to your goals:

  • Do I want to simply drive brand awareness?
  • Do I want to drive users to my website to gather information?
  • Do I want to increase sales and get my customer to take action?

From there, choose the platform that targets your audience best and start experimenting!

Learn more about social media advertising ➜ here.

Founder Andy Hayes talks about mastering FB ads and the pixel:

The biggest bang for your buck will likely be mastering Facebook and it’s platform - which we all know is pay for play, so you’ll have to come up with a small amount of budget to start for marketing.

We’ve spent countless hours (and paid numerous coaches) before we cracked the code that works for us on Facebook, but it is working really well for us now.

Some of the most important things to know when it comes to FB Ads:

  • Start with retargeting (that’s showing ads to people who already know you but did not purchase). Master this - and start building information on your Facebook Pixel - before you do anything else
  • Once you have that down, try working with the 1% “Lookalike” audience to prospect for new customers. This may take awhile because your pixel audience is small, so try layering on interests - 1% Lookalike and your largest competitor, for example. Don’t use interest-only targeting until you master this.
  • Great photography and videography is key, as is smart copy. Research what’s out there in your industry and constantly test - what works for one company may not work for other people.
  • Make sure you have good offers. For example, we have a $5 trial for our subscription, which converts affordably - if we promoted our subscription with the standard $30 front charge, it wouldn’t be as cost-effective.
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Andy Hayes, on starting Plum Deluxe Tea ($75,000/month) full story ➜

Grow Your Email List

The more engaged list of emails, the more engaged customers, which ultimately leads to more sales.

One of the best ways to start growing your list is by providing your customer with something free (or discounted) in return.

This could also be anything from:

  • Ebook
  • Fascinating case study
  • Video series
  • Free week of the product
  • Discount on the product

Learn more about how to grow your email list and improve email marketing ➜ here.

Dylan Jacob, founder of Brumate states their email collection tactic that is proven to work:

We use Spin-a-Sale for this (you spin a wheel for a discount code in exchange for subscribing to our email list). This has been the best email-collecting tool we have found because the customer truly feels like they won a prize rather than just a coupon code.

Even if a customer doesn’t convert right away, if we have their email we have a 19% chance of converting them into a future customer whether that is through future promotions, new releases, or simply just sending an email at the right time for a purchase to finally make sense for them.

We also have a return customer rate of over 14%, so one out of every 6 people we convert will end up buying from us again with an average order value of over $60.00.

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Dylan Jacob, on starting BrüMate ($12,000,000/month) full story ➜

Add an exit-intent popup to your online store

A great way to double, or even triple, your email opt-in rate and to grow your list is to add an exit-intent popup to your site, and offering a discount or content upgrade for subscribers.

Here's an example of what that might look like:

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One thing that I spent years NOT doing, that I now kick myself about, is adding an "exit intent pop-up" to our site, which lets people enter a sweepstakes to win a Xero Shoes gift certificate.

That one idea has added over 100,000 subscribers to our email list, which is one of our most effective marketing channels.

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Steven Sashen, on starting Xero Shoes ($1,500,000/month) full story ➜

Improve Your Email Marketing

Different types of emails

Here are the most common types of email campaigns you can send to your customers and their benefits:

  • Welcome emails - the perfect way to provide information from the start with a clear CTA. Make sure to tell your customer everything they need to know about your product or service.
  • Newsletters - a great way to give customers updates or send out your latest content
  • Product launch emails - the quickest (and easiest) way to increase sales is by selling to current customers. Make sure they're the first on the list to know about your new product
  • Promotional emails - promote discounts, deals coupons etc. Try and make this feel exclusive and for a limited time only
  • Abandoned cart emails - give your customers a reason to complete their purchase!

Here's a great resource for finding curated email designs, for all types of email campaigns!

Abandonded Cart Flow

The abandoned cart workflow is one of the most effective strategies for turning your lead into a customer, and a powerful tool to have if you're an e-commerce business.

Think about all the times that you went on a shopping frenzy only to add items to your cart and then either forget or realize nows not the right time to pull the trigger.

Then, minutes later you receive an email saying "Hurry up! Your cart is waiting - and we want to provide you with 20% off your order."

Maybe that's the special touch (and discount) you needed to pull that trigger.

Implementing this workflow can automatically trigger this for your business every time a customer abandons their cart.

Here's a great example of an abandoned cart email from Brooklinen:

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Things they do well:

  • Showcase 5-star reviews from other customers
  • Offer a small discount + free shipping
  • Great design + clear call to actions!

Improve your SEO

SEO is not just about driving traffic to your site, it's about driving the RIGHT traffic to your site, and ultimately, converting leads into customers.

One of the most important aspects of SEO is understanding what your customers are searching for, otherwise known as "keyword research."

Here are some tools that can help you choose the right keywords for your furniture business.

Publish Great Content

Finding keywords is an important piece of the puzzle, but Google also ranks your site based on the actual content you produce, as this is what your customers are reading and engaging with.

There are various different "forms" of content that you may want to consider diversifying on your sites, such as blog posts, articles, studies, and videos.

So let's discuss what google considers "good content:"

  • Length - This will vary depending on the page, however, generally having a sufficient amount of content helps search engines recognize that your site is a good source for a specific topic
  • Engagement - The longer people stay on your website to read your content, the higher Google will rank your website. It's important to have informative and "thick" content that keeps people reading
  • Avoid Duplicating Content - Google will recognize this and may consider your content to have low value
  • Ensure pages load quickly - This will also help with engagement and time spent on your website
  • Shareability - Create content that people want to share, and is easy for them to share, especially to their social media accounts (ie. "click to tweet" is a great example of this).

Another element of creating good content is creating consistent content.

If (and hopefully you are) publishing content frequently, it's important to stick to a schedule - this helps build brand trust and easy user experience with your customers.

Planning out your content with a content calendar is key to staying consistent.

Here are a few great content calendar tools that can help you:

  • Trello
  • Airtable
  • If you prefer to keep it simple, your average spreadsheet is just as useful!

Backlinks

Backlinks are an important piece to SEO, as they allow for other websites to link to your content.

Search engines recognize that other sites are essentially "verifying" your content and essentially rank you higher because of this.

Of course, some links are more valuable than others and can affect your site in different ways.

For example, if a highly valuable and credible site like the New York Times links to a page on your website, this could be remarkable from an SEO perspective.

Aside from organically getting mentioned from other sites, there are other ways that you can increase and earn backlinks:

  • Create infographics with relevant data that people want to share
  • Promote your content on different sites/look into "guest blogging"
  • Contact influencers/journalists/bloggers and ask them to mention you!
  • Write testimonials for other sites in exchange for a backlink
  • Leverage existing business relationships

Learn more about the fundamentals of SEO ➜ here and check out Neil Patel's 3 Powerful SEO Tips below

Build A Blog

One of the most effective ways to build brand awareness and grow your business is through consistently blogging.

We've outlined some useful tips for you to consider when creating content:

Consistency and Quantity

Quality is important, but it should be the standard for any content you publish.

What’s more important is consistency and quantity.

Consistency is as simple as committing to publishing and sharing a certain number of posts per week. For me, that’s three per week right now.

This kind of commitment is key, because one day, a random post will blow up, and you will have never expected it.

Oversaturation

The easiest mind trap is to think "I’m posting too much", and “I need to give my readers/audience/this platform a break”.

This is nonsense.

There is no such thing as oversaturation. Well, there is, but it is just someone else’s opinion.

For every person that tells you you are posting too much, there is another person that wants even more of your content.

You should ignore people’s opinions on how much you post.

Patience & Persistence

Keep posting, keep trying, and keep putting out good content on the regular. Your time will come, and when it does, it will change everything.

The only thing you have control over is your content.

You can’t control how people will react to it. You can’t control pageviews, likes, or shares.

So the only metric you should focus on is how much content you can put out in a week, month, etc.

Where to share your blog content

Mailing List

I know it sounds obvious, but the best places to share your content is on your mailing list. It is guaranteed traffic and it is a great way to get rapid feedback from your most loyal readers.

Send newsletters often. I have done once a week since starting, and I’m moving to twice a week soon.

Work on increasing your mailing list as well. Look into ways to increase your conversion rate to your mailing list. I added a flyout popup thing to my site and now I’m collecting ~30 emails per day.

An email newsletter is one of the most powerful assets you can have and it is worth its weight in gold.

Reddit

Reddit is one of my favorite places to promote content.

It is a very scary place because you will often get banned or heckled, but it can really pay off.

Create social media accounts for your blog, the main ones I use:

Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn

Set up Buffer and share all of your blog posts to all of your accounts. All of these little shares really do add up.

Automate this as much as possible. I automated all of my social media for Starter Story.

Facebook Groups

When I started out, I put together a spreadsheet of relevant Facebook groups for my niche, and I would post to these groups whenever I had a big story I wanted to share.

Build A Facebook Community

Building a community is a great way to grow your network and your business.

There are several different ways of building a community, one of the most effective (and simplest) ways is to build a Facebook group

Setting up the group page takes less than 10 minutes, and we've outlined ways the top 5 ways to create an engaging and successful group:

  • Make the group exclusive. This may sound counter-intuitive, however, this ensures privacy and that the group will feel comfortable posting and engaging with members.
  • Try to be warm and welcoming. A great way to do this is by having a "Member Monday" where you welcome new members and ask them to introduce themselves in the group
  • Use polls/surveys. This is a great way to know your audience and see what people want more of in the group (more business tips, networking opportunities, etc).
  • Include influential people & conduct AMA's (ask me anything). This is a great way to get members engaged
  • Host an in-person (or virtual) event with members in the group. This will create stronger relationships and build a strong community.

Mike Doehla, founder of Stronger U, an online nutrition company noticed that his customers needed a little motivation and sense of community:

Most diets are lonely so we wanted to give support and a community.

I think many people fail diets because there is no one to talk to and no accountability.

You can by a book, or google a meal plan but who’s going to keep you on track? We will. The entire SU community.

We give our members access for life to our Facebook community filled with people around the world who are looking out for everyone’s success.

Most diets make up arbitrary rules and we thought they just didn’t make sense. Meal timing, Cutting carbs, butter in coffee, sugar being the devil? Ehh no need to overthink that stuff.

We’ll give you the science behind of what we do and show you what actually matters based on real research.

Luckily we have a PhD at our disposal to educate our staff and members so everyone is getting the most up to date information out there.

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Mike Doehla, on starting Stronger U ($500,000/month) full story ➜

Consider Selling On Amazon

In addition to selling your products directly on your site, you may want to consider selling on Amazon to reach a wider audience and attract new customers.

Here are some pros and cons of selling on amazon:

Pros

  • Easy and seamless process to get your product listed on Amazon
  • There are roughly 100 million thoroughly committed prime customers, so you're bound to tap into new business
  • Can help grow your business exponentially and reach new audiences

Cons

  • You may encounter some "copycats" and counterfeit products
  • Amazon owns the relationship with the customer (you lose control over product reviews + customer service)
  • If you already have a low-markup, amazon may not wrth your while and you could end up losing money
  • Commissions and listing fees are high - it's easy to lose control of your offering

Follow these instructions to get your product listed on Amazon or check out the video below on how to get started:

Cory Stout, founder of Woodies ($250K/mo) provides us with specifics on how to rank better on amazon:

Our main product is walnut wood sunglasses that I sell for $25 on Amazon and Woodies.com.

I dedicated myself to becoming an Amazon expert. I listened to all the podcasts and read all the blog posts I could find. Shoutout EcomCrew I took the basic fundamentals that are out there and I added a couple of my own twists.

Amazon brings me, 100 brand new customers, every day for very little acquisition cost. If I tried that on my own, it would take a TON of work and it wouldn’t be nearly as effective as Amazon, so I took the easy road on this one.

Here's an article I wrote on how to rank better on amazon (30+ Tips):

5/5: ESSENTIAL

  • Beautiful images (minimum 5 images) especially lifestyle images I use UpgradedImages.com for product photography (hey Ken!)
  • Keywords in your title (but it still needs to sound human)
  • Competitive price (contributes to high conversion rate)
  • NOT having 1-star reviews
  • DON'T STOCKOUT: it's such a killer and if you DO stockout, definitely DON'T raise your price right before you do, if anything LOWER your price for the last 10-20 units before you stockout, each ASIN has a 'memory' for when you do get back in stock so that will help you regain ranking quickly
  • DON'T VIOLATE AMAZON TOS: just don't
  • Perform QC on your stock before you send it in (I sent in a wrong box once and I had to 'remove' over 3,000 pieces so I could sift through them and remove the 150 contaminated pieces 0/7 would not recommend

4/5: Pretty Friggin Important

  • Minimum 10 5-star reviews (do this before you do anything below this)
  • Well optimized PPC campaigns (could do a whole post on this, keep ACOS under 40%) here's a screenshot of some of my campaigns I use a combination of manual campaigns with exact phrases and high bids...and auto campaigns with a broad range of products and very low bids
  • Turning on FeedbackGenius for auto review requests (it's not as good as it used to be, but it's still worth it)
  • Get a trademark and get Brand Registry, this protects you from hijackers and other unscrupulous sellers
  • Quick response to customer messages (under 12 hours) here are my stats my mom does all my customer service "Employee of the Year" status
  • Drive outside traffic (amazon loves outside traffic because they don't have to spend so much to acquire customers) Facebook, Instagram, and Google Adwords are the usual suspects
  • Use ocean shipping to save mucho $$$ on unit costs (use flexport)

Read more about amazon tips here.

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Cory Stout, on starting Woodies ($250,000/month) full story ➜

🏃🏼‍♀️ How To Run Your Furniture Business

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How To Retain Customers For Your Furniture Business

Retaining customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your furniture business.

Oftentimes, it's easy to find yourself focusing on generating new customers, vs retaining your current ones.

Look at it this way - you are 60-70% more likely to sell a new product to an existing customer than you are a new customer.

That's not to say that finding new customers and revenue streams is not important, however, the easiest (and most inexpensive) source of new revenue is right there in front of you.

Here are some ways you can retain customers for your furniture business:

  • Responding to comments on social media
  • Send discounts (or freebies) to loyal customers
  • Provide valuable content, for free
  • Write a hand written thank you note
  • Provide awesome customer service and build relationships with customers

To find out more tips and tricks on retaining customers, check out this article ➜ here

Wes O’Donnell, founder of Modern Workspace dives deep into the process of attracting and retaining customers:

Starting an ecommerce business

You are going to be overwhelmed with the choices you have for marketing your business. There are companies that claim they can send traffic to your site, companies that claim they can improve your SEO overnight and it is extremely hard to distinguish who is legit and who is a scammer.

A cautionary tale:

I was scammed in the first 6 months of Modern Workspace. I was approached by a company that claimed that I needed to have "good business credit" and that they would manage my Duns & Bradstreet business credit rating to ensure that my company would be more easily indexed and found by more customers.

What was the cost for this service? $7,000. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a scam, but it was definitely a service that I didn’t need as a startup.

So what can you do for marketing in the early days? Here’s a breakdown:

Start an Instagram business profile

According to Hootsuite, 60% of Instagram users find new products on IG and 75% of those take action after visiting a post. Also, Instagram users are 70% more likely to make mobile purchases so make sure your theme is responsive (this is 2018 so they all should be these days).

Start a Facebook business page and an accompanying "Closed" group

This is where you can give tips & tricks etc. Why “closed” and not open? Don’t I want as many people as possible in my group? A closed Facebook group implies exclusivity. There is some psychology at play here.

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Take a crash course in Google Adwords

Either watch YouTube tutorials or buy a Udemy course, whatever it takes. Google Adwords advertising has sent more traffic to my site than any other advertising source. Just make sure you fully understand what keyword research is. You can outsource this later when your business is more mature and generating revenue, but it is something you need to know how to do yourself.

Become a storyteller. Our whole society is based around stories in the form of movies, TV, books and games. These stories have a clearly defined beginning, middle and end. Engage your future customers by being an authentic storyteller.

Email marketing

This may shock a lot of people, but I have never used email marketing. I just can’t seem to find the time to send out a monthly newsletter to my mailing list. Am I leaving money on the table? Yes.

If I were to take my own advice, I would use MailChimp. It’s free and has some beautiful templates. I’ve used it sparingly in the past for Warrior Lodge but not Modern Workspace.

SEO

This goes without saying, but make sure your site is SEO bulletproof. I use Yoast SEO for my WordPress sites and Shopify is very SEO friendly. Make sure to set up Google Webmaster tools so that you can monitor your stats and notify Google about your sitemap. Search Engine Optimization: Learn it, Live it, Love it.

Networking and partnerships

Remember that old saying "it’s not what you know, it’s who you know"? That is the most true quote in every aspect of my life, including eCommerce. SunsetKingdom.org is my new eCommerce store with a niche of West Michigan Outdoor gear.

I leveraged my network of former college students that attended my classes, members of the local Rotary Club, members of the local Chamber of Commerce all in a bid to get the locals excited about a new local business.

My pitch? Why buy a Kayak at a nameless, faceless sporting goods store like Dicks, or even WalMart when you could be supporting a local business that’s veteran-owned? Use your network and use your personal story.

Facebook advertising.

I have had great success with using Facebook ads to send visitors to a blog posting to earn revenue from Google Adsense. Having said that, I still haven’t cracked the code to send qualified buyers to my eCommerce store who are ready to make a purchase.

Facebook offers FREE training on how to get the most out of their ad network. I highly recommend spending the time to learn it. There is a reason that Facebook is a $40 billion dollar a year company. Their ad targeting is unmatched on any other platform.

One final note on influencers.

It never hurts to befriend those individuals who have a massive online following. How do you do this? Reach out and provide value to them in some way. It’s up to you to come up with your value proposition. The worst that can happen is they will ignore you.

I have heard of some incredible success stories on Amazon. Interestingly, many local entrepreneurs are setting up accounts with Chinese suppliers like Oberlo or AliExpress and competing with each other on Amazon. It’s actually very difficult to find certain products supplied in the USA these days.

I don’t use Amazon except to sell my books, 😊 however, if I did, I would somehow try to differentiate myself and my product listing as an American business with American products.

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Wes O’Donnell, on starting Modern Workspace ($13,400/month) full story ➜

Diversify Your Product Line

Adding new products to your business is a great way to expand into new markets and grow your business.

It's important to note that adding new products and diversifying may not be in the cards for you right this moment, and that's okay. You can always consider it down the road.

Here are some reasons you may want to considering adding/diversifying your product

  • Meeting the needs of your customers
  • Establish yourself as a top provider in your industry and stay ahead of the game with competition
  • Resistance to downturns/trends fading
  • Create new revenue streams

How To Crush The Sales Process For Your Furniture Business

You may find yourself in a spot where you're ready to hire a few (or many) salespeople to support the sales conversion process.

Regardless if you have one or thirty salespeople, it's critical that you assign them specific roles and responsibilities to nurture the client and provide excellent support.

Mike Korba, co-founder of User.Com walks us through the entire sales process and which teams are responsible for what:

User.com Sales Process

Each user and account is qualified with a specialist. For business leads, they are handled by the sales team, and if they are qualified we give them a demo, more than often at the end of their fourteen-day trial. If they’re happy they’ll add a payment, and get an account manager, so a customer support and success team who will help implement the solution and to use the technology.

Sometimes, users will convert naturally on their own, after using the freemium product and finding it to be something that they will find beneficial.

After they convert, we help with onboarding, give them some personalized tips for their specific business or industry to grow plus all kinds of support, for whatever they need - something we take huge pride in.

The team is right now more than 30 people, with more than half working on the IT and product side, and the rest are in three teams: Support, Marketing, and Sales who all work together very closely.

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Mike Korba, on starting User.com ($100,000/month) full story ➜

Word of Mouth

The most tried and true way to grow a furniture business is through word of mouth - some entrepreneurs would say it's more important than all social media.

Why you should focus on word of mouth:

  • Consumers trust word of mouth above all other forms of marketing
  • 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising
  • 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe it is the most effective form of marketing

Learn more about word of mouth in our guide: 30 Ways Founders Grow Their Business ➜

Authenticity

As a brand, you want to deliver an experience that authentic, honest and transparent.

Don't make the mistake of giving your audience less credit than they deserve.

Be Authentic

If you go around chasing every trend and only focused on yourself and money, you’re going to lose very quickly.

There have been many times where we have been tempted to do this but stayed true.

Sure we sacrificed sales, but we kept our integrity, played the long game and people saw and appreciated that, and really began emotionally investing in the brand.

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Valentin Ozich, on starting I Love Ugly ($300,000/month) full story ➜

Outsourcing

If you can afford to hire someone to help support your furniture business, outsourcing is a great way to save you time and energy.

Most importantly, outsourcing can help you focus on the core growth of your business, versus spending your time on day to day tasks that other people can do just as well!

If you do plan to outsource your work, it's important to be hyper-familiar with the actual work involved.

Why is it important to be hyper-familiar with the work?

  • So you can understand how long it takes
  • So you understand the full process, edge cases, things that can go wrong.
  • So you can explain it in detail to your employee.
  • So you can make sure it actually works (for example - how do you know cold email works for your business if you’re not on the ground floor trying it out?)
  • Understanding the tasks at a deep level will save you a lot of time and money.

Build a Referral Program

Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get the word out about your business and acquire new customers. Especially when you are starting out, it’s important to build a solid referral program to encourage existing customers to help you find new ones.

A great way to do that is by offering a reward (ie. credit on your service or cash) to customers that refer you to their friends and family.

A fantastic referral program will help with clout, credibility, and establishing yourself in the space.

Provide Great Customer Service

Providing exceptional care and creating relationships with clients is a great way to build your reputation and retain customers.

Whether you are an online business or a physical business, it's highly important to communicate with customers and make them feel like they are the priority.

Just remember: customer service represents your brand, values, vision and YOU as a person.

Resources

We put together the best resources on the internet to help you start your furniture business.

Tools

Books

Web Resources

Videos

Case Studies

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Starter Story,   Founder of Starter Story

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