How to Start a 30M+/Year Custom-Making Furniture Business in Kenya

Last Updated on 9 April 2022 by Gertrude

Growing up, my dad would show us how to make bookcases and study tables.

Have you ever bought IKEA products and went, ‘Yeah, I can make this?’‘.

Instead of mass-producing furniture like IKEA, you can start a custom made furniture business from home.

Many furniture stores in Kenya are built for custom- orders.

Custom orders mean less risk to your business – you’re building furniture for your customers and according to customers’ orders.

Taking custom orders is complicated for many furniture store owners in Kenya because they don’t have systems for taking custom orders.

Keeping up with the furniture trends means you build furniture that your customers hype about.

You need to have money to help you purchase fabrics, tools/equipment and space to make the furniture.

The earlier furniture you make will be advertisement pieces/showroom pieces.

There’s stiff competition for furniture in Kenya, with every corner having a furniture store.

The problem with these furniture stores, they don’t have branding, make furniture that everyone else makes and don’t understand the rules for custom orders.

Importantly, these furniture stores don’t know how to market themselves.

You can quickly stand out with your furniture business when you market, brand and stay current with the trends in a furniture business.

Don’t forget to write a business plan for your furniture business.

Inside the plan, ask yourself who are you making the furniture for and why?

Where will you get the customers and when?

How much do you expect to earn with a furniture business per day, week, month or per year?

Is a Furniture Business Profitable?

Yes. The furniture business is a very profitable business venture.

The furniture industry keeps growing.

A furniture business has a high return on investments as you are using your skills to make money.

You can start a furniture business working from home and then expand to a location later on.

Your furniture business can be a side job or a full-time job.

What is a Furniture Business and How Does it Work?

A furniture business is a business where you start to make and sell furniture.

This includes sofa sets, tables, chairs, desks, beds, wall units, cabinets, wardrobes etc.

As a furniture business owner, you will be working with customers to come up with the furniture design to their specifications.

This only applies if you will be making the furniture yourself.

If you will be buying from furniture factories, you need to give your customers images of the furniture offerings that you have and then sell them to your customers at a profit.

How to Start a Successful and Profitable Furniture Business

You have already made the decision to start a furniture business.

You have to know how you will be going through the process of building your business from scratch.

Starting a furniture business is quite simple.

Here is a quick step by step guide on how to start a furniture business today.

Get carpentry training

This is the first thing you need to do before you start a furniture business.

It is particularly important if you intend to make your own furniture from scratch and sell them to clients.

You can take a course about carpentry, acquire training or learn through apprenticeship.

You want to make sure you perfect your skills so that you can give your clients the best furniture they can ever get.

Find a reliable timber supplier

The thing with furniture is that for you to have the best items, you have to invest in a reliable timber supplier.

Your timber supplier must be able to bring you high-quality timber.

Poor timber makes poor quality work.

Get a suitable location

The next thing you want to do is to find a good location to position your furniture business.

You should check for zoning laws so that you do not start your furniture business in a place that has been marked off by the government.

You also have to start your business in a place that is accessible and free from crime to avoid theft and vandalism.

I will go over these issues later in the article.

Meet the necessary legal requirements

It is important to get the necessary business licences and permits so that you do not get your business shut down or you end up paying heavy fines for it.

This is going to be a huge setback when you are starting your furniture business and you do not need that.

Do your due diligence and make sure that you have settled all the scores with the authorities. 

Launch and market your furniture business

After you have completed all the steps above, it is Tim’s for you to launch your furniture business and market yourself.

Channel all your efforts into marketing and build your customer base.

I will go over the different marketing strategies you can use later in the article.

Customer service

Practising excellent customer service is one way to run a successful furniture business.

If customers get an amazing experience when shopping for furniture in your business, they will come back.

Price fairly

Do not overprice or underprice your furniture to make more profit or to attract customers.

This is not good business. Your pricing needs to be fair and still profitable to you.

Produce quality furniture

This starts right from the timber supplies that you are getting and will be used to make furniture.

If you invest in quality furniture, your business has a higher chance of survival.

Understand customer needs

Work closely with customers so that you can find the right price of the furniture that matches their style and preference.

This will help you run a successful furniture business.

Market your business

Do not forget to market your furniture business.

Employ good marketing strategies that will help put you on top of the competition. 

What Will I Do in a Furniture Business?

There are certain things that you will be doing on any typical day in a furniture business.

  • Make sure your furniture displays are spotlessly clean and attractive. 
  • Designing new displays for incoming furniture collections
  • Providing a welcoming environment for shoppers
  • Scheduling furniture deliveries for customers
  • Offering in-home consultations for customers who want to have a unified design.
  • Making orders from furniture factories and having them delivered
  • Reviewing new furniture collections and deciding on what to sell
  • Working with customers to find the right piece of furniture that matches their style.
  • Administrative duties
  • Marketing your furniture business 

What Do I Need to Start a Furniture Business?

This is what you need to start a furniture business. 

  • Carpentry tools e.g chisels, claw hammer, ruler, tape measure, handsaw, drill, lever, hand plane, screwdrivers etc.
  • Timber supplies
  • Furniture yard 
  • Business permit
  • Business insurance

What are the Expenses For Starting a Furniture Business?

It is very important that you know the initial startup costs and the ongoing expenses that you will incur when you start a furniture business.

You do not want to end up falling short in your finances or budget for things that you do not need.

  1. Cost of carpentry tools
  2. Timber supplies
  1. Rental space 
  1. Business licence/permit
  2. Business insurance 
  1. Website costs

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Furniture Business?

The amount of money it will cost you to start a furniture business will depend on the nature of your business.

This is whether you will make the furniture or you will rely on ready-made furniture.

It is cost-efficient if you make your own furniture and start your business.

You can start out with less capital.

How Do I Make Money With a Furniture Business?

With a furniture business, you will make money by selling your furniture to people who need them.

This is the basic dynamic of this business.

If you are getting your furniture from a factory at wholesale prices, you can sell them for a profit to your customers.

If you want to earn more money, you can include lighting fixtures, electronics, appliances and outdoor furniture in your business. 

How Much Should I Charge My Customers?

The amount of money you charge your customers will depend on the following factors.

  1. Competition. Loo at what your competitors are charging for their furniture items and use that as their base price for which you will also charge your customers.
  1. Furniture design.  If your client requires a more complex furniture design, then you will have to charge them more than if they want simpler designs.
  1. Wholesale price. If you are getting your furniture from the factory you will be selling based on the price you got it for plus a little extra for profit.

How Much Money Can I Make With a Furniture Business?

The amount of money you can make with a furniture business will depend on the number of clients you are serving and the type of designs you will be making.

More clients mean more money.

Complex projects will most definitely make you more money.

On average, the amount of money you can make with a furniture business is a markup of 40% from the cost of making the given furniture.

Legal Requirements For Starting a Furniture Business 

When you are starting a furniture business, you have to make sure you are in full compliance with the law so that you will not end up paying heavy fines or get your business shut down.

These are the necessary permits and licences you need to start a furniture business. 

  • Business licence 
  • Business insurance for General Liability
  • Occupancy permit for your physical location 

What is the Best Location for a Furniture Business?

When you want to open a storefront furniture business, you have to understand what makes a location a great location and also secure these locations.

Location will either make or break your business.

There are certain things you need to consider when you are setting up your furniture business in a given location.

Here they are:

  1. Foot traffic. Start your physical furniture business in places that have high foot traffic so that you will increase the chances of people walking by your furniture bar to get something to drink.
  1. Accessibility. Make sure your furniture business is in places that are visible and accessible by the main road or highways.
  1. Location type.  Start your furniture business in high-end places where people are ready and willing to buy your furniture for a profit. Zoning should be your big concern for your furniture business.
  1. Crime rate. Start a furniture business in places that you have established have high security. You want to avoid theft, vandalism and your customers from being attacked when they are on their way back home.
  1. Local laws. Make sure that the place you choose to build your physical furniture business is free from all government zoning laws so that you do not risk having your business shut down.
  1. Competition. When you are looking at the competition, you do not want to start your business in places that are already crowded with other furniture businesses. If you do, make your business unique and outstanding. 

The best places to start your furniture business are in estates in urban centres.

What Skills Do I Need to Start a Furniture Business?

There are certain skills and qualities that you need to have when you start a furniture business. Great furniture business owners usually possess one, if not all of these traits. Hone these skills to start a successful furniture business.

Carpentry skills

You cannot make furniture if you lack basic carpentry skills. You need to teach yourself these skills first before you can make furniture.

Interpersonal skills

As a furniture business owner, you need to know how to connect and interact with people so that you can better understand their needs and build a good network.

Project management skills

Since you will be doing different furniture projects, you need to learn how to handle this if you want things to love smoothly. 

Customer service

You must learn how to practice excellent customer service if you want to have satisfied customers. A happy customer will most definitely visit your premises again. 

Marketing skills

You need to employ good marketing strategies that will help you find clients and grow your customer base. I will go over these strategies in the next topic.

How Do I Attract Customers to a Furniture Business?

Your target customers are people who are looking to invest in good quality furniture.

They could be schools or institutions and homeowners.

Here’s how to attract customers to a furniture business and the strategies include:

Building relationships with customers

Take custom orders

Repair or show furniture hacks to customers on your YouTube channel or social media

Understand what customers want

Train your sales personnel

Sell furniture experience and not the furniture – ask yourself what do you want customers to feel before, during and after visiting your furniture store

Use a billboard/signage

Where you have your furniture business setup, you can erect signage or a billboard that will inform people about who you are, what you do and how they can get you.

Ask for referrals

Have a referral program, whereby if a client is satisfied with your furniture, they can recommend someone else to seek and obtain your services. 

Use social media to build connections and get customers

Use trendy furniture fabrics like microfibre that are easy to clean

Keep up with furniture trends – staying ahead of the curve means you know more than the next furniture store owner.

Customers find knowledge attractive so they’ll approach you with unique designs because they know you can do it.

Create a website

Your website should have good content about your furniture business and you should optimise it so that it appears on top of the list when someone searches for it on Google. 

Go to the press

Have your furniture business advertised on TV. You want to target more people who could potentially be your customers.

Word-of-mouth

Bring quality furniture products for people and build your brand through that. It is easier to get more clients this way.

When people can acknowledge how great designs are, they will most definitely tell people who you are and how they can get in touch with you for your services. Ask for referrals and testimonials to get more clients. 

Business Listings and Directories

Make your furniture business available on sites such as Google so that people can come online and search for your services easily.

Networking

Connect with furniture business owners, industry experts and participate in local and community events and meet new people.

Advantages of a Furniture Business

These are some of the benefits of starting a furniture business. 

  1. High-profit margin. With a furniture business, you will be making a lot of money than you would expect. With a markup of 40% on furniture, you will soon have thousands if not millions in your account.
  1. High customer retention rates. When a customer is satisfied with your designs and overall customer service, they will come back to visit your furniture business. 
  1. You can get referrals. You can easily get referrals with a furniture business when a customer is satisfied with your work. They will refer someone to you and this will expand your customer base.
  1. You can work from home. You do not have to open a storefront furniture business. You can run all your business activities behind a computer in the comfort of your home.

Disadvantages of a Furniture Business 

These are the problems and challenges that you will face when you start a Furniture business.

  1. A longer sales process. Selling a piece of furniture can take a while. From finding your clients, designing what they want, inspections and adjustments, it takes a while to close a deal.
  1. High competition. There are a lot of furniture businesses that have mushroomed everywhere. You need to provide quality if you want to stay on top of the competition.
  1. Difficult to motivate a team. Sometimes working with your team members can be difficult, especially if they lack morale. Always strive to keep them entertained. 
  1. Can be tiresome. Carpentry involves physical work. This can be quite tiresome if you do not have the physical stamina or the mental aptitude to take on these tasks. 

Mistakes to Avoid in a Furniture Business

These are the mistakes that you will probably be making when you start a furniture business. 

Bad location

Poor location hinders your business because your clients can’t find it and you face serious threats of theft. You need to fund a better location or insure yourself.

Poor quality furniture

Investing in poor quality furniture is a bad way to start a furniture business. You will not meet the quality standards of the market and this will leave you with no customers.

Poor customer service

Untimely delivery and not meeting customers’ needs is one example of poor customer service. Always strive to make sure your customers get the best experience with your business if you want them to come back.

Unfair pricing

If you overprice your furniture, customers will not buy from you and if you under-priced your furniture, your business will be running at a loss. Strike a balance to keep your pricing fair and profitable. 

Not marketing your business

Customers are the lifeblood of a business. Without them, a business fails to exist. If you do not market your business, you will not get your desired customers.

Creative and Unique Furniture Business Ideas

You want to come up with a unique business idea in the furniture line if you want to distinguish yourself from your competitors.

Here are some unique furniture business ideas to try today and they are:

  • Interior design business
  • A leather furniture business
  • Sale of office furniture 
  • An expatriate furniture business 
  • A home furniture business
  • A second-hand furniture yard
  • Bamboo artisan furniture 
  • Selling wood cutting tools
  • Furniture repair business
  • Upholstering services

FAQs on How to Start a Successful Furniture Business

  1. Is a furniture business profitable?

YES.

2. How do I make a furniture business profitable?

The following are ways to make a furniture business profitable and they include:

Market

Carry quality furniture

Offer competitive pricing

Have a trained sales team

Offer outstanding customer service

Provide satisfactory delivery of products

3. How much do furniture owners make?

Furniture owner makes up to 30M or more a year depending. Some make less

What industry is the furniture business in?

The furniture business is in the manufacturing industry.

4. Who’s the largest furniture dealer?

IKEA

The furniture industry keeps on thriving to the latest market trends.

In fact, it is expected to reach 374 billion dollars by 2026.

The demand for furniture services is high especially custom-made furniture.

Do you want to start a furniture business?

Are you in the furniture business? What are your experiences as a furniture store owner?

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Online Businesses / Work in Kenya