There are two major aspects of getting into the woodworking business. One, whether this is a feasible enterprise to get into, and second, whether you are suited for it.
Are you suited to be a woodworker?
These are some pointers that should help you figure this one out.
- What’s your skill-set. Do you have the necessary skills to do a great job and have people come looking for your services? If you are not there yet, wait and hone your skills some more till you are more confident.
- How’s your attitude. You need a certain attitude to be happy as a woodworker. Basically, woodworking should make you happy. It’s the same as it is for artists and artisans. Making money from your work is important, but it is primarily the work that makes them happy.
- Are you an artist. An aspiring artist doesn’t always know if they are going to make a ton of money from their paintings hanging on a gallery wall. They want to make art because its their calling, its their talent and it’s what they are best at. Do you enjoy woodworking for woodworking’s sake?
- There is scope for struggle and growth. If I can again call upon the example of an artist, you must know that there is a method to this madness. Do you have a plan for how you are going to promote your things, grow your sales, increase production etc.? You should know this before you really launch yourself full pelt into the business.
- Do you enjoy problem solving and challenges. As a woodworker you have to be someone who enjoys problem solving. Building something with wood is not so clear and cut. Every new project can be a challenge, specially if you are doing custom woodworking, which happens to me one of the most profitable field of woodworking.
- A business is a business. So all the caveats that apply to becoming an entrepreneur apply here as well. You ought to be ready to learn about running a business. That includes getting your head into marketing, promotions, developing a brand image, market research etc.
Is woodworking profitable?
The biggest hurdle to making a decent income with woodworking is finding a space that allows you to compete with the wood products available in the market. They are either mass manufactured or they are imports which allows them to be priced much cheaper. And the quality is not bad either.
Well, woodworking can be profitable if you follow some pointers. Some of these are applicable to most other kinds of businesses as well.
- Choose a niche. Unless you choose your niche very carefully, you will have to compete with the mass manufacturers and the stuff that comes in from China. They can do a bang up job of making most furniture and do it at a much lower cost than you would be willing to sell your work for. But they are probably ignoring a lot of niches.
- Custom work. Your best bet is to do something that is not being done on a mass scale and do it really well. For example, you can do custom jobs for people around you, or cater to a local demand. China may export furniture but they are not going to make fences for your garden.
- Research and/or create demand. You can make and sell stuff as long as you know there is a demand for it or you know how to create one. Creating a demand is all about making things that a person will desire and want rather than actually need it. They can be items of high utility as well that solve some problem of the buyer. These are the products that sell the best. The ones that make a person long for them or solve some problem of their’s.
- Market research is important. If you think it is going to be difficult finding work, you need to do some research. See what kind of opportunities exist around you. Some good old fashioned legwork will come in handy. Meet a few business owners who you think might bear a direct connection to your business for example architects and interiors designers. I know someone who profited a lot from a business relationship with an interior designer. She funnelled most of her clients and her own requirements for a job onto to him.
- B2B and B2C selling. Be open to the opportunities around you as well. For example, if you see a lot of food joints opening around you, you can delve in a business to business relationship and make things like napkin holders, chairs etc. There are two major kinds of selling for a business, B2C and B2B. These stand for Business to Consumer and Business to Business, respectively. Both can be profitable depending on where you find more work. Usually B2B means bigger projects and long term commitments, which could also means more money, or at least work for a longer duration.
- Explore all outlets. Selling online, through retail stores and at craft exhibitions are more options of making money with woodworking. All of these methods expose you to more potential customers.
Now it all depends on finding work or selling more. If you want to be an entrepreneur you ideally want to find something that delivers a great wage for every hour of your work. Even better, you want something that you can put on automation. It should be the kind of work, that once you are done setting up to perfection, it doesn’t need you that much anymore.
How can you achieve this with woodworking? Read how to grow and automate a woodworking business.
How to run a business in the off-line world
Everyone is keen to jump on the online business band wagon. But there are so many old school business ideas that work and will continue to work in the future. A good old fashioned woodworking business is definitely on the cards.
Make things people need around you.
Your biggest competitors are the mass manufacturers and the goods coming in from China. You will need to tap into a demand that is not being met by these people. There are 2 ways to do this. Do custom work for people. There is a great need to build things that are not available as readymade woodworking products. This is true for both business establishment and homes. So if your skill level supports it, get into custom woodworking.
The second method will be to make things in wood that are usually not available in wood. People have found roaring success in making small accessory items in wood from phone cases to hairbrushes. Think small utility items. It is a very successful niche to be in. And if you happen upon a idea for a new woodworking craft, you can have a great time promoting it and making money off it.
Identify the people you want to sell to
When it comes to selling on the offline world, old promotion methods like direct marketing will work well, specially now that less people do it. The main thing for a direct marketing campaign to work is to identify a need. Usually people do a blanket coverage with direct marketing. That’s because there is no clear way to identify and target specific people.
If you run an online ad campaign on Instagram, you will be able to specify demographics like location, age, interests etc., tick a few boxes and expect your ads to come before the right audience. Not so simple when it comes to a direct marketing campaign.
However, all is not lost. You can access a certain profile of people by identifying places and mediums for distribution. This is how it was done and still is. Certain kinds of people go to or live in certain location based on their interests and other factors. They do different things, take part in different activities. You can identify these factors by observing and knowing who you want to interest with your product.
Reach out and offer more services
Sometimes we don’t realise that a woodworking business is not always about selling new things. Restoration and repair work are very sought after niches as well. So while a consumer can buy a piece of furniture made in China, no is coming from China to repair that furniture for him.
This is definitely a smaller niche and you are not going to make a lot of money doing just repair work unless we are talking expensive furniture restoration. But this is also one of the ‘ins’ in the business. It allows you to get in and procure work.
In fact, follow up businesses are a big money makers for a lot of products you buy. Car makers make money with the spare parts they sell. Home appliances water filters and washing machines have annual maintenance contracts. Carpet and upholstery cleaning is a profitable business to run if you know what you are doing.
Look into making smaller wood crafts
The bigger corporations often miss out on the smaller and the more personal things. They tend to stick with the main sellers. For example, they will make the sofas and the wardrobes but will neglect birdhouses, small sheds for pets etcetera. This doesn’t mean that you are restricted to only making small wood crafts.
Look for more ways to get business
Getting people to buy small from you in a also a way to get known by new customers for larger needs. Apart from that small wood crafts can also be big sellers with a decent profit margin. Easy to make, easy to sell is a good recipe for a great income.