While many furniture pieces are now mass-produced and made of lesser materials, solid wood furniture is still sought after by many. A wood furniture refurbishing business finds old wood furniture pieces that have been thrown out or neglected and breathes new life into the piece.
From a simple refinishing to a complete custom makeover, wood refurbishing allows an individual to connect with customers who have the same appreciation for furniture that was built to last. A wood refurbisher will wear many hats while working from their home garage until they find the groove in their business that allows them to expand their team. However, the joy of working with a new piece of wooden furniture every day makes every bit of effort worth it.
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Learn how to start your own Wood Refurbishing Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Start a wood refurbishing business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Wood Refurbishing Business
- Form your Wood Refurbishing Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Wood Refurbishing Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Wood Refurbishing Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Wood Refurbishing Business
- Get Wood Refurbishing Business Insurance
- Define your Wood Refurbishing Business Brand
- Create your Wood Refurbishing Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your wood refurbishing business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a wood refurbishing business?
The costs involved in opening this type of business will largely depend on what tools you have available in your garage. If you already have many of the needed tools handy, this will significantly decrease the costs to get started. Some basic items needed to get started include a sander, sandpaper (180 grit and 220 grit minimum), scarper, screwdrivers (various sizes, both Phillips and flat head), paint buckets, painters tape, brushes (large, medium, small, and detail size), rollers, wood stain, polyurethane, wood paint, work table, gloves, respirator, and furniture.
If you did not have any of the tools to get started, the total costs involved would range from $600 to $1,000. Additionally, you would need to find furniture to practice on in order to hone your skills. This could be furniture you already have in the house, something you find on the side of the road, or something purchased from a thrift store. Starting prices can range anywhere from $0 to $100 per piece.
What are the ongoing expenses for a wood refurbishing business?
Ongoing expenses will often be your supplies and materials. You will quickly build a nice selection to use on your wood furniture. However, you will also go through some materials more quickly than others. Some of these recurring expenses include, but are not limited to, purchasing more wood stain, paint, painter’s tape, and sandpaper.
Who is the target market?
The target market for a wood furniture refurbishing business are individuals who are filling out their home with sturdy furniture pieces. These individuals crave original furniture that is not mass marketed and built to withstand the test of time. Since real wood furniture that has been refurbished is often more costly than other furniture options, these individuals tend to be well-off in their professional career or retired. The demographics of this market include those who are 35 to 60 years old with an income of $60,000+. A particular interest does not typically define this group, but they do all have a love for real wooden furniture.
How does a wood refurbishing business make money?
This type of business makes money by finding real wood furniture for as cheap as possible. Once the furniture is found, you will restore the piece and make it look incredible using common woodworking products. Once the piece has been restored to its former glory, you will flip it for a nice profit. This can be anywhere from $50 to $200 or more, depending on the piece.
How much can you charge customers?
You need to charge what your time is worthwhile also covering your costs for supplies and the furniture. For the time and tools required, it is fair to start at $50 per hour. If you purchase a piece from a thrift store for $25, put $15 worth of products into it, and spend three hours on the piece, you are at a total material cost of $40 and labor cost of $150. You can easily charge $250 for this piece and gain $60 in profit.
How much profit can a wood refurbishing business make?
The earning potential with this type of business is unlimited. Since some pieces may come to you free, and you can make hundreds in profits on just one piece. Other furniture pieces may come to you at a small cost, so they may only provide a small profit. If you can refurbish, list, and sell even just 10 pieces of furniture in your first month at a $50 or more profit, you can earn $500 in profit. This can make a significant dent in your initial startup costs. If you keep on this trend of 10 pieces at $50 profit per month, you can earn $6,000 in profit in your first year. The more you sell and the higher your profit margin, the more profit you will make every year.
How can you make your business more profitable?
The best way to make your business more profitable is to use as much free furniture as possible, shop for supply discounts, and hone your skills. The less money you have to put into each piece, the more you are going to make. If you get a free piece of furniture, use it! There is nothing wrong with asking your family or friends if they have any furniture they no longer want in their home.
In addition to using free furniture, purchase your stains, paints, brushes, and other supplies when there are sales. You can check big box stores and compare prices with local businesses. Find where your most commonly used supplies are cheapest and inquire when they do sales on these items. Once the sale begins, stock up!
Finally, by honing your skills, you will significantly decrease the amount of time you need to invest to complete a project. As you refurbish more wooden furniture, you will identify how to complete the task at hand more efficiently. This means you can finish more projects in less time. However, remember to keep charging appropriately. Just because something takes you 30 minutes now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t charge for the three hours of work it took you when you were learning these skills. You deserve to be paid fairly for the skills you have mastered.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your wood refurbishing business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
- LLC Taxes
- Sole Proprietorship vs LLC
- LLC vs Corporation
- LLC vs S Corp
- How to Start an S Corp
- S Corp vs C Corp
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Open net 30 accounts
Net 30 accounts are used to establish and build business credit as well as increase business cash flow. With a net 30 account, businesses buy goods and repay the full balance within a 30-day term.
NetMany net 30 credit vendors report to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our best net 30 vendors, guide and start building business credit.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a wood refurbishing business
The best platforms to promote and market this type of business include Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. The target audience can be found on these platforms looking for new information about wooden furniture and deriving inspiration for how to decorate their home. Instagram and Pinterest are excellent platforms for sharing before and after pieces in addition to tips and tricks on how to maintain wood furniture. YouTube allows you to promote your business by sharing your process, educating the community, and earning some ad revenue on the side. Furthermore, creating an online store via Etsy can help further drive traffic.
How to keep customers coming back
The best way to attract and retain customers is to get your finished pieces out into the world. Use a variety of ways to share them with your friends and family. Grow your social media accounts by using popular hashtags. If you open an Etsy store, make sure you allow special requests and custom orders. Otherwise, you may lose out on a customer.
In your local area, you can set up a booth at farmer’s markets and other local festivities that allow booths. This is the type of product your customers want to see and feel before they make a purchase. Instead of waiting for them to come to you, you may need to go to them first.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2022 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
Start a Wood Refurbishing Business in your State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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Is this Business Right For You?
This business is right for an individual who doesn’t mind starting small in their home and growing into a full-time wood refurbisher. This business will likely be a side hustle for at least a year or two, depending on the growth potential in your local area. Those in larger cities will have an earlier time accessing the target market than those who are in small, rural areas.
In the beginning, this business will take some blood, sweat, and tears to build. Unless you have help from the very beginning, you will be taking on every project, material shopping trip, social media campaign, and online store update on your own. However, the end result will be worth every second.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a wood refurbishing business?
You will get up somewhat early in the morning and go find your next piece of furniture. This will either be on the side of the road or at a thrift store. Once you find the piece, you will bring it home, clean it up, and get pictures and videos to show the piece’s initial state. Then, you get to work sanding and taking progress pictures.
Once the piece is sanded, you will decide if it needs an oil, stain, or paint. As you are waiting for the first coat of product to dry, you will tease your followers on social media with some progress pictures and videos to peak interest. If you have any inquiries, you will answer those. Additionally, you will check in on any other furniture pieces you may have been working on previously. Do those other pieces need another coat, or are they finally ready to be listed?
Once you have finished tending to other tasks, it’s time to get back to the piece at hand and add that second coat. From there, it is a waiting game. Once the piece is dry, it is time to get the best product pictures possible and write an attractive description. Now, you put the piece online and try to get others to share your latest creation.
Once the piece is up, you need to interact with other furniture refurbishers online. You will learn about the latest techniques and see some other great pieces. By now, the sun is setting and you will check in on your analytics to understand how profitable your business has been compared to other days.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful wood refurbishing business?
The best thing about this business is you really do not need any specific skill set or past experiences to get started. Being comfortable with tools and knowing the difference between a Phillips head and a flat head will certainly help. However, all you really need is a passion for restoring wood to its former glory.
What is the growth potential for a wood refurbishing business?
The growth potential for a wood furniture refurbishing business is dependent on how much time you invest and who you are targeting. This has the potential to grow into a six-figure business if you hone your skills and target the right people in your local area and online. Fortunately, you are not limited to the area where you live. You do, however, need to learn how to ship out these pieces if you sell them online. Your first year may only land you a couple of thousand dollars in profit, but it will allow you to gain the testimonials you need and build client relationships that produce return customers.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a wood refurbishing business?
One of the best ways to grow your inventory without spending a penny on furniture is to monitor any bulk pick up days your local garbage company schedules. Once your neighbors put their furniture on the side of the road for pick up, it is fair game. You will be amazed at some of the high-quality furniture others are willing to throw away. Aside from paying for gas, this will allow you to grow your inventory for next to nothing.
If your area does not have a bulk pick up day, consider visiting local thrift stores and second-hand shops. You will find a wide array of low and high-quality pieces. While you will need to search through the store to find these treasures, you often will find pieces for less than $30 that are perfect to add to your inventory.
Finally, make sure you learn how to identify real wood from veneer or laminate. A few telltale signs that the furniture you are looking at is not real wood is the weight, joints, and grain. Real wood is incredibly heavy. Lightweight pieces are not made of real wood. Joints on real wood are often complicated in order to securely build the piece. Simple joints are often made of corkboard. Furthermore, you can feel the grain pattern on wood and see its depth. Veneer and laminate have a grain pattern painted on the surface.
How and when to build a team
The best time to assemble a team for this business is as soon as possible. A single piece of furniture can take one person several weeks to complete whereas just one other person can help cut that time in half. Due to the nature of the business, your team will need to be local. The closer they are to you, the better. You can employ anyone in your social circle who is interested, dependable, and reliable. If you don’t know anyone who fits the description, network online and in person until you find someone who does.
Your team can do more than just assist with refurbishing furniture. You can find someone who manages your online profiles and stores for you which allows you to focus solely on finding the best furniture deals that will turn the highest profit.