How to Start a Furniture Refinishing Business | A Step-by-Step Guide

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If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide for how to start a furniture refinishing business (otherwise called a “furniture flipping business”), you’re in the right place. Here, we’ll discuss the startup costs, what a typical day is like, and the steps I’d recommend for how to start a furniture refinishing business.

It’s likely, if you’re interested in starting a furniture refinishing business, you may have seen others who run a similar business. You might be crafty, handy, and creative, and you’re looking for a way to earn an income doing something you enjoy. To see this content in video format, check it out here:

What is a Furniture Refinishing Business? An Overview

If you’ve ever seen damaged furniture, you know there are likely tons of waste because most people treat furniture like it’s disposable. When couches, tables, or chairs get dirty, stained, broken, or unloved, many people sit it out on the curb or donate them, and buy new ones.

Sometimes, the discarded or damaged furniture still has good “bones” or there nice original design elements that can be refinished and reused–that’s where a furniture refinishing business would come in. Furniture refinishing businesses find antiques, furniture that’s no longer wanted, and even items that have been trashed, and they refinish them, so they can be used like a new piece of furniture!

Who is a Furniture Refinishing Business right for?

An image of refinished furniture

Furniture refinishing businesses require some skills and interest in order to make it work. I’d recommend the furniture refinishing business for:

  • Those who are crafty or handy
  • Those who are creative and can see beyond the current state of an item
  • People who are willing to do the math and make sure they get a return on their investments
  • Those who have empathy and are prepared to make furniture for others–based on the market demand (rather than their personal preferences)
  • Those who have sales and negotiation skills to buy well-priced furniture and to sell the furniture

What’s a typical day in a Furniture Refinishing Business like?

Before narrowing down your business idea, it’s nice to know what a typical day would be like. In a furniture refinishing business, there are many different tasks you would need to do, and it’s up to you to distribute them across your days, weeks, and months.

A day in the furniture refinishing business would vary quite a bit depending on your audience. If you decide to do majority custom work, then you’d have more client-facing tasks before creating the furniture.

For most furniture refinishing businesses, a typical day would consist of stocking their inventory of damaged furniture, planning design ideas, doing market research and deciding what styles and types customers are looking for, refinishing furniture, networking with vendors and potential customers, listing completed furniture in online listings or setting up to sell the furniture locally, and selling furniture.

I recommend business owners of all types to divide their time into four: acquiring work, doing work, managing work, and strategizing about work. Here is how it breaks down in the furniture refinishing business…

Acquiring the work: When you’re acquiring the work, you’d be looking for places customers buy the furniture you make, setting up displays, setting up ads, or marketing your work online to attract potential buyers.

Doing the work: When you’re doing the work, you’d be upholstering, painting, sanding, and repairing the furniture, so it’s marketable.

Managing the work: Once you get to a certain point in your business, you may want to hire someone to help with a component of your business. In these instances, it’s important to oversee the tasks in order to maintain the quality standard and properly regulate the use of your materials and supplies. Prior to hiring, it’s important to prepare by creating training materials, so when it’s time, you won’t experience much work stoppage.

Strategizing about the work: Working ON the business and working IN the business are both important things every entrepreneur needs to do. In the furniture refinishing business, working ON the business would include planning the business, analyzing the competition and their strengths and weaknesses (performing a SWOT analysis), and finding opportunities in the market to grow your furniture refinishing business.

Often times, entrepreneurs can get focused on one component of their business (like doing the work or acquiring the work), and they end by either having lots of customers and poor service or having great service and no customers. In order to ensure you have a balance and healthy company, it’s important to divide your time between these four functions.

Who is the target market for a Furniture Flipping Business?

refinished furniture for an office space

The target market for the furniture refinishing business is vast: business-to-consumer, business-to-business, and government.

Business-to-Consumer

Furniture refinishing for residential customers means you would refinish items for households, gifts, and day-to-day use for consumers.

Business-to-Business

Businesses often need office chairs, office desks, organizational furniture, and decorative pieces to make their work spaces comfortable and productive. You could find furniture to refinish for business use.

Government

This market is usually overlooked, but the government also purchases furniture from reliable retailers. If you can establish credibility and learn about how to respond to government proposals, you could sell furniture items to the government. Here is a course on how to respond to government requests for proposal if you’re interested in targeting the government for your products.

How does a Furniture Flipping Business make money?

Products: Furniture refinishing businesses most commonly make their money from the furniture products they recreate, however, there are also other streams of income that can be added. They can also create digital courses on interior design topics, furniture refinishing, recycling, green living, or other topics that would be relevant and helpful to their target audience. You could also sell products that would help with caring for your products like furniture cleaner, protectors, and other things.

Services: In addition to productsyou can make money by selling your services. You can choose delivery options for your furniture that add convenience. You can charge consulting fees when you’re working on custom pieces. You can teach live classes, do speaking engagements, or even offer maintenance on furniture. There are many more service options you can do if you brainstorm a little.

Events: Furniture refinishing events can be fun. You can have events to showcase your furniture. You can have competitions to challenge others in your industry, and you can have networking events. You can do some really cool events that help bring brand awareness, sales, and collaborations.

Affiliate partnerships: With continued work in your business, you will likely find yourself referring customers to other vendors. For example, maybe you specialize in residential furniture, but you have people who come every now and again that want commercial furniture. Or, maybe, you specialize in leather furniture and you find yourself referring customers for a special leather cleaner.

Instead of simply referring customers for free, you can negotiate an affiliate agreement with the vendor, and get paid commissions for your referrals. There are many companies who have formal affiliate agreements in place, and there are affiliate networks who help companies to get affiliate programs in place as well.

You can work with affiliates to sell your products or become an affiliate to earn from referrals you make. If you’re interested in learning more about affiliate marketing, my #1 recommended training is Wealthy Affiliate, and I offer you 7 days of free coaching there when you sign up here.

What is the growth potential in a Furniture Refinishing Business?

refinished living room furniture

Since most households buy furniture and there are very few schools who teach furniture refinishing, there’s huge growth potential for entrepreneurs who take up the furniture refinishing business. If you take the time to hone your trade, you could compete with retailers of new furniture and refinished furniture, and create for yourself many market advantages.

What are the skills you’ll need to make a Furniture Refinishing Business work?

To make a furniture refinishing business work, you’ll need skills like:

  • The ability to see past the current flaws of a piece of furniture, and creatively form a marketable vision for it
  • The ability to do market research so you can stay aware of what customers are looking for
  • Marketing skills to consistently bring in customers or retain existing ones
  • Sales and negotiation skills
  • Math skills sufficient to create a budget, track your spending, and make prices that ensure you make a profit
  • Basic legal skills so you can know when to create contracts, when to seek an attorney, and how to enforce breaches

Many of the skills required to run a furniture refinishing business can be picked up at Udemy. Take a look here…

Udemy Furniture Refinishing CourseCheck out this course and others to improve your furniture refinishing and business skills here.

What are the costs involved with a Furniture Refinishing Business?

Starting a furniture refinishing business can be a very low cost startup. You’d want to spend money on:

  • Your website
  • Training on marketing and advertising online
  • and inventory of furniture and supplies to refinish it

The website and training costs $359 at Wealthy Affiliate, my #1 recommended internet marketing community where I personally create training and coach entrepreneurs.  $600 can be set aside for advertising costs and $1000 can be used for inventory. This would enable you to get started for $2000, then as time goes on, you can continue reinvesting from your sales and growing the business.

What are the steps involved in starting a Furniture Refinishing Business?

Here are the steps I recommend for starting a business of any type customized for the furniture refinishing business:

1. Validate your Idea

If you’re interested in the furniture refinishing business, it’s likely, you may enjoy refinishing furniture, but you may not currently be doing it with the market’s demands in mind, and that’s quite a  bit different. Some people enjoy refinishing furniture as a hobby or “crafty” thing, but when it’s time to scale it into a business (which is much more disciplined), they don’t enjoy it so much.

You’d have to try out whether or not you enjoy refinishing furniture as a business, and validate your idea. When you’re done with this phase, you should know whether this business model will work for you, and whether you can produce enough to meet your financial goals.

2. Prioritize Your Business

Once you’ve validated that the concept can work well for you, then it’s time to make the business a priority. You have to set aside time and money for the business.

3. Build Your Brand

When you start out, no one will know your business exists, so it’s important to begin establishing a reputation or brand for your business. You’ll want to choose a color palette, logo, and standard that will stand on its own, so when people see or hear of your business, they’ll want to do business with you.

4. Start Getting Leads and Traffic

Once you have your idea validated, your business prioritized, and your branding aligned, it’s time to start your sales pipeline by prospecting and attracting potential customers. The internet is a great tool for filling your sales pipeline and attracting ideal customers to your products.

Get the training, support, and tools to your business online here. Get started for free. No billing info required.

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5. Convert the Traffic into Customers

Once you start attracting customers to your business, you’ll notice emails, website inquiries, online sales, and even people stopping by (if you have a local store). If you don’t have a process in place, you can have a bottleneck where you have more interest than you can service–that’s why it’s important to pre-plan the conversion process to ensure you can satisfy customers even when the demand grows.

6. Form Your Business Legally

Once you’re getting consistent sales, then it becomes more of a liability issue and you’ll be subject to higher taxes if you’re not incorporated. I recommend you incorporating after you have proof of concept in terms of sales, but if you decide you’re ready to “stick it out” with the business prior, then go for it. I recommend Swyft Filings as my #1 place for incorporating online and you can see why in my Swyft Filings review here.

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7. Organize Your Books

As your sales pick up, it’s important to organize your finances. You’ll want to make sure to do a business budget, track your income and expenses, and use tools that make that easy for you.

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8. Get Your Office Supplies

In addition to organizing your finances, you’ll also find that you’ll need ways to scan documents, fax documents, and maximize your productivity in your work space. Similar to shopping for school supplies, you’ll need to shop for office supplies to ensure your able to work at your workspace productively.

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9. Systemize Your Process

How to Start a Furniture Refinishing Business Pinterest PinOnce you’re in operation for a little while, you’ll start to see patterns in things you do. Maybe you send out invoices the same way. Maybe you have a frequency for blogging or setting up ad campaigns. Maybe you have a specific way you refinish chairs.

You’ll want to record your processes to ensure you can easily train others on these systemized processes. You’ll also want to consider how you can systemize processes that aren’t currently scalable–this will help you prepare for hiring and scaling.

In an interview between Tim Ferris and Gary Vaynerchuk, they were asked advice on scaling from one person up. Tim gave an exercise I think you should consider in this step. He said buy a plane ticket to go on vacation in one year, and over the next year, plan how you can empower everyone in your organization to operate without you.

10. Reinvest and Scale

As you’re getting money, hopefully, you’ll soon reach the point where you have your operating expenses covered and money left over. Some entrepreneurs would choose to use the “excess” to give themselves a bonus check, but I want to advise that you don’t do that.

Instead, reinvest in your business. Consider investing the money into:

  • Advertising
  • Improving the quality of your products and services
  • Growing brand awareness
  • Getting more educated and skilled
  • Or, buying products and services that will make you more efficient or improve your return on your investment

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Ready to Start Your Furniture Refinishing Business?

The goal of this article was to show you how to start a furniture refinishing business. I’m hoping this step-by-step guide was very helpful for you.

I explain many of the business growth concepts in much more detail in my free Business Growth Blueprint E-course and my full video course on creating your full minimum viable business plan at Wealthy Affiliate.  You can get access to my e-course and all of my free bonuses by signing up here. You’ll also get 7 free days of coaching with me, 10 lessons of internet marketing training, and two free websites you can try out for free. Let’s get started building your Furniture Refinishing Business!

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