Getting your Business Level and Plumb
You posses innate creativity and carpentry school has sharpened your skills. Excellent opportunities exist for carpenters of every proficiency level to earn a sizeable income by opening a brick and mortar woodworking shop. Whether, a part- or full-time commitment, marketing courses have given you the framework to begin your new business boldly. No matter, if you’ve been employed by a big-box home improvement store, small local carpentry shop, or sub-contractor, if you are new to the business side of carpentry there are key elements you must consider when preparing to open your own doors. In order to maximize profit, acquiring basic business acumen is the first step to long-term success.
Define your Carpentry Niche
Poke around any online business directory and you see endless listings for carpenters. That’s it, just plain carpenters. And, that’s your competition. Assuming you intend to bring in new business, you need to separate yourself by defining your carpentry niche; custom cabinetry, high-end eco-friendly decks, perhaps business-to-business services. No matter the niche you choose, make it your primary business offering coupled with full-service carpentry skills as your secondary offering.
Define your Start-up Costs
How much capital will you need to start your business from the ground up? Cost of equipment, employees, advertising and transportation? Do you have access to seed money or will you seek financing? Unless you have a substantial non-retirement savings, seeking venture capital or angel investors may be key to getting your business off the ground.
Determine your Business Structure
Will your business be an LLC (Limited Liability Company), Sole Proprietorship, Corporation or Partnership? Once you define your structure, you’ll file your business with the office of the Secretary of State for your state.
Create your Business Plan
A business plan is essential if you intend to ask for bank or angel financing or venture capital. After you’ve completed the first two exercises in this list, you’ll be better equipped to package your plan. Your plan should illustrate:
- What type of work you’ll do.
- What type tools you’ll need.
- What kind of vehicle you’ll need.
- Whether you plan to lease, buy or build workspace
- How you will market your business
Do you have seed money to begin your business? If not, you need to secure funding. In addition to financing provided by traditional banks or credit unions, here are funding options you may not have thought of:
Find an Angel Investor. An angel investor is typically a single investor, who will take equity in your company (part ownership) in return for his investment.
Seek out Venture Capital. Typically more difficult (not impossible) to secure, individuals or businesses providing VC funding look for stake in high-risk growth startups and would like private equity in your company.
Apply for Permits & Licenses
Will you perform as a sub-contractor or general contractor? Be sure to apply for a business license with your local Chamber of Commerce and get to know area, hamlet, village or county Department of Buildings – you’ll rely heavily on their expertise when the time comes to apply for work permits and inspections.
Setting Up Office – Placing your Order with the Rubber Band Man
Whether you’ll work from your back-yard workshop or lease workspace, you’ll need to keep a base camp for your office activities such as estimating, drawing up contracts, filing paperwork, creating and maintaining invoices, tax records, etc. You may be just starting out but maintaining the utmost in professionalism is sure to keep you from losing profits and help you gain and keep satisfied customers.
Develop an Advertising/Marketing Plan
Cultivating new customers in today’s plugged-in world requires awareness of the advertising and marketing tools at your disposal and how to use them to your advantage. A few money-saving and simple techniques include maintaining free local search listings, advertising on Facebook and Twitter, and building and maintain free company website or blog in addition to vehicle advertising. Also, taking concise marketing courses will help you tremendously as you develop your business’ advertising plan.
Develop Estimates & Contracts
Accurate, well-fleshed out written estimates are a must in any service-based business. The same holds true for the contract you offer a client. Just as your estimate should make provisions for any additions, subtractions or substitutions to a potential job, your contract should include provisions for changes to a project during the course of a job.
You provide a preliminary estimate on a job to expand and create a mud room from an enclosed porch. When you arrive at the job-site, upon further inspection you find that the porch floor joists and original flooring are partially rotted changing the scope of your estimate and timeliness of the project.
Obstacles like these make it impossible to remain true to your original estimate without taking a loss. Addressing potential challenges within your standard contract allows you to realistically manage your projects, provide your client with a realistic estimate for their budget as well as helping to build and uphold your reputation and cultivate a satisfied client base.
Ready, Set; Grow your Business
You’ve got the skill, experience and willingness to work long and hard in the carpentry trade. If you are truly working to establish your company as a trusted local source for services and products, then you are well on your way to growing your carpentry business and cultivating your client.
Source by Michelle Suzette Jones