Everybody needs furniture, which is why it’s a $250 billion industry in the US alone. With a bit of investment, you could set up your own furniture store, help people outfit their homes, and grab a slice of that huge market.
Of course, starting a business is never easy, and you’ll need to plan and prepare. Lucky for you, this step-by-step guide lays out all you need to know and do to begin your successful entrepreneurial journey into furniture.
Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Before opening a furniture store, or starting any business for that matter, it’s important to first consider the benefits and hurdles.
Pros and cons
- High Demand — industry has seen steady growth of late
- Express Yourself — show your style with product choices
- Easily scalable — expand your product line, open new shops
- Great Responsibility — hiring/firing, curating furniture and more
- Major Investment — designers and woodworkers charge a lot
- Low Margins — High overhead due to costs of wages, retail space
Furniture industry trends
The US holds the largest share of the global furniture market. The largest two product segments, living room and dining room furniture, saw $77 billion in revenue in 2021, while online sales represent nearly a fifth of total furniture sales in the US.
Industry size and growth
Trends and challenges
Trends shaping the furniture industry include:
- Increasing online furniture sales
- Growing interest in eco-friendly furniture
- Workspaces becoming more flexible
- High demand for larger furniture as obesity level rises
Challenges in the furniture industry include:
- Rising cost of raw materials
- Supply chain issues
- High level of competition
What kind of people work in furniture stores?
How much does it cost to start a furniture store business?
The startup capital required to launch a furniture business can range from $5,000 to $60,000, with an average of just over $32,000. One thing you should know is that the start-up costs will depend upon your strategy when you’re setting up your business.
The highest costs are inventory, website development, marketing, and advertising. If you plan to set up a home-based online furniture store offering custom-made furniture based on client commissions, your start-up costs can be as low as $5,000. You could set up an online storefront through your own website or through third-party marketplaces such as Amazon, Etsy, Shopify, and eBay.
But if you intend to set up a physical, brick-and-mortar furniture store with off-the-shelf inventory, your costs could be as high as $60,000—even if all your items are second-hand or inexpensive.
Here’s a breakdown of expected startup costs:
|Start-up Costs||Ballpark Range||Average
|Licenses and permits||$200 - $400||$300
|Insurance||$250 - $700||$475
|Marketing and advertising||$1,800 - $5,000||$3,400
|Website||$1,000 - $5,000||$3,000
|Software||$250 - $500||$375
|Equipment||$1,000 - $4,000||$2,500
|Inventory ||$0 - $40,000||$20,000
|Store decor||$0 - $3,000||$1,500
|Hiring||$0 - $600||$300
|Miscellaneous||$500 - $800||$650
|Total||$5,000 - $60,000||$32,500
How much can you earn from a furniture store business?
Your revenue will depend on a variety of factors, including your prices, the size of your store, and sales capacity. But we’ve crunched the numbers for you and found that the average US furniture store makes about $285,000 per employee.
Starting out as a solopreneur working online from home you should expect to make maybe half that total in your first year or two, as you establish yourself and build a reputation. Assuming a 50% profit margin, that would leave you with a reasonable profit of more than $70,000.
Once you’ve established your brand, you should be able to meet that industry standard of $285,000 per employee. Of course, you’ll need to pay your three employees and the rent for your store, cutting your margin down to 15%. But still, with more than $850,000 in annual revenue, you’ll have a tidy profit of nearly $130,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
Like many retail businesses, there are some barriers to overcome in order to be successful and launch a brand that is sustainable and profitable. After all, if it were easy, everyone would do it. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Startup costs can be high if you intend to set up a fully stocked and furnished furniture store business from the get-go. The average store size is 6,000 square feet. Stocking everything does mean you’ll need a sizable investment.
- Entrenched competition may also discourage new entrants, as there are tens of thousands of businesses selling furniture both online and locally.
- Furniture sellers importing products from other countries have an advantage over local manufacturers in the US, mainly due to low production costs.
- Expertise is required to understand and therefore run the furniture store business. If the business owner doesn’t have this expertise, they will need to hire someone who does.
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Step 2: Hone Your Idea
Now that you know what’s involved in starting a furniture store, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Why? Identify an opportunity
To uncover a business opportunity, you need to research and survey your target market. Learn your customers’ buying journey and preferences before you invest in opening your furniture business. For example, you need to know if they prefer to buy online or from a local furniture store.
Research furniture stores in your area to examine their products, price points, and customer reviews, as well as what sells best. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a store that sells only locally-made furniture.
Furniture trends are also constantly changing, just like fashion. Therefore, you should find out what’s new in the furniture industry and beat your competitors to it. It’s a good idea to join furniture-related forums and email newsletters, relevant Facebook groups, and industry associations.
What? Determine your products or services
With the range of materials available today and plethora of styles, furniture design is more diverse than ever. While it’s tempting to sell everything and anything, it’s important to have a consistent brand identity as well. Choosing with your preferred materials and favored furniture items is a great starting point.
There might be an opportunity in offering eco-friendly furniture, as sustainability is a major consumer concern.
Offering furniture made from recycled material or sustainable or reclaimed wood can give you an advantage.
Or you could offer focus on furniture for a home office, as the pandemic has compelled many people to start working from home. There is a huge demand for manufacturing minimalistic and space-saving home-based furniture that can fit in a small room.
Here are some of the materials being used in furniture today:
- Wood composite
The type of material will depend upon what you’re manufacturing and your techniques. For example, you can manufacture an entire piece of furniture from plastic or steel if you don’t intend to use wood.
How much should you charge for furniture?
The price varies based on the type of furniture and target market. The cost of a pedestal could start from as low as $50, whereas the high-end bed or dining table and chairs made with ash wood or other uncommon, expensive materials can easily rack up a bill of $7,000 to $10,000.
Designers who have created a name for themselves and their product also charge a premium for their designs. Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
You can target both consumers and businesses. For consumers, you’ll mostly be targeting established professionals and new families, which you could find on Facebook and in relevant Facebook groups. For businesses you could look on LinkedIn and by searching your local Google Maps for offices that might be in need of new furniture.
Where? Choose your business premises
In the early stage of business development, you may want to run your business from your own home. Lots of first time business owners do this to keep their overhead expenses lower and improve their profit margins early on.
However, as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire employees and rent out a manufacturing facility and physical storefront.
Find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices. When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
- Central location accessible via public transport
- Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
- Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
- Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
- Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
- Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
- Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
- Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
- Including keywords, such as “furniture” or “home”, boosts SEO
- Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
- Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
- Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
- Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
- Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
- Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
- Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
- Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
- Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
- Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
- Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
- Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
- Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to furniture.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your furniture store will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
- Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
- General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
- C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
- S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using ZenBusiness’s online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.
Step 6: Register for Taxes
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
- Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
- SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
- Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
- Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
- Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
- Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a furniture business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.
Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits
Starting a furniture business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.
When you decide to get a physical location for your furniture store, you will need a certificate of occupancy. This certificate shows that you met all the zoning laws, local and national government regulations, and specific building codes.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.
You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.
This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.
If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.
Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account
Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your furniture business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
- General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
- Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
- Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
- Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
- Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
- Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
- Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
- Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
Step 11: Prepare to Launch
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
It’s a good idea to invest in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, such as SYSPRO, Global Shop Solutions, or WinMan, which offer integrated applications to manage and automate production, inventory, customer management, and billing.
- Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
- If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Some of your business will come from the casual passerby or online visitors, but still, you should invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
- Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area.
- Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
- Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Buy Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
- Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.
Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:
- Competitions and giveaways – Generate interest by offering prizes for customers who complete a certain action, such as 10% discount for purchases exceeding $1,000.
- Signage – Put up eye-catching signage at your store and website.
- Flyering – Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at industry events.
- In-Person Sales – Offer your furniture at local markets and trade shows.
- Sponsor events – You can pay to be a sponsor at events that are relevant to your target market
- Post a video – Post a video about your furniture. Use humor and maybe it will go viral!
- Limited edition – Offer a one-time version of your best custom-made piece of furniture.
- Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
- Create infographics – Post infographics and include them in your content.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your furniture store meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your furniture business could be:
- Support the local economy with entirely locally-made furniture
- Sustainable, high-end furnishings for your home and office
- Outfit your new home office with the best space-saving furniture options
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a furniture store, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in furniture for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in furniture. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.
Step 12: Build Your Team
You may not need to hire any employees if you are starting out small from home. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to recruit full-time workers to fill various job roles. The potential employees for a furniture store business include:
- Furniture Designers
- Customer Service Reps
- Admin and HR
- Sales Executives
- Marketing and PR
- Procurement Officer
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Start Making Money!
As the US economy recovers from the pandemic slump, consumers are likely to earn more disposable income and become more confident about making big-ticket purchases like new homes. This will boost demand for furniture and present great growth opportunities for furniture stores.
You’ll just have to find innovative ways to beat the competition, especially from the large furniture companies. You can do this by keeping your prices competitive and ensuring the good quality of your products. Now that you know all the steps required to start your furniture store, it’s time to get out there and start building your empire!
Furniture Store Business FAQs
Is selling furniture a good business?
Furniture is never out of demand, because it is an essential item for every household. It can generate a predictable flow of income for you. However, it will require business owners to have ample knowledge and expertise in the industry.
Is making furniture profitable?
Generally, furniture is a low-margin industry that is estimated to generate a net margin of 4.1%. While the gross margin is high at 45%, most furniture stores have to spend large sums of money on wages and rent because they need a large space to display inventory. However, if you only manufacture furniture to order, you can improve your bottom-line profit margin.
How do I make my furniture business successful?
To make your furniture business successful, you can focus on creating proprietary furniture designs and target a niche market segment. The market is saturated with many furniture sellers, so establishing a general furniture business with a broad target market is unlikely to succeed.
How can I increase furniture sales?
You can increase your furniture sales by setting up new avenues of sales. For example, if you only sell through your physical store, creating an eCommerce site and encouraging online sales will increase your revenue. Similarly, you may also consider other sales channels, including third-party marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy.