Shippers Guide is the learning page of MMS Plus newspaper. Here you learn the 5Ws and most important ‘H’ on various aspects of shipping. This week, we will take you through a detailed process of how to start a Custom design furniture business in Nigeria.
If you are looking for a business that has the potential to generate profit in no time, furniture business is one such business. Practically, there’s literally no home in Nigeria without a piece of furniture in it.
Furniture is conspicuous and hardly will you enter an office or a home without seeing one kind of furniture or the other. What that implies is that as an investor you will never run out of order.
However, being a custom design furniture entrepreneur is different from every other furniture maker prevalent in our neighbourhood. It is adding class to the furniture business, creating a unique design that cannot be seen anywhere. It is giving your customers, products that would make their friends and neighbours ask who made the furniture for them that matters.
In the line of furniture, there are lots of opportunities, you have the office furniture, the kitchen, the sitting room, dinning set, wardrobes, dressing table, beds and so on. We should note here that the art of furniture is different from interior decoration. Though the country due to porous borders and negligence by some agencies of government is now subjected to a lot of substandard furniture, the difference is always clear for those locally made, as they tend to be stronger and more durable.
This goes a long way to confirm that furniture business is an essential industry that meets the need of many people in Nigeria. Let’s look past homes to offices, churches, mosques, and other establishments in Nigeria, these places cannot exist without furniture.
To put together masterpiece furniture, it cost many resources. The good news is that you don’t need to learn furniture making before you can invest in the furniture business.
In addition, Nigerians are beginning are more willing to try new things. It’s a competition of how has the best furniture in their home, people want a masterpiece and luxury furniture unlike before. Hence, the furniture business has evolved beyond using cheap woods or inferior materials for production.
Most Nigerian furniture makers have woken up to these new realities and are beginning to equip themselves. They are learning how to make custom-design furniture to meet up and surpass international standards.
Also, you must note that there are several companies in Nigeria involved in furniture making and you need a good market penetration strategy to thrive. However, there’s always room for any businessman who knows his onion.
What does it take to start this business in Nigeria and how can you begin? These questions and more are what this article provides answers to. So, take your time to read between the lines and ask questions in the comment section if you have any.
Cost To Consider When Starting A Furniture Business
Cost of structuring your business (registration, business consulting, etc)
The cost of getting relevant license and permits from the government
Cost of renting or acquiring a workshop and showroom
The cost of equipment and raw materials
Marketing and advertising expenses
Cost of creating a website or drafting a business plan (if you cannot do them yourself)
Cost of training
With 2-3 million Naira in place, you should be able to get your furniture business up and running.
See Also: Biography of Ibukun Awosika, the founder of Sokoa Chairs Centre Limited
How To Start Furniture Making Business In Nigeria
Step One – Select A Niche
First and foremost, you need to identify the niche you want to focus on and be known for. And this includes the type of materials you want to use such as: metal, upholstery or the regular wood.
It’s also imperative to identify your target audience. Do you want to focus on residential, office, or resort furniture? If you have the capital and required resources, you can invest in all of them.
Part of selecting a niche is to also decide if you’ll only be serving your local market or both local and international market. This process will help you streamline your goals and objectives before starting out.
Before selecting a niche, do a proper market analysis of the most in-demand furniture and choose appropriately. Study your competitors to find out what they lack and include them in your designs.
Additionally, furniture business keeps evolving and there’s always a demand to move with the trend. Hence, ensure your decision is flexible so as to switch when the need arises.
After selecting your niche, choose the type of furniture business you want to explore.
Basically, there are two types of the furniture business in Nigeria:
1. Furniture Manufacturing
Here is the type of furniture business where you are making the furniture yourself and selling directly to your customers. If you don’t know how to make the furniture, you can hire skilled hands to make the furniture while you handle the marketing and sales.
In this type of furniture business, you purchase the materials yourself or get it supplied to your workshop. And, your employees come up with several custom designs requested by clients.
Alternatively, you could make different custom designs and then advertise to your target market. This type is better because it helps you make more profit and your creativity will not be restricted as you can always construct any design that comes to mind or requested for.
2. Buying And Selling Of Furniture
Here is another type of furniture business. Unlike the first one, this type of furniture business involves buying furniture from a manufacturer and reselling for a profit.
This type does not require much capital to begin and it’s a good way to start the business. Basically, you can purchase from a local manufacturer or company in Nigeria and resell it to your customers. You can also import the furniture from neighbouring countries and overseas and resell it to your customers.
A good way to begin this type of furniture business is to open an online store and several social media handles, take pictures of the furniture and post them. Once a customer shows interest in them, bargain a good price with them, then place an order for the furniture and make a profit.
Step Two: Draft A Business Plan
After selecting a niche, the next thing is to draft out your business plan. Basically, a business plan contains the long term goals and objectives of your business and how you intend to achieve them. You cannot underrate the power of a compelling business plan. Apart from the fact that a good business plan can help you secure funding, it also helps you stay focus on your long term goals.
You may ask, what if I cannot write a business plan by myself? Well, many aspiring entrepreneur always feel it is difficult to draft a business plan but that’s not true. Nevertheless, if you cannot draft it yourself, you can get the service of someone who can.
But, it is always better to write your business plan yourself because by doing so, you will be grounded on the information stated therein and follow it holistically.
Usually, below are the basic information that should appear in your business plan:
An overview of your furniture business
General company description
A marketing plan
An operational plan
The best way to write a business plan is to study any business plan online and use it as a guide to write yours. You don’t have to write everything at once. Just resolve to write something every day and within a short period of time, your business plan will be ready.
Step Three – Learn How To Make Custom Design Furniture
If you would love to start making furniture by yourself probably because you can’t afford to pay people or you just want to have the basic knowledge, you will have to learn how to.
Normally, there are local furniture makers in Nigeria you can learn from. It will also interest you to know that some people actually learn furniture making online just by watching several YouTube videos and staying dedicated to practicing it.
Another way to learn is to attend a furniture making school anywhere in Nigeria or abroad, as you deem fit. Once you start learning, you will obviously have to purchase your own equipment to practice. The prices of these equipment varies due to quality.
Typically, there are numerous equipment used in a furniture manufacturing company.
But for starters, here are the major tools you’ll need to purchase.
Marker or Pencil
The learning period is different and depends on who and where you are learning from. Basically, it takes a year or two to become perfect in the art of furniture making.
Step Four – Register Your Furniture Business With CAC
In Nigeria, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) is the recognised body in charge of business registrations. You cannot run a structured business in Nigeria without having your business name on the CAC portal. So, what do you need to get your furniture business registered with CAC?
First and foremost, pick a name that best describe your business and head to CAC’s website to search if the name has not been registered by another person. If the name is available, reserve it.
Thereafter, provide the required information and begin the registration process proper. Some of the required information are your name, residential and office address, phone number, email address, etc. The information depends on the type of registration you are going for. You can either register as a business name or a limited liability company (LLC).
Over the years, aspiring entrepreneurs encounter challenges while registering their business themselves. Hence, it is advisable to get the service of an expert to help you out.
One of the firms Nigerians trust for business registration is ReDahlia. ReDahlia is located at 43B, Emina Crescent Off Toyin Street, Ikeja Lagos. Interestingly, you can register your business with them regardless of your location. Just send the requirements to them via email and your certificate will be delivered to your location within 3-10 working days.
Step Five – Get A Workshop And Showroom
The next step is to either rent or acquire a space where the manufacturing will be done. Preferably, get a space close to your showroom for easy movement of finished furniture.
Alternatively, you can get a bigger space that can occupy both your workshop and showroom. Basically, a showroom is a space where you showcase your furniture for prospective customers to see.
It is also advisable to get a space close to a busy road so that whoever passes by can see your work. As a matter of fact, you cannot afford to open your showroom in a remote area because the purpose of the showroom will be defeated.
Additionally, if you are importing furniture from abroad, you may only need to get a showroom because you wouldn’t need a workshop since you are only dealing in ready made furniture.
Step Six – Hire Competent Furniture Makers
This step is necessary depending on the type and size of your furniture business. If you don’t have a furniture-making skill, you will certainly have to hire skilled furniture makers to make your furniture.
On the other hand, if you are a furniture maker yourself, you may start alone but as your business grows, hire the service of competent furniture makers to work with you. Obviously, you need to put different beautiful designs in your showroom and you need skilled furniture makers to join you as you grow.
Step Seven – Brand Your Furniture
Gone are the days where you don’t find imprint on furniture. Today, furniture makers now add their company name and phone number to their furniture.
By doing this, you are differentiating your brand from others. Actually, someone can see one of the pieces of furniture you made and indicate interest in having one.
So, rather than looking for someone to give them your contact details, they can easily get your contact just by looking at the furniture. Usually, the branding is done with gold ink and stamped where people can easily find it.
Step Seven – Market Your Furniture
It’s very likely that you will not be the first furniture business in your area, hence you need to find something extra that will differentiate you. Find a unique spot in the market and penetrate it.
Also, devise a good marketing strategy that will make your target market begin to look your way. There are several ways to market your furniture to attract your target customers.
Here are some of the ways to market your finished furniture:
1. Connect With Different Establishments
Organizations, hotels, government parastatals, churches, schools, and mosques are good places to start. Design a brochure that contains your designs, then distribute it across these establishments.
Don’t just drop off your brochure with these establishments. The best thing to do is to get the contact of someone when you visit these places and follow up with them.
Furthermore, if any of your friends or family member works in a reputable organisation, tell them to introduce you to their bosses because recommendations are highly effective.
2. Attend Big Events And Network
If you want to grow fast in your business, it is usually good, to begin with, people that can pay for your furniture and have the potential of buying larger quantities.
When you attend such events, don’t be afraid to talk to people about your business, hand them your business card and receive theirs as well.
In the furniture business, your customers cut across different stratum of people. You deal with low, middle, and high-class people. Hence, devise a means to connect with them all.
On the other hand, if you only provide luxury furniture, your target audience should be high profile and wealthy people.
3. Take Advantage Of Internet And Social Media
Social media has become a world of its own. Most of your customers are on either one or two of the social media platforms. Hence, you need to put yourself out there for them to see.
On social media, you need to be both social and business-driven. You can begin with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube.
Another way to take advantage of the internet is to create a website for your furniture business. With WordPress or Wix.com, you can get your website running in no time.
On your website, upload your designs with their prices. Don’t also forget to include your contact information so that whoever visits can reach out to you from there. You can also run a Google ad that directs people to your website.
4. Sell Your Furniture On Jumia, Konga, Etsy, and Jiji
Create an online store on these platforms. You will have access to their wide range of audiences. However, they always collect a percentage of the fee for providing the platform. Besides, there are lots of competition so, you have to price your furniture competitively.
Many businesses only sell their products on these platforms and are making millions monthly. Take advantage of every opportunity to get paying customers.
5. Partner With Other Furniture-Making Businesses
You obviously need to connect with people already in the industry especially if you plan to be buying from established brands to resell.
Besides, some companies can direct customers to you when you have what they need and they don’t. Actually, collaboration is the new competition. You could partner with these brands to push your furniture business.
In conclusion, the furniture business in Nigeria has come a long way and it keeps evolving. Therefore, regardless of how you start, always grow with the trend so you won’t get outdated or become complacent in the business.