Start Your Own Carpentry Business
Many of us grew up watching our parents turn a basement or garage into a carpentry workshop, spend countless weekends building furniture, and amaze us with the results. But whether your passion for carpentry started in childhood or later in life, you undoubtedly know the special kind of satisfaction which comes from building something physical in today’s digital world.
Working with your hands might even be the secret to happiness. But beyond this, carpentry is a skill which is always in demand. With fewer and fewer people going into trades today, this means you can take advantage of this market gap while engaging your passion. So it’s about time you turned your hobby into something more serious and started your own carpentry business. If you’re feeling confused or intimidated about anything from how to get start your own carpentry business, apply for a contractor license bond, or making a business plan, here’s how to get started:
Step 1: Decide if You’re an Engineer or an Artist at Heart
Are you a detail or a structure person?
You undoubtedly already know just how complex carpentry is. Within this larger profession, some people are good at the engineering element — the rough structural work — while others excel at the more artistic, craftsman details. For most cases, you’ll want to pick one area in which to specialize your carpentry business. This is going to help determine many other factors of your business going forward.
Step 2: Acquire the Skills and Certification You’ll Need
It deserves to be mentioned again, carpentry is complex. Even if you’ve been doing it for years, there are likely skills you still need to develop or hone. Depending on where you want to specialize, you should ask yourself if you already possess all the necessary skills or whether you’re going to need some additional training. Remember, if you’re already on the job, you’ve passed the right moment to try something for the first time.
If you decide you will need additional training, you’ll have to start with an apprenticeship. Even if you’ve been an amateur carpenter for years prior, you may need to spend a few years as an apprentice before you start your own business. Of course, this requirement will vary from state to state, so do some research and understand what you’ll need to accomplish.
Step 3: Make a Business Plan!
Keep the tradition alive!
Once you’ve chosen your specialty and acquired the skills, certification, and experience needed, it’s time to get down to creating your business. The first step here is, as always, making a business plan. As part of this step you’ll need to decide if you’re going to work alone or hire employees, rent space or work from home, register as a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company, and much more.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and do research at this point. Making the right decisions here will often be the difference between success and failure. This critical step too often gets overlooked, with catastrophic results. Don’t fall into that trap! Be sure to make a thorough plan and stick to it.
Step 4: Get Bonded or Insured
Like with any business, you need to take legal liability into account. This means getting bonded and possibly insured. A contractor license bond will likely be required by your state or municipality. This kind of bond will help ensure that if you fail to fulfill any element of a contract with a client, they will be compensated in full. Being bonded is a sign that the bonding company trusts you, so it’s a nice thing to mention to potential clients.
For additional protection, liability insurance can help you limit your liability in case something goes wrong. Keep in mind that the bond is insurance for your clients, while this kind of insurance is for you. This means it’s generally a good idea to have both. Most larger insurance companies will have a specific policy for carpenters.
Step 5: Register Your Business and Get Started
Now that you’ve got your business plan, apprenticeship completed, and your bond and/or insurance in order, it’s time to register your business and get started! Registration is going to vary from state to state or even from municipality to municipality, so be sure to do your homework and figure out what you need to do for this step. Generally you’ll be registering as a contractor so start your search for specific regulations there. Once you’re done, it’s time to get your hands dirty doing what you love!
Have you started your own carpentry business? Let us know what you’ve learned in the process by leaving a comment below!
Eric Halsey is a historian by training and disposition who’s been interested in US small businesses since working at the House Committee on Small Business in 2006. Coming from a family with a history of working on industry policy, he has a particular interest in the Surety Bonding industry with a focus on Construction Contracting and loves sharing his knowledge for JW Surety Bonds.