woodworking bad economyWell, the economy is going bust, but you just happen to be ready to start your own woodworking business. Do you wait till the economy is recovering, or should you go ahead with your plans?

Of course the answer depends on how 'ready' you actually are, and lots of other factors. Starting a business at any point in time is difficult, starting a woodworking business is even harder. Pair that with a recession, and you face a very difficult uphill battle.

Depending on your business odel and what kind of work you will be doing, unless you have a waiting list of clients of at least ten or so, I would caution you to wait. If you have a current job, it is probably wise to hold on to it a bit longer while you do some more preparation.

Preparation includes getting your suppliers lined up and finding the ones that will get you the lowest price/highest quality.

Pick up some woodworking magazines and check out the suppliers in the ad sections. Look through the yellow pages and see what other local companies exist and what products they offer. While you are working on projects, you probably won't have time to do research like this.

You will probably be selling locally, so it is very important to know what is going on in your local market. The overall economy might be bad, but maybe your neck of the woods is doing o.k., or maybe it is doing worse than the average.

Take a look at the auctions in your area. If other companies are going under, maybe it is a good time to pick up tools for a bargain. Even if you have all the tools you need, it might be a good idea to attend some anyway. There will be other woodworkers/woodworking companies there buying those tools. Chat them up a bit and you will get some insight into what is going on in the market.

Find out if there are any woodworking businesses for sale. Try to find out why the owner is selling.

In a bad economy, companies that are already established and experienced will be bidding for the same limited opportunities. This means that they will likely be placing bids that will keep them afloat by just paying the overhead. You will be competing against low bids, so even if you do win, you probably won't be making much profit.

There will always be people in need of woodworking. But in bad economic times, there may be too many companies competing for reduced demand. Some companies will make it through and some won't.

The ones that go under are the ones that either didn't have enough reserve cash on hand to weather the downturn, or were too inefficient at what they did, or were not flexible enough somehow. They probably did not go out of business because they produced worse products than another company that survived. When a badeconomy comes around, its usually the companies with the best marketing (ways to get clients) that survive.

My point being, is that if you are starting a wood working business, you must feel that your woodworking skills are of market quality. But that is only one small part of a business. My best suggestion is to get as much business knowledge under your belt and do as much preparation as you can.

Line up some clients, and when you do start, you will be efficient and ready to fill the void that is left when the economy gets better.

Yan G.
Author: Yan G.
Professionally trained/educated cabinet and furniture maker, with over 20 years of woodworking business experience.