How to start a joinery business

A male joinery business owner in overalls works on a laptop in his workshop.

If you’re interested in woodworking and eager to make a career out of it, starting up your own joinery business and becoming a self-employed joiner could be right for you. It’s not a decision to take lightly though - running your own business takes hard graft and plenty of perseverance.

To help you decide if it’s something you’d like to pursue, we outline some of the most important steps to starting a joinery business below.

Starting a joinery business

If you’ve gained experience through working in the joinery trade previously, it’s likely you’ll have the skills you need to become a self-employed joiner. However, a way with wood isn’t the only thing you need to achieve success when going solo. As the person in charge of the business, you’ll also need to make all the important decisions going forward.

Create a business plan

This is one of the earliest steps you can take towards starting your own business, and the good news is that you can do this before you set any wheels in motion. After all, you don’t have to send a business plan to anyone until you’re ready to do so - in fact, they’re not a mandatory part of setting up a business at all unless you need a loan or other financial aid.

So why bother making a business plan if it’s not strictly necessary? Well, as the name suggests, a business plan is supposed to explain everything about your proposed business and how you expect it to move forward. While this is vital information for any banks considering whether or not to support you financially, putting it together can really help you to clarify your vision and turn your dream into a feasible reality.

Here are some sections a good business plan should include:

  • A brief description of your business

This section should include who you are, the services you will provide and the area you will work in. If you intend to specialise in any way - for example, creating bespoke furniture or staircases - this is the place to say it.

  • Market and competitor analysis

A market analysis looks at the population around you and decides who you should be targeting with your services. This can inform your marketing strategy. A competitor analysis will then assess how your competitors are operating, what prices they’re charging and what special services they offer - all so you can try to find something unique you can offer.

  • Financial projections

This section should show your predicted costs and revenue for the first few years of doing business. If you need a loan, this section should also detail how much you need and what you need it for.

  • Marketing plan

As the name suggests, this part should outline how you intend to spread the word about your business and attract new clients, taking into account what you’ve learned in your market and competitor analyses.

Buy the tools and equipment you’ll need

Without the right tools, you won’t be able to do your job efficiently, so it’s important to make sure your workshop is fully stocked before you start taking on clients. You’ll also need to make time to maintain and care for your tools to ensure they don’t wear out too quickly.

Tools a self-employed joiner will likely find useful include:

  • Spirit levels
  • Chisels
  • Hammer
  • Mallets
  • Saws
  • Lathes
  • Planes
  • Safety equipment

Get the right insurance

New businesses are often financially vulnerable while they build up their reputation and pool of clients, which means that any financial consequences of legal action, accidents or criminal activity can be very impactful. Taking out the right insurance policies can protect your finances in the event of one of the above incidents occurring to help ensure you can keep operating as a business.

Do I need public liability insurance to do joinery work?

If you’re a self-employed joiner who doesn’t employ staff, there are no forms of insurance you are legally obliged to take out. However, your clients may require you to have certain insurance policies in order to protect their own finances.

Here are some types of insurance self-employed joiners may benefit from:

This protects you against claims of injury or property damage as a result of your work. It also applies to accidents involving clients or members of the public on your premises. This could include dropping a hammer on a client’s toe while they were collecting furniture from your workshop, for example.

As the name suggests, this form of cover is only applicable to you if you’re an employer. It protects you if a member of staff falls ill or gets injured while working for you. If you employ workers, you are legally required to take out employers’ liability insurance.

Since your tools are your livelihood, insuring them is a great way to protect yourself in the event that your equipment is damaged, lost or stolen. For example, if someone breaks into your workshop and steals your tools, you can claim to cover the costs of replacing the tools. With tools insurance from Markel Direct, you can choose to cover your tools during working hours only (8am – 6pm) or on a 24 hour basis for complete peace of mind.

Market yourself

As a self-employed joiner, it’s up to you to promote your business to potential clients. You could do this in a number of ways, including:

  • Social media
  • Putting up flyers or posters
  • Delivering leaflets to local neighbourhoods
  • Creating a website.

Remember to factor in your target market so that you don’t waste time and money marketing to those who are unlikely to benefit from your services.

Set targets for growth

Finally, setting targets for growth is an integral part of building a business. Setting targets that are related to your business plan is an excellent way to ensure you’re sticking to your goals. For example, you could set goals relating to your marketing, such as to reach a set amount of people on your business’ Facebook page in the next three months. Remember to use SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) to keep yourself focused and on track.

As your business grows, you may find yourself needing to recruit staff to help you shoulder the workload. This is good news, but don’t forget that you’ll be legally required to take out employers’ liability insurance.

Here at Markel Direct, we offer a specialist joiners’ insurance package. This allows you to combine a number of covers together into a single policy.

Business insurance from £5 a month