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Mr A
This is a complete guide on how to start and run a furniture business in Nigeria or your home country.

Every residential or corporate building requires furniture. When anyone constructs a house meant for residence, including furniture is a must. If a new company erects a head office, or sets up a new department, they would need brand new furniture for their staff, guests and clients to feel as comfortable as possible. To get all the furniture they want, the company would have to select a furniture dealer to get them from. This decision is usually made from several ways including:
  • Online research
  • Recommendations from other people
  • Reputation of furniture company / dealer
  • Popularity of furniture company / dealer
You could be that guy. You could own the furniture business that pops into anyone's head when the word furniture is mentioned. But to grow a reputation as big as that, there are some principles you need to follow to imbed trust and loyalty in the mind of your clients.

Running the imported furniture business requires a lot of capital. You could decide to import quality and durable furniture from big name furniture producers or chinese made furniture. As always, the Chinese made products are much cheaper than the quality ones.
To get an idea of how much capital you would need to begin, first pen down a rough estimate of how many items you would need to have in stock (if you would be selling one furniture type e.g office tables). The second step is to look for a furniture production company in the country you intend buying from. For example, Chinese office chairs are as cheap as N7,000 while quality chairs form top producers are as expensive as N95,000. Don't take these prices as basis though, different chair types have different prices, for example, a bar stool would be cheaper than a manager's chair, and a seat for guests in the reception would have a different price to that of the receptionist or the secretary. Most people import from Asian countries like China, Indonesia and Turkey.
For a start, you would need about N3million capital (or more) excluding cost of office space and show room.

After you have determined the type of furniture you want to sell and the company to buy from, it is now time for the importation proper. Contact the company and inform them of your interests in having a partnership. If you intend buying in bulk, also let them know so they can inform you of discounts available. They would tell you the various documents you would need to make available to process the shipment.
For a start, stock your store with at least 200 pieces of the furniture, this would help if you meet other retailers who are willing to buy in bulk, or a new company that is trying to set up office.

Show Room
Every furniture retailer, distributor, or manufacturer must have a show room. A show room is a neatly designed space in a building where you put your products on display. This is different from a warehouse. The design and setting of your showroom should represent the type of product you sell. For example if you sell  household furniture, the showroom should have a setting that looks like a sitting room where it looks like the product is being used at that moment.
your show room can be in the same building as your warehouse or better still, the same building as your main office.


Employ Furniture Specialists
When you import furniture, they don't just come as a full fledged ready-to-use furniture. They come in parts which would require assembling. If you import in bulk, you would need employees who would assemble these products when they come in. Try to look for people who have been into the business before or mechanical engineers who have had experience in assembling products, because one assembling mistake can render a furniture product useless.

To run this business successfully, you need a means of transporting your furniture to your customers on demand, especially customers who buy in bulk. This is also a good way to build company reputation, as it will compel people to recommend you to others.
Consider the scenario where a potential customer visits your shop and asks for 50 pieces of bar stool, negotiations finalized, payment agreed upon, customer asks how the products would be transported to their building and then you respond by asking them to come with a vehicle the next day.

Importing and selling furniture is very rewarding if you know what you are doing. It is also capital intensive and not for the faintest of heart.

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