Purchasing An Upholstery Business

It may seem like a wonderful thing to purchase a (seemingly) successful and well established upholstery business. For the right person, with the right set of conditions, this could be a good thing. OR, it could be a disaster.

If you are a Professional Upholsterer

If you already are a professional upholsterer, it is in some ways easier to take over a running business. But there is a lot more to running a business than just doing the upholstery work.

If You Have No Knowledge of the Trade

If you have little or no knowledge or skill in the trade I would be VERY cautious about purchasing a BUSY upholstery business. STOP.  Think about this a LOT before you just jump in. In fact, I would probably recommend against a person with no knowledge or experience in the upholstery trade to purchase a running upholstery shop, except in extremely special cases. (and you probably are not that special case.)

Do a Self-Accessment

While in some ways, upholstery may seem pretty simple. And to be sure, some people can pick the basics up pretty quickly (meaning at least several months of working full time at it). Other people can take a long time. In either case it will take you at least a year of full time work (if you really apply yourself) before you begin to aquire some proficiency. And it will take a number of years to get really good at it. (This will vary from person to person) The first thing to look at is YOU. What type of background and experiences have you had, and in what fields. For example, have you been doing office or sales type work, which requires very little production skills. Or have you been working with your hands (i.e. carpentry, wood working, mechanic, etc.) (as a hobby or for work). Upholstery is a skill that includes a lot of handwork. In addition, upholstery is a skill that requires of a lot of finesse, discernment, problem solving, creativity, etc.

Take Time, Don't Rush Into Making a Decision

If you have no upholstery skills, you would be putting a LOT LOT LOT of pressure upon yourself, trying to learn how to manage a business, looking after the bookkeeping, keeping the clients happy, all while trying to QUICKLY learn the trade. If the upholstery business is a large operation, how many upholsterers are working for the shop? Would you have to manage employees as well? What would this involve.

Do you have any experience managing a business?

Do you have any knowledge or training in business management?

Have you ever mannaged a successful business in the past?

Your Financial Situation

Do you have a substantial amount of money in the bank to make the purchase and have a sizable balance left over?

Do you have an accountant that guides you through your decisions?

Access the Business


Get Professional Advice

BEFORE you sign anything or agree to anything, I would seriously suggest you get some professional advice. (Accountant, Lawyer, Small Business Administration SCORE

Also, have his books check by an accountant to check the financial health of the business.

Make Out a Business Plan

The thought of buy a "successful" business can seem exciting and exhilerating. Our optimism can get in high gear with all the dreams of us being a super success.Putting together a business plan helps you put aside the often unrealistic dreams and to put the facts together to help you decide if purchasing the business is a good idea. Don't skip this step.

Also, be sure to read these articles:

Planning for Purchasing a Business

SBA: Buying Existing Businesses

Find Out If You Like Upholstery - Try It Out!

AND while you are trying to figure out whether or not you want to purchase this business, and BEFORE you become committed, do a trial run of doing some upholstery projects (Yes, you'll make a mess at first, but that is OK.) If you spend a few hundred dollars buying some tools, fabric, supplies, setting up to do a few pieces, it might save you many thousands of dollars and years of grief if you find that you don't like to do upholstery.

Also read this page: Getting Started in Upholstery, and all the child pages connected to it. On these pages there are links to places to get videos and the like. Also, there are many upholstery videos and Youtube.

The important thing is, before you spend your money, do a thorough test of actually doing it to see if you like it.

If all this sounds good to you, then proceed with the test:

1. Set Up Some Space

Many people, including myself, just work in the garage. Just clear out some space large enought to set up a table and a couple of sawhorse to set up any furniture on.

2. Set Up a Table

Cutting tables are generally 60" wide by 10 to 20 feet long. But, to start with with you can just use a sheet of 5/8" or thicker plywood laid across a couple of additional sawhorses. That will make a temporary table.

3. Get Tools

Get together some basic upholstery hand tools. (You may already have some of the  basic tools. The owner of the business might let you bring in a couple of small sample projects to work on. Just ask him. If he says no, then work at home.)

4. Get Furniture

Then find or buy some very simple pieces (dining room chair seats are idea because they are small and simple PLUS you get to do the same thing over and over again, which helps your skill. OR you can find some small chairs, etc.)  to upholster (find some old furniture at a garage sale, estate sale, second hand store, Craigslist, etc.)

5. Get Fabric

 Then buy some real cheap upholstery fabric, it doesn't matter what color it is. It's just for practicing with.

6. Do the work

Look through the How To's for articles to help you.

For Example, you can read through the How To Reupholster a Sofa for some ideas.

Remember, during this test, this may be your very first piece of furniture. It WILL turn out very SLOPPY. Expect that, do the best you can, and have fun. Don't be too hard on yourself, just keep pressing on. You'll get better with more practice.

7. Dispose of It?

The first piece of furniture won't turn our very good. If you continue in upholstery you won't want to keep it around. (but be sure to take some pictures of it as a reminder someday to show you have far you have come) So you may want to donate it to a the Salvation army or some other place.

8. Examine Yourself

As you are doing the work and afterwords, ask yourself if you liked or disliked what you were doing. Do you want to do this for many years to come?