I need to spend HOW MUCH to start a Home Staging business?!
As Public Enemy stated years ago, “Don’t believe the hype!”. If you have an interest in starting a Home Staging business, you will find many different personalities who will tell you that it costs an exorbitant amount of money to start and that’s simply not true. I will admit that some people have the finances to invest tens of thousands of dollars into buying furniture and accessories to start their Home Staging business and it’s not mandatory. Again, don’t believe the hype and here are a few ways to help you get started in case you have no idea what to do:
1. Purchase items from garage sales in higher end neighborhoods, Facebook Marketplace or use items from your own home to supplement. Garage sale items in higher end neighborhoods tend to have better quality and they will last through multiple moves. Facebook Marketplace is also a popular target for Home Stagers, so be sure to check there. I remember my first mentor telling a story about how she started her Home Staging business. She agreed to stage a home that a realtor friend placed on the market and literally used items from her own home. When her kids came home from school later that day, they assumed they had been robbed! All of them were like deer in the headlights when they walked through the door. The home sold in 3 days and she made her first $500. She kept doing that until she was able to purchase her own inventory and now her business generates just under 1 million dollars.
2. Find a discount/clearance furniture store and buy from them. Here's an idea for every recommendation in this blog post: be sure to educate yourself on what aesthetic works for staging in your market. I’m saying this because people tend to assume that what works for decorating works for staging and that’s not true. Home Staging is to appeal to the buyers and decorating appeals to the home owner's personal taste. Therefore, the items you purchase will have a different look and feel. From there, find a reputable clearance furniture store and purchase furniture from them. That way, you avoid overspending your business or personal funds.
3. Invest if you can. Not many people have this ability and I do know someone who invested $45k into her home staging business when she first started. It’s a great idea if you can do it and it’s not that great of an idea if you don’t already have established relationships with realtors and investors. I say this because I purchased items before the demand for business was even there, and those items sat in storage for a couple of years until I eventually threw them away. Feel free to learn from me! Establishing those relationships with people who will give you business is key! The sooner the better because home staging trends change quickly.
4. Buy wholesale. There are a couple of stores that will allow you to sign up for a wholesale account. Word of caution: if you get a wholesale account, be sure to get a Sales & Use Tax Certificate as well. In the event you sell an item you purchased at wholesale, you will have to charge your customer sales tax for that item. Those dollars have to be reported to the IRS and we all know that the IRS doesn’t play!
5. Beware of storage costs! Ok, storage and warehouse space not only costs money, they can and possibly will increase in fees over a certain amount of time. Here's how to handle it: search local storage facilities in your area and see what the costs are for the space you need. Check your city or town's Facebook group page as well to see who has recommendations. From there, choose the lowest rate near the location where you live and start there. As you grow your Home Staging business, you will have to lease a larger space. When you get to that point, do the same thing. The thing to note is that once you move out of a space, the rate will lower for the next occupant. Be mindful that the money it costs you to move does not surpass the rate increase you'll incur for the next 6 months to a year (or whenever your rate increases). The point is to save money and invest it back into your Home Staging business. Need to save money hiring movers? Go to groupon.com and keep in mind that those specials are usually valid Monday-Thursday and may contain additional requirements detailed in the fine print.
6. APPLY APPLY APPLY for small business grants! There are YouTubers out there and all they do is inform their audience of small business grants. I have at least a couple that I like to keep up with from time to time. Search for grant opportunities until you can't find anymore. Then, check again in the next couple of weeks or a month. Be consistent in your search and application efforts because the money will come in handy.
When booking a Home Staging project, I recommend collecting payment upfront because you will quickly find out just how often people are reluctant to pay and they’ll try ANYTHING to avoid paying! Be sure to collect costs upfront and you’ll be good to go. If you’re able to have their credit card information on file, then that’s even better. All the best to you and keep reminding yourself that YOU CAN DO IT! Don’t let anyone discourage you because you got this!