How to Start a Knife Sharpening Business

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Quick Reference

Do you have a passion for knives?  Maybe you’re a collector, and you have your own knife sharpener.  Why not start a knife sharpening business and use your passion to make money?  It won’t cost you much to start, you can make a decent living, and you’ll be your own boss.

Business Overview

A knife sharpening business offers services to consumers to sharpen knives so that they don’t need to be replaced.  You can do this out of a shop, your own home, or offer a mobile service.  A knife sharpening business can repair knives as well and sharpen other types of blades, including lawn mower blades and scissor blades.

Industry Summary

According to Grandview Research, the knife sharpening market size is $70.9 million and is expected to grow 6.5% annually through 2028.  The industry is affected by the economy and its fluctuations because people buy less expensive knives during economic downturns, and those can be easily replaced for little money rather than paying the price of knife sharpening.

Industry Trends

Consumers are buying higher-priced knives due to the popularity of cooking and cooking as a career, and those people will pay to have them sharpened rather than replace them.  Businesses that use knives are also large consumers of knife sharpening services.  Examples include restaurants, wood shops, and lawn mower repair services.

Target Market

Your target market will be people who frequently use high-quality knives or blades in the kitchen or homeowners who need garden tools, mower blades, or chain shaws sharp.  Additionally, businesses can use sharpening services such as butchers and chefs that have a recurring need to keep their blades sharp or sharpening shears and clippers for barbershops and salons.

Skills, Experience, and Education Useful in Running a Knife Sharpening Business

There are several specific skills that you will need to open a knife sharpening business.

  • Experience.  Experience is critical in a knife sharpening business.  You need to have the right skills to do quality work.
  • Attention to detail.  Knife sharpening requires precision.  If you make a mistake and ruin a knife, you will probably have to replace it for the customer.
  • Knife sharpening education. There are knife sharpening courses that you can take, which will help you if you don’t have much experience.
  • Business knowledge and experience.  You will need to have some basic knowledge of marketing, finance/accounting, and human resources.
  • Customer service. You’ll need to be able to build rapport with your customers so that you retain them as customers and gain repeat business and referrals.

Costs to Start a Knife Sharpening Business

Here are the typical costs you will face when you open a knife sharpening business. If you run your business from your home, which is probably your best bet, your expenses will be minimal.

  • Setting up a business name and corporation costs approximately $200.
  • Business cards, brochures, postcards for marketing $200 – $300
  • Website setup $100 –$200 for a basic, do it yourself website, $1,000 – $2,000 for a professional site
  • Knife sharpening tools such as stropping belts, belt sander, paper wheels, sharpening machines,multi-grit stones, honing compounds, safety glasses, etc. $1,000 +
  • A vehicle for a mobile service $10,000 +
  • Shop space $500 – $1,000 per month
  • Liability insurance, worker’s comp, property-casualty insurance $600 – $1,000
  • Initial marketing such as Facebook ads or search engine optimization for your website, flyers, and postcards, $500 -$1,000

Steps to Starting a Knife Sharpening Business

Step 1: Write your Business Plan

After coming up with the idea, the next step in starting your knife sharpening business should be to write a business plan.  The business plan will make you focus on some important aspects of the business, such as who your customers are, how you plan to reach them, projecting sales and expenses, your value proposition to use for marketing, and more. You’ll also need to do some research to calculate exactly what your startup expenses will be and what your ongoing expenses will be.

Not only will a bank require you to have a business plan if you need financing, but multiple studies have shown that having a good business plan increases the odds of starting a successful business. Writing the plan helps you think through all the aspects of the business and then serves as a guide as you begin.

How to write a business plan
Free sample business plans

Step 2: Name the Business

Finding the perfect knife sharpening business name can be challenging. Not only does the name have to reflect what you do and be appealing to customers, but it also has to be available to use. You can check your state’s website to see if the name is available and register your name.  Your name should make you stand out, reflect your brand, and tell potential customers exactly what you do.

Related: Tips and ideas for naming a knife sharpening business

Step 3: Form a Business Entity

A business entity refers to how a business is legally organized to operate. There are four primary business entities to choose from, which include a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC).  Each type of entity has its own pros and cons, such as liability exposure, costs, and administrative requirements.

RelatedComparison of Business Entities

Step 4: Select your Location

You can just run your knife sharpening business from your home to save costs, but if you choose to have a shop, it should be in a convenient location for a lot of potential customers.

Related: Choosing a business location

Step 5: Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

There are no specific licenses needed for a knife sharpening business, however, there are common local, state, and federal registrations that may be needed, such as a sales tax permit and an Employer Identification Number.  

Related: Common business licenses, permits, and registrations by state

Step 6: Find Financing

Coming up with a good business idea and having the skills to run it are one thing, but getting the funding to start a knife sharpening business is another.  Fortunately, the cost to start a knife sharpening business is pretty low, however, if a loan is needed, the borrower(s) will need to have good credit and be able to invest 15-25% of their money towards the total start-up costs.

Related: Finding the money to start a business

Step 7: Open a Business Bank Account

Keeping your business and personal finances in separate business bank and credit card accounts makes it easier to track the income and expenses of the business.

Step 8: Get your Marketing Plan in Place

To stay ahead of competitors, a budget will be needed to cover marketing costs on a continuous basis. Common marketing techniques for a knife sharpening business include social media marketing and online advertising, in addition to setting up food-focused events like farmer’s markets and food fairs.

Developing a website can be a significant expense, but it can also give your knife sharpening business greater visibility online.  You can also rent booths at flea markets or gun and knife shows or drop off flyers at local hardware stores for a minimal cost to market your services.

Related: Low-cost ideas to market a new business

Step 9: Get Insurance

A knife sharpening business needs several types of insurance for full coverage:

General liability insurance can help protect you from third-party claims of bodily injury and property damage.

Professional liability insurance protects you from claims of professional errors or negligence that result in a financial loss.

Worker’s compensation insurance covers expenses like medical bills and legal fees that a business might face if an employee were ever hurt while working.

Insurance policies will vary. To get the most accurate idea of what to budget for insurance, request quotes from multiple providers. When comparing the quotes, consider not only the premiums but also how the plan exclusions, coverage limitations, and deductibles compare.

Related: Common types of insurance a business may need

Step 10: Hiring Employees

You may choose to hire employees to help you run your knife sharpening business, particularly if you build a large customer base.  If your business grows large enough to need employees, you’ll also need extra tools and equipment.

In addition to salary costs, your budget will also need to include other employee-related expenses. Workman’s comp insurance, unemployment insurance, and paid time off are common expenses that a business will need to cover when hiring staff.

Related: Hiring your first employee

Step 11: Set up an Accounting System

Setting up an accounting system for your knife sharpening business is critical to the long-term success of your business.

Staying on top of taxes not only keeps the business out of trouble with the government but the numbers can be used to track and monitor trends and cash flow in the business and maximize profits.

Related: Setting up accounting for your business

How Much Can You Potentially Make Owning a Knife sharpening Business?

Prices for knife sharpening are about $5 – $7.   If you are able to build up a large number of customers and sharpen 200 knives per week at $5, you will make $1,000 a week or $52,000 per year.

Things to Consider Before Starting a Knife Sharpening Business

Running a knife sharpening business or any business will have its challenges.  You need to be prepared and make sure that you know what you’re getting into.

Marketing and acquiring clients will be your biggest challenge and an ongoing expense.  It will take some time to get enough clients to cover your marketing costs, and many start in this business as a side hustle until they get enough customers to leave their day job.  You’ll need to be creative to get customers by marketing to restaurants and other businesses that use blades.  Try renting booth space at various events to advertise.  Your services are necessary, but people have to know about you.

You absolutely need to do quality work. Referrals and repeat business are what will help you to grow your company, so customers need to be happy with the end result.

Talk to other business owners for tips on starting a business and do your homework to determine costs.  Research other knife sharpening businesses to see what they offer and what prices they charge.

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