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Thread: Resistance when I mentioned I wanted to start a wood working business

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Western NC
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    Default Resistance when I mentioned I wanted to start a wood working business

    I was in the military when I started my first furniture business. I sold curly Koa to furniture to Martin and Macarthur on a small scale. I decided I would get out of the military and pursue woodworking full time. Although I made 4-500 a week at my peak just selling cutting boards at the local farmers market, I eventually decided to get an accounting degree.

    Now I am an accountant at city hall in and I hate it! I have tried several other accounting positions and hated them almost as much. I did my first woodworking event and didnt sell much but had alot of interest, and now my wife wants me to give up again pursue my masters in accounting! AAUUUGGHGH! But the problem is that this was her idea to help me keep my sanity! She even ordered my business card and registered me for the event!

    Anyone else have this problem? Experience? Need to vent like me? Advice? or want to tell me to stick it out at accounting becasue woodworking is hard? ( I have been doing it for hobby for 10 years)

    I didnt konw where to post this, but it seemed like a newbie question :0)


    Edit* by the way my first woodworking business failed because I told customers that I wouldnt build/install their item because I wanted to stay in my Niche (and really i was unsure of my abilities). It was part of my business model but was a huge mistake!

  2. #2

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    In my opinion woodworking as a hobby and as a business - sole means of support - are very different. I am a hobby builder and I do sell items, but my prime motivation is not to make money.

    Woodworking as a business is hard. You must work efficiently and make very good use of resources to make money. If I take 5 instead of 2 hours on a project as a hobbyist, no big deal. In a business, that could put you under. What do you plan on making? Is it unique, or is it a crowded market? Can you maintain sufficient volume to pay yourself an adequate salary?

    I feel one of the most overlooked aspects is marketing - how are your customers going to find you?

    I had a friend who tried to get into the cabinet-making business. He was not in it long. BTW he found that he could order raised-panel doors much cheaper than he could buy them, so he was basically building and installing cabinet carcasses.

    I urge caution.

  3. #3
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    Aug 2009
    Location
    Western NC
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    Thanks Dick for the reply!

    You really got me to turn the old cogs and think about my strengths and weaknesses!

    I do believe I have a solid business plan, and through my past experience, failures, and successes, I believe that marketing is my strongest point! With one phone call, and email with picture, and a meeting I had a returning customer that purchased $5000 in cutting boards over the summer! It's all I could make at that time as I was full time in the military, but I also have had great success with farmers markets, people have contacted me again and again for years asking me to build them a cutting board for a wedding or aniversary. If I was able to get someone talking, I could sell them something, so sales is a major strong point too. Where I fail is getting the items turned out in the shop, I fail to setup my shop, and take the time to keep it clean enough to work in, but I always work really hard at what I do, and everything comes out perfect, or it doesn't get sold.

    I have a bunch of ideas for marketing, everything from attending events, large social media presence, art booth, and contacting custom furniture stores like I have in the past. I have even thought of contacting realtors and other people who like to give out gifts to their clients ( an engraved cutting board is the best closing gift a realtor can buy in my opinion). The problem is, I think I can out market my production! My focus (if I get another chance) is to market, market, market, sell, sell, make. I have learned alot from accounting!

    A friend of mine supports his entire family engraving names on shiny little pieces of metal that goes on a bracelet. He quit his big time supply chain management gig to do that with his wife, and have been at it for 4 years. He spends$100 a day in advertising on etsy, and has been willing to help me set up my shop.

    I feel like I'm back trying to sell this to my wife again with this rant ha!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Shreveport, Louisiana
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    Bottom line is your wife depending on you being the sole provider and having enough income to support your family as well as your wood working career. I have a friend who just recently gave up his high tech job and is only doing wood working. He has an Etsy store and seems to be doing well. He also sells cutting boards and a vast array of other items he has made using his 4x8 CNC which he built himself. He has recently finished a guitar and has orders for several others and has a contract doing plaques. As far as myself, it's only a hobby as I give most everything away. My wife tried the accounting avenue for several years and hated it as well, except for a stint doing taxes for farmers. (something quite different w/travel and adventure). So if your not the sole provider, go for it...

  5. #5
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    Jun 2013
    Location
    Southeast Idaho
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    I have 5 months and 3 weeks left at my day job... Finally getting into this full time. My company was bought by a big guy. For 3 months I believed I was just part of the transition team. I couldn't have been happier, or scared, lets be honest Then, just two weeks shy, I must have impressed the wrong person and they offered me a job. I took it, more I think because I had lobbyists, and they were on the way out. How graceless of me not to accept, right!?

    Gotta say, I am miserable. So now, I am banking the money until the end of the year, then its all about my 3 machines and me and a dust collector

    Have a 1 year safety net, you can't leave the family frightened of the future. You cannot measure the value of ending the day loving how you spent it. You will be more loving to those around you as well... it's contagious.

  6. #6
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    Western NC
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canemaker View Post
    . My wife tried the accounting avenue for several years and hated it as well, except for a stint doing taxes for farmers. (something quite different w/travel and adventure). So if your not the sole provider, go for it...

    What did she switch to? My wife has been pushing me to do accounting for farmers, thats I ironic! We live on a mini farm, and I thought it would be a neat avenue for us to do some farming and farm accounting and woodworking. If one business took off, stop all the others and focus on that one.

  7. #7
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    Aug 2009
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    Western NC
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    Quote Originally Posted by DianMayfield View Post
    I have 5 months and 3 weeks left at my day job... Finally getting into this full time. My company was bought by a big guy. For 3 months I believed I was just part of the transition team. I couldn't have been happier, or scared, lets be honest Then, just two weeks shy, I must have impressed the wrong person and they offered me a job. I took it, more I think because I had lobbyists, and they were on the way out. How graceless of me not to accept, right!?

    Gotta say, I am miserable. So now, I am banking the money until the end of the year, then its all about my 3 machines and me and a dust collector

    Have a 1 year safety net, you can't leave the family frightened of the future. You cannot measure the value of ending the day loving how you spent it. You will be more loving to those around you as well... it's contagious.

    Congrats! See, what do you do to keep money flowing through to keep 3, THREE! machines running? Not looking to steal your niche but seriously thats alot of sawdust and noise!

    To be fair, I have a pension from the navy and I own our house and shop outright, I already have all the tools that I need including a gang rip, molder, drum sander, and ofcourse the carvewright. We wouldnt get into a dime of debt to start it, the only risk is "ruining my career."


    Oh and I love that last line! Everyone around me could tell how excited and at peace that I was after the vendor market, I had hope!

  8. #8
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    Aug 2009
    Location
    Western NC
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    Just to throw some added thought into the discussion, I have also thought about manufacturing wood products instead of doing crafts. I know we have tough competition, but the markets are changing.

    The market is already there. Go to the store, every where you turn we see wood products. Someone has to make those products. I know that all of it comes from overseas where everything is cheap to make, but i read a blog somewhere, and the author had a contract for 5000 wood boxes within a few weeks of starting his business. Pricing and timing would have to be spot on in order to fill that order, but I would give it a shot if I could find an order like that.

    Also, another guy I knew made wood chairs for restaurants for all over the country. Seems like that would be an awesome gig as chairs are unique and fun to build and see the finish results.

    To add to the predicament that I am in, I can get my own logs turned into planks and kiln dried for .72 a board foot. This really helps the bottom line and to make everything affordable. There is no shortage of free logs where I live, everything from walnut to pine. People sell table slabs around here for $500 plus, so I can keep cash flowing through the business that way aswell. Get a walnut slab kiln dried for $15 and sell it for a few hundred bucks!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Shreveport, Louisiana
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    Well, knowing what you have in equipment, home and inventory, I see no reason you shouldn't take that one giant step. As far as my wife, she went from accounting about 25 years ago to selling online. There will always be someone that needs accounting services so I don't see the risk for "ruining your career" you could always do taxes and/or accounting on the side. The City that I live in has for some reason a very large artist community and wood working professionals. There are several people that make original one of a kind pieces of furniture, pool cues and many other wooden items and they all see to do well in that area. Craft shows aren't for everyone, but there are other avenues such as linking up with artist consignment shops, gift shops, etsy, ebay, etc. I don't think I could be happy making 5000 of any one item.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Southern Delaware
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    Interesting question. Never was in a position to make it. My thought would be what would be the end result of either a success or a failure? Can you/family survive either? Your mention several 'options' of things to do in the 'wood' arena. A lot of what you have mentioned was about others successes but only in one 'deal'.
    Can't give you an answer that is guaranteed but it's obvious you're not happy doing what is current. If you never make the jump you will always wonder, if you at least have the safety of knowing you can 'go back' to something from your experience?
    Luck,
    Rick H

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