“If it were easy, everyone would be doing it!” -Something I heard nearly every day when I was building log homes. It really applies to just about anything we set out to achieve. There are so many people dreaming of being fulltime woodworkers, but few are successfully making a good living at it. Why is that? Why is there so many failing or not even trying? Does it have to do with a lack of knowledge, talent, determination, or maybe its fear?
There is so much information out there at our fingertips. You don’t have to look very far to find someone else sharing their knowhow and experiences. So, I don’t think knowledge is the real problem. Just like most things, if you have a good attitude, some passion, a little discipline, and the ability to make mistakes and learn from them, you have the recipe for skill. Skill & hard work trumps talent in my book. So! What is it that’s holding us back?
In my case, I think it has to do more with those last two things I mentioned. Lack of determination & fear… We all have to decide! Fear or Determination? The real force separating us from our goals and aspirations is a lack of commitment when obstacles and fear get in our path. We just give up. I have committed to set in motion a plan to become a fulltime woodworker this year. I am determined to succeed! This is the first step. I have to have the courage to look at what I have (and am) doing wrong and open myself up to feedback and constructive criticism. I know you need the support of your family & friends, but above all you need a plan and a determination to never give up. I am writing this here on LJ’s because I value your opinion & experience. Please share your insights & counsel. If you are struggling with the same issues I am, I hope this will inspire you and maybe we can help each other. To you Wood Rock Stars out there… jump in, smack us in the back of the head- tell us what we’re doing wrong!
Like I said before, I plan to document my weekly progress. I have jotted down some of the weaknesses I need to work on and some of the tactics I plan to implement as I go.
Spend more time in the shop: I will definitely have to start putting in time other than just Saturdays. I have a pretty physical job and work 5 days a week, 10+ hours a day, but this leads me to my original statement. “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it!” I ain’t getting any younger, but I can eat better, get enough sleep and loose a little weight. Some exercise wouldn’t hurt either. All would help with stamina & energy. To make this happen -I have to get home, get out in the shop, be productive and get to bed by 11:00. Stay off the couch / computer.
Get organized: My shop is so unorganized! It’s embarrassing. I need to clean up. Keep it clean and think and act like a woodworking Rock Star. It should be easy to move from one operation to the next while building something. More on this later.
Finish current projects quickly: I sometimes (ok, always) drag my feet on a project when I can’t see another one in view. This is dumb! I should be keeping better track of how long it takes me to finish each step of a project so I have a better grasp on bidding jobs, and instead of thinking… now what? I should be using lulls in my schedule to build spec. projects -Which is what I love to do anyway.
Set an accurate shop rate & stick to it: I have been so wishy-washy about this. I read a great blog series How to price my woodworking (and sell it) #1: How to price your woodworking to make a profit from Huff. Great! Great info! Thank you.
I have had the misconception that everyone out there has an income similar to mine, because when pricing something I would usually figure a price based on bogus figures and then step back and think. That’s probably too much… Then ask… How much would I pay? I need to calculate my expenses, my wage, add profit in for the business and be comfortable with that price. As I think back over the past 20 years or so I have been dabbling in this I think I can count on one hand the commission’s I have lost because I was overpriced. That should be telling me something.
Work on business plan: To business plan or not to business plan? That is the question. I’ve heard lots of ideas on this. I don’t plan on borrowing any money to get started so why spend the time to write a business plan? I don’t know? This is a learning process; flexibility is probably a good thing, isn’t it?
My experience tells me having a step-by-step process to follow, makes things a little easier. I don’t have to think about the direction I will go in. It’s already decided. Keep it simple stupid…is what I need to live by. It will allow me to just focus on the basics… taking action & making things happen. I have a casual business plan in the works.
Map out a marketing direction: Here is where I really fall short. My biggest stumbling block is marketing. I live in a remote area and there is NO chance of someone popping in to have me build them something. I cannot climb to my rooftop and yell and have anyone hear anything, let alone advertize a business. Being diversified? Is that the answer? I see a lot of guys building small items to sell. My thing has been mostly furniture. Do many people find it profitable to sell both small & large items?
I had a website a couple of years ago. The price kept going up for it and it was more of a brochure than a business generator. Anyone know of the most affordable hosting and websites? Or is it even necessary? Hoss12992 has encouraged me to get involved in social media, which I have, but I think I need to work on that. It seems to be doing nothing for me. He is right in suggesting the more sources of exposure the better. This is where I will be focusing most of my energy! I have to get creative. I got to get the word out! Regular weekly ads wherever there may be a potential customer. Start with free. Free is good!
In the past I have been too quick to give up when an ad worked once and then goes cold. Network, Network, Network! That’s the key.
Another great blog series by Huff, Marketing and selling your woodworking #1: Starting Point Some great knowledge I need to implement.
Well, these are the items I am currently engaged in solving. There are more… shipping, sources for lumber / supplies, figuring out who my customer really is and where they are… I could go on and on… but let’s not get overwhelmed the first day. Happy & Successful New Year to all. Talk with you next week.
-- Craig Bullard http://www.facebook.com/Outlawfurniture