Over in the Forum, there is a question about Going Pro with woodworking, and what should be considered. The Forum Writer stated to “be honest.”
I decided to post my comments there, and then also as a Blog Post. It will be easier for me to find my own comments later, and to document the thoughts as a Blog.
Just a few misc., and random thoughts, as I don’t have much time this morning
1) Full time is so different than part-time, or hobby woodworking, that there isn’t any comparison, or much in the way of overlapping wisdom.
2) Selling pieces once in awhile, is not the same as “having” to sell something constantly.
3) You’ll consider sanding off the inscription to your wife on the bottom of the gift you made her one Christmas….. so you can sell it. Ok, Ok, you will sand off the inscription and sell it. Even Sam Maloof sold a piece that he had inscribed to his Wife. The story is in his book.
4) It is not about woodworking, it is about money, and staying ahead of bills.
5) You can romanticize it as much as you want, but it is a business, with a huge investment in time and resources.
6) It will cost you everything you have to give it, and you’ll only dream about what more you could sell so you could feed it again.
7) It is a constant battle, and if you are ahead one minute, something breaks down, or the transmission goes out.
8) If you have another income source, pension, trust fund, inheritance, lottery winnings, or someone else in the family working, that will help.
9) Don’t plan on making any profit for a long time.
10) You will want to invest every penny you make for a long time, either in tools, shop space, transportation, wood inventory, computers, digital cameras, skill education, show fees, advertising, website……..on and on.
11) Ok, ok, you will never be done investing in a woodworking business. You shouldn’t be.
12) I think it is very critical to figure out what you are best at, and get a shop and tools and skill base set up for that niche. This is your Image. It is what you are selling.
13) It doesn’t do any good to buy all of the tools to make Large Home Entry Doors, if you end up selling jewelry boxes.
14) Cash out your 401K, you won’t be retiring anyway, and you’ll need the capital.
15) You can’t compete in any regard with a factory, or anything that is made in a country that has people willing to live on less money than you.
16) Doing drywall and house painting, or cutting lawns, pays much better, are you sure you wouldn’t rather do those things?
17) Finding people that are willing to pay for your time to make handmade “Anythings” at American labor rates is pretty difficult, in any medium, in any market.
18) Wait until customers are begging you out of your day job. Put them off as long as you can do it.
19) Are you willing to risk everything?
20) Your reputation is more important than your abilities.
21) There is always someone down the street that can cut dovetails faster, but do people want to do business with them, or collect their work?
22) Plan on living at well below the “neighbor’s lifestyle.” In fact, you will probably need to move to a cheaper neighborhood.
23) You’ll start looking at your shiny new pickup truck, and finally figure out how many board feet of slabbed walnut trees you could buy if you sold it and bought an old clunker. Who cares about what you drive, as long as you get there? Right? If you agree, you might be ready.
24) My best, and only running, pickup truck is a 1972 GMC Sierra. I had to sell the big new 4×4 truck I had back in 1996, the Corvette, the Old Harley, the Newer Harley, the Yamaha, the….....so I could get out of debt, before quitting my dayjob.
25) I have met few people that went full time with an art based business without help from someone, either a spouse, a sugar-daddy, an investor, a grant giver, etc. Ok, ok, I have not met anyone that did it alone. I would love to hear about someone that did, so if you know of someone let me know.
26) Making wood products is the easy part.
27) I used to think it was more about “making” wood things.
28) I have learned that it is much more about “selling” things.
29) People don’t buy my “products,” they buy “me.”
30) If “I” am not interesting and collectible to them, then they just see my high priced products as too expensive.
31) Nobody really “Needs” what I sell.
32) The benefits to working in family woodworking enterprise are tremendous, just not immediate, or easily obtained, nor financially rewarding.
33) Selling real estate starts with passing a test and getting a license. Driving a Truck starts with passing a driver’s license. Starting to practice Law, Medicine, or Chiropratory, all starts with a degree. There is no starting point with woodworking in this country.
34) We watch the clock all day long so we can get home and do what we really enjoy, Hobbies.
35) I no longer have Hobbies.
36) I like the focused effort it takes, I need that focus at times.
37) It is easy to get sidetracked, hard to stay on track.
38) The mailbox is a good way to stay on track……......a daily walk to the mailbox wondering what bills are in there, makes you get back to work quickly. You have to beat your wife to the mailbox, because she has learned to hide the Tool Catalogs that come consistently each week.
39) I think you have to be so impassioned, that going back to a desk job appears to be the worst kind of torture. Something you would never consider. You need that motivation to press on every day. Even Sam Maloof says that he thought of quitting many many times, but his wife just kept saying, “keep trying.”
Would I go back to working for the “Man”? I hope not.
I’ve scared myself again to the point that I need to get back to the shop!
Are you a Pioneer?
If so, keep dreaming, I recommend it.
My next Blog uses the analogy of the Pioneering Adventure to spill a message full of ideas and concerns, and the passion that must be behind your desire. I hope you will read it also.
Just remember, there is “plenty of elbow room, green grass, and a good water source.”
—Mark DeCou – Kansas Flinthill’s Artisan
(this writing and comments are protected by copyright by MA DeCou on 10-05-2007, all rights reserved, no use is authorized without expressed written permission.)
-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com