Business Plan Counseling Summary

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Blog entry by Mark A. DeCou posted 02-15-2007 07:16 AM 1458 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made my second visit to the college to get business plan advice today. The counselor that helped me was very nice, and quite interested in trying to help.

Last week I presented my plan to him by summarizing my thoughts, successes, failures, philosophy, image, market target, target customer, product niche, marketing materials, advertising summary, juried show summary, target demographics, competition summary, marketing plan, and basic financial summary.

This week, he presented me with his summary based on research to help me with my specific situation. He had some good advice for me. He is an attorney, so he had some input into product liability protection, business registration, and gave me a run down on how attorneys think if I want to consider them as part of my target customers.

I think one of the most interesting comments he made was that his research showed that “pricing” is not a concern for the target customer demographics that I will be working with. They know what they like, and will buy it when they, or their “people”, see it.

All in all, I will have just a few things to alter in my business plan mostly dealing with how I segment my business into separate ventures and accounting, and then I will need to just put in the effort to make it work.

He said that in his research for artist-based businesses, the way they go from obscurity to financial stability always comes in unpredictable, big shifts, such as being at the right place and being “discovered” by the right connections and networking. I don’t believe in “luck”, just miracles, and I know Who is responsible for those. It is a comforting feeling.

I won’t need to go back for any more counseling unless I have specific questions I want more help in answering. So, I am not planning on doing any drywall work in the near future, but pressing ahead.

Whew, that is a relief. Now, I just need to be miraculously “discovered.”

Thanks for listening.
Mark DeCou

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

10 comments so far

View Corndog's profile


30 posts in 4087 days

#1 posted 02-15-2007 07:25 AM

Well Mark I think of it this way…
Eveyone needs furniture but not everyone needs beautiful hand-made furniture.
On the other hand not everyone needs a guitar and fewer need a beautiful hand-made guitar yet I still make guitars.
Make sence? It is a compliment,really.

-- I've got a bandsaw in my kitchen...

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4139 days

#2 posted 02-15-2007 08:55 AM

Mark, I know you didn’t mention this, but it’s implied in your comment, ”I don’t believe in “luck”, just miracles, and I know Who is responsible for those.”

So you have been added to my prayer list, and I suspect that of a number of other LumberJocks.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4101 days

#3 posted 02-15-2007 09:02 AM

I second Don”s comments. Mark, I think your work is truly a cut above and appreciate your postings. You are on our prayer list as well!


View TonyWard's profile


748 posts in 4290 days

#4 posted 02-15-2007 12:14 PM

In my previous two lives I worked closely with lawyers, both in defence and prosecution.

I remain to this day convinced that the profession is the least creative / inventive professional body. Accountants in my view fall into the same abyss.

As artisans we cannot afford to rely upon their precedents, as we continue to raise the bar and therefore their remedies are not a solution.

I understand your frustration and can see why you are not returning for any additional sessions.

Our quest continues

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4276 days

#5 posted 02-15-2007 05:06 PM

What a loss to the dry walling community…but our gain. I’d wish you good luck, but instead I’ll ask you to stick around for the miracle.

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2008 posts in 4367 days

#6 posted 02-15-2007 06:33 PM

Thanks guys, I’ve lived on a “prayer” for several years now, and so I believe and trust in that power of the Creator to feed this little family. I appreciate your concern enough to pray for us.

I decided to blog the rest of my thoughts this morning.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4123 days

#7 posted 02-15-2007 06:46 PM

Sounds like you had a good plan already set up. It is nice to have someone outside validate it and provide some suggestions.

Good luck with the next phase of your plan – implementation.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Steffen's profile


326 posts in 3997 days

#8 posted 05-18-2007 06:13 AM


I would like to add my two cents worth of advice and a little story if I may. Pricing fine woodworking is a very subjective and difficult thing.

I work as a docent for Sam Maloof. Every third Tuesday night we have a meeting in Sam’s house where we all have dinner together and talk about what’s going on that month. The best thing I like about it is I get to talk to Sam and sit in all of his furniture.

I was sitting talking to another docent and he saw one of the pens I make in my pocket. He said “hey, I make pens too” (this man was about 40 years my senior). He then asked if I give them away and I kind of chuckled and said no. I said I actually have them in a store in Orange and the retail price is $110 to $135. He about fell out of his chair. Apparently he gives his pens away or will sell them for maybe $10 which doesn’t even cover the cost of the kit, wood and electricity to make the thing.

He spent the next 15 minutes practically scolding me for trying to get so much for my pens and he finally stood up and walked away…Stood up out of a $35,000 Zircote rocker that had already been sold. Oh yeah, there is a 4 year waiting list for those rockers and Sam and the boys can build about 60 of them a year along with a lot of other stuff…Do the math!

All out of Sam’s shop, attached to his house (don’t get me wrong, there aren’t too many of us who have 750,000 BF of lumber at our house). But Sam started in a chicken coup where he had to take every tool out at the begining of the day and put it back at the end and he was nearly 40 when he started doing it as a full time income. His house was then and is still today his showroom.

When I get discouraged about not making enough money or there won’t be a client for my product I tend to visit the following site. It is a woodworking cooperative and there are a lot of artisans there who list their work and how much it cost. Some of it is shocking but most of it is all commisioned work.

Good luck…stay focused…be encouraged.

-- Steffen - Kirkland, WA

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2008 posts in 4367 days

#9 posted 05-27-2007 06:43 AM

Hey Steffen: what is a “docent”? I’ve not heard that term before. If you get to hang out with Sam, how do I become a “docent”?

I did the math a few months back, that Sam worked in obscurity until he was the age when most of us retire. It was at that time, his career took off. The fact that he has lived and worked 20 years longer than most of us has really helped his career. If he had died earlier, say in his early 70’s, I doubt any of us would have learned of him. I read anything I can find about him, and treasured the time I heard him speak at the Western Design Conference last September.

thanks for the website link, I will do some looking through it.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4273 days

#10 posted 05-27-2007 05:26 PM

Here’s to your miraculous discovery!

-- Jesus is Lord!

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