So I’ve decided to turn my woodworking hobby into a woodworking business. When making this decision, I had to take a lot into consideration. I have a family, and a demanding (and rewarding) full-time job at Microsoft. So, here’s some of the key decisions I’ve made to scope the business and the reasoning behind them.
Focus on my family
I have a great family that I love to spend time with. I’m not going to take on so many projects that I can’t continue to spend time with them.
Kick butt at my day job
My full-time job at Microsoft is demanding, personally rewarding, and keeps the family financial boat afloat. I’m going to drive that career forward and work hard at it. Microsoft pays me more per hour than I can make woodworking. That’s the nature of the market.
Stay out of debt
The idea behind starting this business is to gain the tax benefits, earn extra income, and set myself up with something I love to do when I finally retire. Getting shouldered with new debt is not part of the plan
Choose the right projects & schedules
I need to be very realistic about the projects I take on. Installing walnut wainscoting in a 10,000sf mansion is not going to fit. Too much on site work, too much material cost, too much paperwork (contractor’s license, building permits). I’m more likely to build small pieces of furniture, that I can complete with my existing set of tools (or maybe a few new ones) at high quality, in my small shop
Build new skills
This business, and taking on real jobs, is going to force me to build some new skills in woodworking, but also business: I’ll need to market my business to generate leads, design projects on the computer before investing time and materials in the shop, and run the business from a financial and legal perspective. From a woodworking perspective I’ll need to estimate and price my work, find great suppliers, learn new techniques, and potentially subcontract out certain pieces to experts like carvers and turners.
Build a business
Some day I’ll retire, and I hope that the business I am starting today is healthy and profitable when that day comes. To do this I need to find the right market segment: who am I building for, what do they want me to build, and how much will they pay?
-- Matt Gradwohl, Upper Cut Woodworks, http://uppercutwoodworks.com/