Starting Upper Cut Woodworks #1: Key Decisions, Goals, and Scoping

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Blog entry by Matt (Upper Cut) posted 01-04-2010 12:58 AM 806 reads 2 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Starting Upper Cut Woodworks series Part 2: The Mechanics of Starting a New Business »

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,

3 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3843 days

#1 posted 01-04-2010 01:15 AM

Matt, it sounds like you have a pretty good plan. It would be nice if you had the business developed and running when you retire so that you could get paid to spend time in the shop. I hope your plans work out as you have planned.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Matt (Upper Cut)'s profile

Matt (Upper Cut)

264 posts in 3835 days

#2 posted 05-29-2010 09:56 PM

Thanks Scott!

-- Matt Gradwohl, Upper Cut Woodworks,

View a1Jim's profile


117113 posts in 3598 days

#3 posted 05-29-2010 09:58 PM

You plan sounds good Matt, family and staying out of debt are big ones.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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