When do I go full time?

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Forum topic by , posted 10-03-2009 06:14 AM 3066 views 0 times favorited 43 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2387 posts in 3752 days

10-03-2009 06:14 AM

I started our cabinet business 18 months ago. It was feast and famine. We recently hooked up with a solid stone counter top guy who opened his own retail kitchen design center and brought us on as his custom cabinet source. We provided 2 very nice looking display units, one out of beech and the other out of hickory. Last summer was slow, we were still trying to establish our name so I was forced back to full time state job. We just landed 2 jobs (1 is new construction owner build 5000 sf) we sold at 30000 combined. I only make 30000 per year for the state but I get full benefits. Plus I have small children to consider. Now I am working a grueling schedule, starting in the home shop at 5:30 am, then state job from 9 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday, then in the shop all day and night saturday and sunday. Sort of crazy, but I love woodworking or building kitchens, if that can be considered real woodworking. Oh, and believe it or not, my 95 lb wife does 70% of all the woodworking (2 little girls by her side, growing up in a woodshop), she works all day and into the evening monday through saturday in the shop. She loves the akeda jig and seems to love the shaper also. She is a bit scared of the TS though but still uses it.

If I quit and my business thrives, I look smart. But if the work goes dry, then hungry little girls and finding myself in a helpless situation…
Thanks for any advice. Check out our work and business at

Happy woodworking!


-- .

43 replies so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18394 posts in 3881 days

#1 posted 10-03-2009 06:18 AM

Welcome to reality. Most self employed business owners have been through the start up process you just described. If you make it 5 years, you are over the hump.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3691 days

#2 posted 10-03-2009 07:01 AM

I don’t mean to spoil the party, but it’s all about your girls. You need the State job benifits much more than you need to build cabinets full time. Besides, you still get to do something you like. Welcome to responsible parenthood.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

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2387 posts in 3752 days

#3 posted 10-03-2009 07:30 AM

Great comments. Thanks for both responses. I likely will continue the current grueling schedule while keeping my state job for the benefits and stable income. It is just that when I am building cabinets, I really enjoy myself and time flies by. While at my state job I am constantly catching my mind wondering off into woodworking. But of course our girls are first and foremost. I just like the idea of doing something I love to do and getting paid well to do it.

-- .

View mfike's profile


100 posts in 3871 days

#4 posted 10-03-2009 08:47 AM

I understand where you’re at completely. My advise would be to keep doing what you’re doing as long as you can. Hopefully enough work will come your way that you can justify going full time. It’s really a tough call. You want to be responsible, but you want to follow your dream too. All the greats have failed at sometime. Of course the consequence of failure in your situation and most peoples these days is very steep. Sorry man, I’m not sure if that’s helpful or just plain depressing.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18394 posts in 3881 days

#5 posted 10-03-2009 09:29 AM

If it’s depressing you better keep the state job. If its motivating, you’ll make it, eventually. We all have setbacks along the, yoiu just have to pickup teh pieces and go for it again.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View hooky's profile


365 posts in 3524 days

#6 posted 10-03-2009 10:32 AM

i know it is a scary decision

it took me nearly 20 years in my state job before deciding to jump ship and try something else

but this is the most important part i took leave without pay for 12 months so there was always a fallback position

in your case your job might let you cut back hours so you only work part time and still have money coming in

checkout all your options and cover them all before going full time

I was lucky my furniture making course led me in to an apprenticeship cabinet making job

hope this helps


-- Happiness is a way of travel , not a destination (Roy Goodman)

View patron's profile


13640 posts in 3546 days

#7 posted 10-03-2009 11:47 AM

hang in there , jerry .

taking care of your family ,
is and should be first .

and who knows ,
maybe the girls ,
might hire you to be a janitor ,
in their cabinet shop !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3979 days

#8 posted 10-03-2009 12:50 PM

Family is number one! For 9 years I worked a fourty hour a week state job and had a custom cabinet business. I would put more hours in a the cabinet shop working nights and weekends than I did at my regular job. There is more to life than money and work! I lost a 22 year marriage and spending time with my family.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Innovator's profile


3584 posts in 3619 days

#9 posted 10-03-2009 02:14 PM

I wouldnt quit until you have 1 yr of income saved up (at a min.).

For now to relieve your crazy schedule, you might be able to hire someone to help out part time. Remember those little girls grow up quick!

-- Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3752 days

#10 posted 10-03-2009 04:01 PM

Thanks a lot everyone. I really like the one year income savings, I actually do not think that will not be hard. I have found business to get more consistent since sort of partnering up with the retail center kitchen guy. The cool thing about that is, I used to drive all over the place, meeting with prospective customers, then giving estimates. Now this guy is doing all that for me for free since I do not pay him. I am finding our profit margins are decent, overhead is small, but most of our profits in the past year has gone towards upgrading our equipment to assist in efficiency and quality. I just recently spent around 2000.00 on tool upgrades and before that I bought an akeda jig which we love, but that was something like 450.00. So I guess I am thinking we will likely be able to save very well in the future since I should be able to stop making large tool purchases soon. We are actually getting ready to build a 50’ by 100’ workshop and we aim to pay cash for the building by pooling together the profits from a few jobs.

Also, I may be biased here, but our product really has come a long way and we provide a very nice looking and high quality product and do great work. I believe if a person does that they likely should find work will find them.

-- .

View Alan's profile


443 posts in 3609 days

#11 posted 10-03-2009 05:04 PM

Jerry have you looked into going part time or doing some sort of job sharing with your state job. If that is possible it would be a good transition. Good luck

-- Alan, Prince George

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3490 days

#12 posted 10-03-2009 09:50 PM

Jerry, just a little food for thought…...and a few questions you will have to answer for yourself. There’s a fine line between love and passion to do wookworking and love making money doing woodworking. I, for one have a deep passion for my woodworking, so was willing to take my coat and tie off almost 25 years ago and throw them in the closet to make sawdust for a living. I’ve never lost my passion for woodworking, but there has been times when it’s not fun because of the money making part of it. We started out as a two income family (My wife had a good job also), so giving up my 9 – 5 job with benifits worked out OK. We still had an income to fall back on as my woodworkimg business was growing. Then my wife got sick….... she was still able to work and she had good benefits, but things began to change, she had to finally quit work and go on disabitly which made a difference on our income. More pressure was put on me to make sure my business could pick up the difference. Cancer took my wife 8 years ago and the pressure was directly on my business to take care of my two boys. (My one son was working with me in the business, so he was relying on the business to take care of his family too) and my youngest son was still at home ready to go to college. This is not a sob story, just real life. I can’t suggest what you should do, but make sure you take time to think everything out first. Be “honest” with yourself when looking at the pros and cons. I’m still making sawdust and I have a stronger passion for woodworking today then when I got started, but there will be times when you will be tested. Good luck with whichever choice you make, but whatever you do, take time to enjoy the family.

-- John @

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3752 days

#13 posted 10-04-2009 02:56 AM

A lot to think about. The benefits with the state certainly are good. It just makes me think a lot about it when I am able to come close to making my state annual salary in 3 average sized kitchen jobs. Today I started working in the shop at 9 am and just quit a 7:30 and I felt like I only put a few hours since the day went by so fast. Plus, I tend to tihnk I would have more time to spend with the family if I were only working 50 or so hours instead of the 60 to 80 hours I am doing now. Certainly a lot to think about. Health benefits are also a concern of mine for the family.

-- .

View a1Jim's profile


117342 posts in 3782 days

#14 posted 10-04-2009 03:29 AM

As most of the gang says don’t quit you day job. I have been self employed for 38 years and there’s a lot of chicken and feathers going on. The one years income idea is a good start but with a business that has expenses and no benefits plus a slower economy I would hold on to your day job especially if you have less than ten years to retirement. I would also suggest eliminating all the debt you can before starting that full time business.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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2387 posts in 3752 days

#15 posted 10-04-2009 03:36 AM

Anyone know about good health insurance opportunities? Also, any rule of thumb on how much I should be saving back for tax time. I have been using quicken home and business. We have the program flagging all of our cabinet related expenses. Hopefully I can just let quicken print off my deposits and expenses so I can pay taxes on the profits. Any advise is helpful. We already run a cabinet business full time, it is just that I have a side state job that takes 40 hours of my time. Currently we are wrapping up 2 kitchens and have 2 large kitchen jobs upcoming. We always welcome the challange. Anyone in the San Antonio area that is bored just give me a call. lol

-- .

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