When do you make the full time plunge?

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Forum topic by windofthewoods posted 06-14-2007 02:15 PM 2020 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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44 posts in 4099 days

06-14-2007 02:15 PM

Topic tags/keywords: starting business

I have been making things for family and friends and other people have shown an interest in what I make. The question is though we will never have all the answers when do you know you can make the plunge from spare time to full time woodworking? I like to make custom furniture with North American Native designs using solid wood and to my knowledge such a business does not exist but this does not eliminate the fact that there is a great risk involved. It may not go very well at all or it may turn out that I can be busier than I could imagine. The possibilities are endless either way. I am scared, nervous, frustrated, and excited all at the same time. Though I have researched my heart out I am no closer to knowing how things will turn out than when I made my first project. All questions and no answers. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

-- Ed,Red Lake, Ontario, Canada

17 replies so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4338 days

#1 posted 06-14-2007 04:00 PM

I once had a store owner who wanted me to be her primary builder…so I quit the old day job. She went out of business before I even started building for her. How do you plan to sell your product? Do you have the financial stability to go for a long period with out a paycheck? My greatest defect is I just never get around to doing sales. Go for it. It was the best decision I ever made.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4149 days

#2 posted 06-14-2007 04:37 PM

I’ve never started a woodworking business, but I’ve been through a number of other startups, and I believe that you quit your primary job to pursue your secondary one when you have the revenue stream from the secondary job to prove to yourself that it’s not just one or two sales and that your income levels are, and when you have customers lined up to take that additional time.

There are some exceptions for when you need to do product development, but there are a lot of companies that should have been completely self-funded, that would have been successful had they been pursued that way, that instead get set up as a “I’ll take a risk and live on savings and…”, and fail even if the people involved manage to deliver product because the customer base wasn’t really there.

If you love doing this stuff in the evenings, do this stuff in the evenings and figure out how to sell it. Once you start selling it, then you can look at the time you spend making it and the time you spend marketing it and compare that to your other income streams.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View woodspar's profile


710 posts in 4124 days

#3 posted 06-14-2007 08:20 PM

Great advice Dan. Ramp up the new before you cut out the old.

-- John

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4335 days

#4 posted 06-14-2007 09:58 PM

I tried running a business and keeping my day job, but it didn’t work for me, because when customers called wanting me to deliver on a particular day, my day job got in the way. I ran a dirt business for three years. When I started I had plenty work lined up before hand and my first year was a good one. The second and third years didn’t do so well because of the increase in cost of insurance and repairs to my equipment, plus I didn’t have any spare time to drum up new clients. My point is, there is no safe way to go into business, whether you have what you consider an ample amount of savings to fall back on, the backing of a bank, or you go part time to test the water, you have to take a risk to see if you will make it. The problem with part timing, as you stated is, what happens if it takes off and you can’t keep up? I wish you the best in your endeavor.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View markrules's profile


146 posts in 4139 days

#5 posted 06-14-2007 10:42 PM

The rule of thumb that I’ve always heard is that you need to start with enough money to startup, fail twice, then start up for a third time.

In college they told us to get a Coke machine. That’s where the profits come from.

(now I’m in sales)

View StevieD's profile


9 posts in 4212 days

#6 posted 06-14-2007 10:57 PM

One must first give a lot of thought to what he is about to do. Taking a very enjoyable hobby and turning it into a six or seven day aweek business. Once you make the move it might turn ugly if you have to do it to pay the bills, which don’t seem to ever stop. Been there done it. I don’t mean to sound negative but if you like the job your doing keep it and start small you can always quit if turns out to be a success.

-- Steven Big Timber Mt.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4185 days

#7 posted 06-15-2007 01:59 PM

I spoke to a man who turned his hobby into a business in order to leave th pressures of a management position.
He said that it didn’t take him long to have the same pressures.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4046 days

#8 posted 06-15-2007 05:19 PM

The best way to take a million dollars out of the woodworking business is to start with 2 million. <g>


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4261 days

#9 posted 06-15-2007 11:14 PM

Money? What’s that? If I took all of your advice… I’d be working at 7-11. I just did it. By faith. my wife has thrown me away, but now I have a shop and more tools and the shop is full of wood. I still dont have any money, but I got a money guy that pays my bills. Who needs money?

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4271 days

#10 posted 06-17-2007 07:23 PM

Mark Decou has a lot of great ideas about this exact topic. You should maybe ask his opinion. He’s been down this road before. Sorry Mark if I ratted you out. He’s full of knowledge. jockmike.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4430 days

#11 posted 07-01-2007 02:21 PM

crap. I just wrote you long reply to your question, and then posted it and found out that my connection was dead, and lost it all. I’ll try again later, I have to get ready this morning for church.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View woodspar's profile


710 posts in 4124 days

#12 posted 07-04-2007 02:44 AM

Mark, If I am writing something extensive, I often save the text periodically to a text editor on my computer. That way, should anything happen, I still have a copy. Sometimes I do this if I want to think about what I have written before posting it.

-- John

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6859 posts in 4004 days

#13 posted 07-05-2007 04:32 AM

Knowing when to make the jump, is like asking how much will it cost to build a house. There are too many varibles to your life that no one else knows.

Any time is a risky time to start a business. It really boils down to miniumizing the risks. Research the laws in your area, the insurance requirements, and the cost of it.

The more varied your skills, the easier it will be to drum up work. Quoting the work is a whole new ball of wax. It takes experience to determine how long something will take, but you have to base your prices on that and the materials costs. also, BE SURE TO ADD MONEY FOR PROFIT AND OVERHEAD. This is not optional. It is necessary, or you won’t make any money. (ask me how I know that)

My stepson is starting a construction business now, and has managed to stay pretty busy, with just a few contacts.

He has miniumized his risks by working for an hourly rate. Providing quality work has kept his customers referring him to others.

Be expecting a tough road ahead and prepare for long hours. If you have a spouse, make sure they’re on board with the idea.

A large part of my being in business for thirty years, was a matter of two things. Being too stupid to give up when that was the right move, and being too stubborn to admit defeat.

Hope this helps.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4185 days

#14 posted 07-05-2007 02:25 PM

1. Goal and plan
2. backup funds
3. spousal support
4. nerves of steel
5. genius-ness balanced with a little bit of stupidity and stubbornness.. I get it!! :D

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1809 posts in 4110 days

#15 posted 07-05-2007 05:38 PM

I have the stupid and stubborn part down pat. I need to work on the other 4 1/2 though.

-- Bob

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