Starting Out On Your Own – Opening Five Questions

I think in many ways the most important step is answering questions that help identify what you want or at least what you think you want, what is needed to make it happen. This then helps to identify what you have and more importantly what you don’t have be that finance. equipment, skill, knowledge and so on.

DSC_0318Becoming a woodworker does not at all mean you have to become a professional. Becoming a professional has most often meant that those that actually loved their craft in the beginning became a slave to it in the end and ended up hating the monster they themselves created. Keeping control is important. Outgrowing control is a nightmare because all too often you find yourself unable to regain the control you had in the beginning. Another aspect I once found myself in was owning an LLC I didn’t want to own and ending up feeding the frenzied governmental departments at County, State and National levels with taxes, accountability and unnecessary filing of paperwork that forces you to employ someone to do it for you. Keeping what you do as simple as possible is key to your self satisfaction and fulfillment.

OK, it’s time give you the first five questions. Answer them with absolute honesty because deceiving yourself and others only leads to self deception and the deception of others you care for and who care for you. Write or type out your answers and make only the changes that bring clarity through your answers.

Question 1:

DSC_0338What kind of woodworker do you want to become? In other words what trade or area of woodworking would you feel the most drawn to – furniture maker, carpenter, joiner, boat builder, instrument maker and so on?

Question 2:

Do you want to be full-time or part-time, weekender? I assume that you don’t want to be employed because this series is about ‘Starting Out on Your Own’.

Question 3:

What is your present financial position? Turning the existing faucet off doesn’t mean turning on the other will bring the same amount of what you need. We will get into more detail on this shortly. This is for you to answer so you know what your needs will be.

Question 4:

DSC_0768What skill sets do you already have? Scale them on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest level of competence. These skills should include anything and everything you feel might be of value to your start-up business and include at the very minimumIT skills to machine skills. Separate out the categories you feel could or would be key areas to your business such as:

General business management

Office duties including accountancy and bookkeeping, stock purchasing, costing, sales and marketing, people skills, organizational skills.

IT work

Machine skills

Hand skills

Finishing skills

To better determine exactly where you are it is helpful to use a the same method of scaling using the 1-10 scale with 10 being best. i.e:

Tablesaw – 6

Planer – 3

bandsaw – 7

This will help you see your strengths and weaknesses and determine what you need to develop increased skill levels.

Question 5:

DSC_0685Do you have direct support from those close to you and especially your spouse? This is not an I-think-so answer but one you have seriously talked through to the point that you know he or she is with you and at what level.

5 Comments

  1. Brandon Avakian on 11 August 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Picking an area of woodworking to focus on seems difficult to me. I am sure the more you build and create the more likely the answer will present itself.

    • Paul Sellers on 11 August 2013 at 6:50 pm

      When I wrote my foundational woodworking course I developed it to provide the imperative steps from which woodworkers could launch themselves into real woodworking. Sharpness means accuracy in all areas of woodworking and no craft of woodworking works well without understanding these two elements. That being the case, we brought out woodworkingmasterclasses as a way for people to better understand these essentialities. Thus equipped, people learn to work with wood first, before they start defining the exact course they want to take. That said, I think most people do have an idea of what they might want to become say more specialised in without negating becoming a more general woodworker.

      • Brandon Avakian on 11 August 2013 at 7:00 pm

        That makes sense. I guess I have always envisioned myself becoming a “jack of all trades” woodworker because I find beauty in everything we have built in the woodworking master classes. Although I believe it will take many years to become competent in more areas, I look forward to the journey.

  2. Matt Hess on 11 August 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Paul, I really appreciate this series. I don’t know that I’ll ever do woodworking full-time, but I’d love to do it a least part time. Over the years I’ve had more and more requests for my furniture and designs, so I’m at the point now that I feel I could make it at least a part time business. I have learned so much more about hand tool skills thanks to you. I’m very excited to see where this blog series goes as it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for to get to the next level. Thanks for all you do!

  3. J Guengerich on 12 August 2013 at 4:23 am

    This is another great blog Paul. I am a few years away from being able to semi-retire and when that time comes I’d like to be able to build most of the furniture (and fix the furniture that my gal has bought) for us and friends. If I can sell a few pieces a year then I would consider that the icing on the cake. Right now, I’d love to hand tool build that tool chest for my Dad.
    Like you said, I don’t want to get to the point that the tail is wagging the dog. I’m there with culinary and you are correct, it almost kills the passion that we initially held when we have to push ourselves to produce in order to pay for capital expenses.
    If I had found you before I went to culinary school, I wouldn’t have chosen that path. I’d have kept life simple and my expenses low.

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