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Reply by Betsy

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Posted on What would you start with to be as profitable as possible

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Betsy

3394 posts in 4782 days


#1 posted 05-06-2017 03:48 AM

As others have said – getting into a woodworking business and being profitable is a tough slog even in a robust economy.

Having a $20,000 investor sounds good, but when you start looking at just start up costs, $20,000 does not stretch far.

The investor really has to have a lot of confidence in you to be willing to invest that much on a startup business. Unless you know this person well, I’d be cautious accepting funds unless you have a very well written agreement about how you and the investor intend for profits to be distributed. A person does not invest $20,000 without an idea of making money on that investment. Seed money on a woodworking business is a high risk investment so a written agreement is a must.

Having a working partner is also a tough thing to work on. Being friends and enjoying the pastime together is one thing, having a business with a partner is like a marriage. It can go south quickly. If you are going to partner with someone – it’s a must to have a written partnership agreement spelling out who does what, who gets what, etc.

It’s not all pessimism though – some people make a good, if not, decent living woodworking.

I also have misgivings about using CNC as a field – as Gerry said – it’s a tool and an expensive one to boot. I also have many friends with different varieties of CNC machines and most of them are used for fun – they have found it difficult to make a living using the machine. The ones that actually do make a living woodworking use their CNC machines very seldom. One friend calls his a “tread mill.” It sounded good when he bought it and he used it a lot for a little while then before long it was pushed to the side of the shop and stands mostly unused.

Something that you may look at is opening a community shop charging for use of shop time. People in the surrounding area who would like to work wood can reserve shop and tool time. If you are comfortable teaching classes that’s also another avenue to consider. From personal experience I have had a lot of folks ask me about renting my shop to do a project. There are a ton of folks out there who would really enjoy making things but for whatever reason cannot have a shop of their own. I have one acquaintance that is a very talented woodworker but only owns a nice set of chisels. He shop-hops from one friend to the next. I don’t “rent” shop time in my shop just because of insurance issues – but if that’s the nature of your business you can find pretty reasonable insurance to cover the liability issues.

All that said – start with looking at books and/or classes about starting a small business. Very few people make a go at their own business without having some sort of business sense. If you don’t have a plan you end up just throwing money away trying to find what works.

Craft and/or art shows is another avenue to work. Although it sounds like you are more or less home bound so shows may not be an alternative. But it’s something to keep in the back of your mind. Again though, shows are also a tough slog.

Good luck.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine


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