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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My First Steps - The Search For Cash Flow

As a writer on the woodworking business, I am always reading everything I can find about various ways to operate such a business. That's why I have been avidly reading all of Jim Hamilton's posts on getting started and Sawblade1's efforts to get his business going. These posts contain valuable information and reading them has motivated me to address some of the methods I used to get started years ago in hopes they might also be of help.

I won't bore you with the details of why but when I got started in woodworking I had no secondary income and needed a prompt and regular cash flow. With meager reserves, time didn't permit market research to develop products, speculation, or consignment selling. I needed immediate income. I did have almost all the tools needed in a storage building.

Below is an outline of the steps I took and in upcoming posts I will go into more detail about each one.

1. Luckily, the storage facility where I had stored my tools allowed me to use my space as a small (10 X 24) shop and I set up all my tools using the one duplex outlet in the space. This was essential since I lived in an apartment at the time.

2. Having lived and worked in my hometown so many years, I knew many people and I informed many of them about my new woodworking business. Most of them by phone but many by mail. This was long before email and before I knew anything about computers.

3. The major newspaper classifieds were too expensive so I placed small ads in a couple of local weeklies that served the area.

4. I had postcards made and sent one to everyone in my neighborhood whom I was unable to contact personally.

5. I went to the library and checked Cole's Directory to find area subdivisions with home owners who could afford my services and sent out more post cards.

6. I made some flyers and placed them at any public location that would allow it.

Within a few days I got my first job from a neighbor who was opening a dry cleaning store and needed a new counter and some other cabinets. I had to create a contract form so I could collect a 50% deposit and my cash flow began. More in the next post.
 

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My First Steps - The Search For Cash Flow

As a writer on the woodworking business, I am always reading everything I can find about various ways to operate such a business. That's why I have been avidly reading all of Jim Hamilton's posts on getting started and Sawblade1's efforts to get his business going. These posts contain valuable information and reading them has motivated me to address some of the methods I used to get started years ago in hopes they might also be of help.

I won't bore you with the details of why but when I got started in woodworking I had no secondary income and needed a prompt and regular cash flow. With meager reserves, time didn't permit market research to develop products, speculation, or consignment selling. I needed immediate income. I did have almost all the tools needed in a storage building.

Below is an outline of the steps I took and in upcoming posts I will go into more detail about each one.

1. Luckily, the storage facility where I had stored my tools allowed me to use my space as a small (10 X 24) shop and I set up all my tools using the one duplex outlet in the space. This was essential since I lived in an apartment at the time.

2. Having lived and worked in my hometown so many years, I knew many people and I informed many of them about my new woodworking business. Most of them by phone but many by mail. This was long before email and before I knew anything about computers.

3. The major newspaper classifieds were too expensive so I placed small ads in a couple of local weeklies that served the area.

4. I had postcards made and sent one to everyone in my neighborhood whom I was unable to contact personally.

5. I went to the library and checked Cole's Directory to find area subdivisions with home owners who could afford my services and sent out more post cards.

6. I made some flyers and placed them at any public location that would allow it.

Within a few days I got my first job from a neighbor who was opening a dry cleaning store and needed a new counter and some other cabinets. I had to create a contract form so I could collect a 50% deposit and my cash flow began. More in the next post.
Really excellent info here Bill. Very much looking forward to future installments.
 

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My First Steps - The Search For Cash Flow

As a writer on the woodworking business, I am always reading everything I can find about various ways to operate such a business. That's why I have been avidly reading all of Jim Hamilton's posts on getting started and Sawblade1's efforts to get his business going. These posts contain valuable information and reading them has motivated me to address some of the methods I used to get started years ago in hopes they might also be of help.

I won't bore you with the details of why but when I got started in woodworking I had no secondary income and needed a prompt and regular cash flow. With meager reserves, time didn't permit market research to develop products, speculation, or consignment selling. I needed immediate income. I did have almost all the tools needed in a storage building.

Below is an outline of the steps I took and in upcoming posts I will go into more detail about each one.

1. Luckily, the storage facility where I had stored my tools allowed me to use my space as a small (10 X 24) shop and I set up all my tools using the one duplex outlet in the space. This was essential since I lived in an apartment at the time.

2. Having lived and worked in my hometown so many years, I knew many people and I informed many of them about my new woodworking business. Most of them by phone but many by mail. This was long before email and before I knew anything about computers.

3. The major newspaper classifieds were too expensive so I placed small ads in a couple of local weeklies that served the area.

4. I had postcards made and sent one to everyone in my neighborhood whom I was unable to contact personally.

5. I went to the library and checked Cole's Directory to find area subdivisions with home owners who could afford my services and sent out more post cards.

6. I made some flyers and placed them at any public location that would allow it.

Within a few days I got my first job from a neighbor who was opening a dry cleaning store and needed a new counter and some other cabinets. I had to create a contract form so I could collect a 50% deposit and my cash flow began. More in the next post.
I have already read your book about running a woodworking business but I think that there may be more to it in these blogs … so I look forward to reading more… and hearing stories that may not have made it into the book…
Great book by the way….
 

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My First Steps - The Search For Cash Flow

As a writer on the woodworking business, I am always reading everything I can find about various ways to operate such a business. That's why I have been avidly reading all of Jim Hamilton's posts on getting started and Sawblade1's efforts to get his business going. These posts contain valuable information and reading them has motivated me to address some of the methods I used to get started years ago in hopes they might also be of help.

I won't bore you with the details of why but when I got started in woodworking I had no secondary income and needed a prompt and regular cash flow. With meager reserves, time didn't permit market research to develop products, speculation, or consignment selling. I needed immediate income. I did have almost all the tools needed in a storage building.

Below is an outline of the steps I took and in upcoming posts I will go into more detail about each one.

1. Luckily, the storage facility where I had stored my tools allowed me to use my space as a small (10 X 24) shop and I set up all my tools using the one duplex outlet in the space. This was essential since I lived in an apartment at the time.

2. Having lived and worked in my hometown so many years, I knew many people and I informed many of them about my new woodworking business. Most of them by phone but many by mail. This was long before email and before I knew anything about computers.

3. The major newspaper classifieds were too expensive so I placed small ads in a couple of local weeklies that served the area.

4. I had postcards made and sent one to everyone in my neighborhood whom I was unable to contact personally.

5. I went to the library and checked Cole's Directory to find area subdivisions with home owners who could afford my services and sent out more post cards.

6. I made some flyers and placed them at any public location that would allow it.

Within a few days I got my first job from a neighbor who was opening a dry cleaning store and needed a new counter and some other cabinets. I had to create a contract form so I could collect a 50% deposit and my cash flow began. More in the next post.
The last sentence contained the magical words "collect a 50 % deposit" ! I have been doing that for many years. I will not touch a commision job unless the 50% is in my pocket. NO exceptions. EVER!
 

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My First Steps - The Search For Cash Flow

As a writer on the woodworking business, I am always reading everything I can find about various ways to operate such a business. That's why I have been avidly reading all of Jim Hamilton's posts on getting started and Sawblade1's efforts to get his business going. These posts contain valuable information and reading them has motivated me to address some of the methods I used to get started years ago in hopes they might also be of help.

I won't bore you with the details of why but when I got started in woodworking I had no secondary income and needed a prompt and regular cash flow. With meager reserves, time didn't permit market research to develop products, speculation, or consignment selling. I needed immediate income. I did have almost all the tools needed in a storage building.

Below is an outline of the steps I took and in upcoming posts I will go into more detail about each one.

1. Luckily, the storage facility where I had stored my tools allowed me to use my space as a small (10 X 24) shop and I set up all my tools using the one duplex outlet in the space. This was essential since I lived in an apartment at the time.

2. Having lived and worked in my hometown so many years, I knew many people and I informed many of them about my new woodworking business. Most of them by phone but many by mail. This was long before email and before I knew anything about computers.

3. The major newspaper classifieds were too expensive so I placed small ads in a couple of local weeklies that served the area.

4. I had postcards made and sent one to everyone in my neighborhood whom I was unable to contact personally.

5. I went to the library and checked Cole's Directory to find area subdivisions with home owners who could afford my services and sent out more post cards.

6. I made some flyers and placed them at any public location that would allow it.

Within a few days I got my first job from a neighbor who was opening a dry cleaning store and needed a new counter and some other cabinets. I had to create a contract form so I could collect a 50% deposit and my cash flow began. More in the next post.
Interesting start and I will be watching for future posts. I left the business for many years and now have desire to get back in. Back in the old days I got my real start from a builders salesman who would send work they couldn't do or did not want to do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My First Steps - The Search For Cash Flow

As a writer on the woodworking business, I am always reading everything I can find about various ways to operate such a business. That's why I have been avidly reading all of Jim Hamilton's posts on getting started and Sawblade1's efforts to get his business going. These posts contain valuable information and reading them has motivated me to address some of the methods I used to get started years ago in hopes they might also be of help.

I won't bore you with the details of why but when I got started in woodworking I had no secondary income and needed a prompt and regular cash flow. With meager reserves, time didn't permit market research to develop products, speculation, or consignment selling. I needed immediate income. I did have almost all the tools needed in a storage building.

Below is an outline of the steps I took and in upcoming posts I will go into more detail about each one.

1. Luckily, the storage facility where I had stored my tools allowed me to use my space as a small (10 X 24) shop and I set up all my tools using the one duplex outlet in the space. This was essential since I lived in an apartment at the time.

2. Having lived and worked in my hometown so many years, I knew many people and I informed many of them about my new woodworking business. Most of them by phone but many by mail. This was long before email and before I knew anything about computers.

3. The major newspaper classifieds were too expensive so I placed small ads in a couple of local weeklies that served the area.

4. I had postcards made and sent one to everyone in my neighborhood whom I was unable to contact personally.

5. I went to the library and checked Cole's Directory to find area subdivisions with home owners who could afford my services and sent out more post cards.

6. I made some flyers and placed them at any public location that would allow it.

Within a few days I got my first job from a neighbor who was opening a dry cleaning store and needed a new counter and some other cabinets. I had to create a contract form so I could collect a 50% deposit and my cash flow began. More in the next post.
Thanks Ratchet, I am planning at least a couple of more posts this week and many more after that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My First Steps - The Search For Cash Flow

As a writer on the woodworking business, I am always reading everything I can find about various ways to operate such a business. That's why I have been avidly reading all of Jim Hamilton's posts on getting started and Sawblade1's efforts to get his business going. These posts contain valuable information and reading them has motivated me to address some of the methods I used to get started years ago in hopes they might also be of help.

I won't bore you with the details of why but when I got started in woodworking I had no secondary income and needed a prompt and regular cash flow. With meager reserves, time didn't permit market research to develop products, speculation, or consignment selling. I needed immediate income. I did have almost all the tools needed in a storage building.

Below is an outline of the steps I took and in upcoming posts I will go into more detail about each one.

1. Luckily, the storage facility where I had stored my tools allowed me to use my space as a small (10 X 24) shop and I set up all my tools using the one duplex outlet in the space. This was essential since I lived in an apartment at the time.

2. Having lived and worked in my hometown so many years, I knew many people and I informed many of them about my new woodworking business. Most of them by phone but many by mail. This was long before email and before I knew anything about computers.

3. The major newspaper classifieds were too expensive so I placed small ads in a couple of local weeklies that served the area.

4. I had postcards made and sent one to everyone in my neighborhood whom I was unable to contact personally.

5. I went to the library and checked Cole's Directory to find area subdivisions with home owners who could afford my services and sent out more post cards.

6. I made some flyers and placed them at any public location that would allow it.

Within a few days I got my first job from a neighbor who was opening a dry cleaning store and needed a new counter and some other cabinets. I had to create a contract form so I could collect a 50% deposit and my cash flow began. More in the next post.
Thanks Larry,

I always look forward to your posts because of the beautiful and original designs.

Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My First Steps - The Search For Cash Flow

As a writer on the woodworking business, I am always reading everything I can find about various ways to operate such a business. That's why I have been avidly reading all of Jim Hamilton's posts on getting started and Sawblade1's efforts to get his business going. These posts contain valuable information and reading them has motivated me to address some of the methods I used to get started years ago in hopes they might also be of help.

I won't bore you with the details of why but when I got started in woodworking I had no secondary income and needed a prompt and regular cash flow. With meager reserves, time didn't permit market research to develop products, speculation, or consignment selling. I needed immediate income. I did have almost all the tools needed in a storage building.

Below is an outline of the steps I took and in upcoming posts I will go into more detail about each one.

1. Luckily, the storage facility where I had stored my tools allowed me to use my space as a small (10 X 24) shop and I set up all my tools using the one duplex outlet in the space. This was essential since I lived in an apartment at the time.

2. Having lived and worked in my hometown so many years, I knew many people and I informed many of them about my new woodworking business. Most of them by phone but many by mail. This was long before email and before I knew anything about computers.

3. The major newspaper classifieds were too expensive so I placed small ads in a couple of local weeklies that served the area.

4. I had postcards made and sent one to everyone in my neighborhood whom I was unable to contact personally.

5. I went to the library and checked Cole's Directory to find area subdivisions with home owners who could afford my services and sent out more post cards.

6. I made some flyers and placed them at any public location that would allow it.

Within a few days I got my first job from a neighbor who was opening a dry cleaning store and needed a new counter and some other cabinets. I had to create a contract form so I could collect a 50% deposit and my cash flow began. More in the next post.
Div,

I've always found it interesting how many woodworkers resist requesting a significant deposit before starting a job. From my very first job I knew that I had to work with a deposit and like you I refused to violate that requirement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
My First Steps - The Search For Cash Flow

As a writer on the woodworking business, I am always reading everything I can find about various ways to operate such a business. That's why I have been avidly reading all of Jim Hamilton's posts on getting started and Sawblade1's efforts to get his business going. These posts contain valuable information and reading them has motivated me to address some of the methods I used to get started years ago in hopes they might also be of help.

I won't bore you with the details of why but when I got started in woodworking I had no secondary income and needed a prompt and regular cash flow. With meager reserves, time didn't permit market research to develop products, speculation, or consignment selling. I needed immediate income. I did have almost all the tools needed in a storage building.

Below is an outline of the steps I took and in upcoming posts I will go into more detail about each one.

1. Luckily, the storage facility where I had stored my tools allowed me to use my space as a small (10 X 24) shop and I set up all my tools using the one duplex outlet in the space. This was essential since I lived in an apartment at the time.

2. Having lived and worked in my hometown so many years, I knew many people and I informed many of them about my new woodworking business. Most of them by phone but many by mail. This was long before email and before I knew anything about computers.

3. The major newspaper classifieds were too expensive so I placed small ads in a couple of local weeklies that served the area.

4. I had postcards made and sent one to everyone in my neighborhood whom I was unable to contact personally.

5. I went to the library and checked Cole's Directory to find area subdivisions with home owners who could afford my services and sent out more post cards.

6. I made some flyers and placed them at any public location that would allow it.

Within a few days I got my first job from a neighbor who was opening a dry cleaning store and needed a new counter and some other cabinets. I had to create a contract form so I could collect a 50% deposit and my cash flow began. More in the next post.
Rozzi, it is great to have someone willing to send you jobs they don't want, especially when you are starting out. The nice thing is that in time you can be the one sending jobs you don't want to someone else who needs and wants the work.
 

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My First Steps - The Search For Cash Flow

As a writer on the woodworking business, I am always reading everything I can find about various ways to operate such a business. That's why I have been avidly reading all of Jim Hamilton's posts on getting started and Sawblade1's efforts to get his business going. These posts contain valuable information and reading them has motivated me to address some of the methods I used to get started years ago in hopes they might also be of help.

I won't bore you with the details of why but when I got started in woodworking I had no secondary income and needed a prompt and regular cash flow. With meager reserves, time didn't permit market research to develop products, speculation, or consignment selling. I needed immediate income. I did have almost all the tools needed in a storage building.

Below is an outline of the steps I took and in upcoming posts I will go into more detail about each one.

1. Luckily, the storage facility where I had stored my tools allowed me to use my space as a small (10 X 24) shop and I set up all my tools using the one duplex outlet in the space. This was essential since I lived in an apartment at the time.

2. Having lived and worked in my hometown so many years, I knew many people and I informed many of them about my new woodworking business. Most of them by phone but many by mail. This was long before email and before I knew anything about computers.

3. The major newspaper classifieds were too expensive so I placed small ads in a couple of local weeklies that served the area.

4. I had postcards made and sent one to everyone in my neighborhood whom I was unable to contact personally.

5. I went to the library and checked Cole's Directory to find area subdivisions with home owners who could afford my services and sent out more post cards.

6. I made some flyers and placed them at any public location that would allow it.

Within a few days I got my first job from a neighbor who was opening a dry cleaning store and needed a new counter and some other cabinets. I had to create a contract form so I could collect a 50% deposit and my cash flow began. More in the next post.
I am very interested in these posts Bill. Thanks for being willing to share your experience with us. I look forward to the rest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
My First Steps - The Search For Cash Flow

As a writer on the woodworking business, I am always reading everything I can find about various ways to operate such a business. That's why I have been avidly reading all of Jim Hamilton's posts on getting started and Sawblade1's efforts to get his business going. These posts contain valuable information and reading them has motivated me to address some of the methods I used to get started years ago in hopes they might also be of help.

I won't bore you with the details of why but when I got started in woodworking I had no secondary income and needed a prompt and regular cash flow. With meager reserves, time didn't permit market research to develop products, speculation, or consignment selling. I needed immediate income. I did have almost all the tools needed in a storage building.

Below is an outline of the steps I took and in upcoming posts I will go into more detail about each one.

1. Luckily, the storage facility where I had stored my tools allowed me to use my space as a small (10 X 24) shop and I set up all my tools using the one duplex outlet in the space. This was essential since I lived in an apartment at the time.

2. Having lived and worked in my hometown so many years, I knew many people and I informed many of them about my new woodworking business. Most of them by phone but many by mail. This was long before email and before I knew anything about computers.

3. The major newspaper classifieds were too expensive so I placed small ads in a couple of local weeklies that served the area.

4. I had postcards made and sent one to everyone in my neighborhood whom I was unable to contact personally.

5. I went to the library and checked Cole's Directory to find area subdivisions with home owners who could afford my services and sent out more post cards.

6. I made some flyers and placed them at any public location that would allow it.

Within a few days I got my first job from a neighbor who was opening a dry cleaning store and needed a new counter and some other cabinets. I had to create a contract form so I could collect a 50% deposit and my cash flow began. More in the next post.
Thanks DrSawdust, I just put up another post on shop space.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Item One - Shop Space

Let's start with item number one, what to use for shop space. Obviously, the best thing would be if you owned a shop space such as your garage or some other out building. This would certainly be less costly than renting even a small space. However, it may not be viable in a subdivision with deed restrictions, where you may not be able to conduct any business from your home. Or, it is possible that there are noise restrictions precluding the use of woodworking machines. Check all that out before you start a business at home.

Assuming you have to rent a space, don't start out with a large and costly space. Your monthly rent can quickly drain your reserves. Consider a small space, perhaps in some low rent storage area since most of the high end storage area do not allow businesses to operate. My storage area encouraged small businesses so it was easy to convert it to a small shop space. You can always move to larger quarters as your business grows. My last shop before I retired from woodworking was 1400 square feet.

I often hear concerns that projects can't be built in a small space. Even though it is more difficult to work in smaller spaces, it is definitely viable. For over a year I did power tool demonstations for Skil Power Tools at Home Depot stores. On weekends I would set up a 4 foot by 8 foot space with a small table saw, a work bench, and a few other power tools and build small projects including a childs table and chair set, book case, end tables, and other projects that I would often design on the fly. I wouldn't want to run a business from a 4X8 space but I did sell a lot of power tools because of the neat projects I was building.
 

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Item One - Shop Space

Let's start with item number one, what to use for shop space. Obviously, the best thing would be if you owned a shop space such as your garage or some other out building. This would certainly be less costly than renting even a small space. However, it may not be viable in a subdivision with deed restrictions, where you may not be able to conduct any business from your home. Or, it is possible that there are noise restrictions precluding the use of woodworking machines. Check all that out before you start a business at home.

Assuming you have to rent a space, don't start out with a large and costly space. Your monthly rent can quickly drain your reserves. Consider a small space, perhaps in some low rent storage area since most of the high end storage area do not allow businesses to operate. My storage area encouraged small businesses so it was easy to convert it to a small shop space. You can always move to larger quarters as your business grows. My last shop before I retired from woodworking was 1400 square feet.

I often hear concerns that projects can't be built in a small space. Even though it is more difficult to work in smaller spaces, it is definitely viable. For over a year I did power tool demonstations for Skil Power Tools at Home Depot stores. On weekends I would set up a 4 foot by 8 foot space with a small table saw, a work bench, and a few other power tools and build small projects including a childs table and chair set, book case, end tables, and other projects that I would often design on the fly. I wouldn't want to run a business from a 4X8 space but I did sell a lot of power tools because of the neat projects I was building.
if you love what you the floor space is the last thing to think of it should be all abut working with wood
 

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Item One - Shop Space

Let's start with item number one, what to use for shop space. Obviously, the best thing would be if you owned a shop space such as your garage or some other out building. This would certainly be less costly than renting even a small space. However, it may not be viable in a subdivision with deed restrictions, where you may not be able to conduct any business from your home. Or, it is possible that there are noise restrictions precluding the use of woodworking machines. Check all that out before you start a business at home.

Assuming you have to rent a space, don't start out with a large and costly space. Your monthly rent can quickly drain your reserves. Consider a small space, perhaps in some low rent storage area since most of the high end storage area do not allow businesses to operate. My storage area encouraged small businesses so it was easy to convert it to a small shop space. You can always move to larger quarters as your business grows. My last shop before I retired from woodworking was 1400 square feet.

I often hear concerns that projects can't be built in a small space. Even though it is more difficult to work in smaller spaces, it is definitely viable. For over a year I did power tool demonstations for Skil Power Tools at Home Depot stores. On weekends I would set up a 4 foot by 8 foot space with a small table saw, a work bench, and a few other power tools and build small projects including a childs table and chair set, book case, end tables, and other projects that I would often design on the fly. I wouldn't want to run a business from a 4X8 space but I did sell a lot of power tools because of the neat projects I was building.
Good post. I'm a beleiver that organization is more important that vast space. But vast space is good too.
 

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Item One - Shop Space

Let's start with item number one, what to use for shop space. Obviously, the best thing would be if you owned a shop space such as your garage or some other out building. This would certainly be less costly than renting even a small space. However, it may not be viable in a subdivision with deed restrictions, where you may not be able to conduct any business from your home. Or, it is possible that there are noise restrictions precluding the use of woodworking machines. Check all that out before you start a business at home.

Assuming you have to rent a space, don't start out with a large and costly space. Your monthly rent can quickly drain your reserves. Consider a small space, perhaps in some low rent storage area since most of the high end storage area do not allow businesses to operate. My storage area encouraged small businesses so it was easy to convert it to a small shop space. You can always move to larger quarters as your business grows. My last shop before I retired from woodworking was 1400 square feet.

I often hear concerns that projects can't be built in a small space. Even though it is more difficult to work in smaller spaces, it is definitely viable. For over a year I did power tool demonstations for Skil Power Tools at Home Depot stores. On weekends I would set up a 4 foot by 8 foot space with a small table saw, a work bench, and a few other power tools and build small projects including a childs table and chair set, book case, end tables, and other projects that I would often design on the fly. I wouldn't want to run a business from a 4X8 space but I did sell a lot of power tools because of the neat projects I was building.
Bill, Your advice is good down to earth information. I hope everyone that's thinking of starting a woodworking business will take the time to follow your blog. I know I'll be following because even after 25 years in this business, I'm always interested in hearing from other woodworking professionals. Good luck with the blog and look forward to your next post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Item One - Shop Space

Let's start with item number one, what to use for shop space. Obviously, the best thing would be if you owned a shop space such as your garage or some other out building. This would certainly be less costly than renting even a small space. However, it may not be viable in a subdivision with deed restrictions, where you may not be able to conduct any business from your home. Or, it is possible that there are noise restrictions precluding the use of woodworking machines. Check all that out before you start a business at home.

Assuming you have to rent a space, don't start out with a large and costly space. Your monthly rent can quickly drain your reserves. Consider a small space, perhaps in some low rent storage area since most of the high end storage area do not allow businesses to operate. My storage area encouraged small businesses so it was easy to convert it to a small shop space. You can always move to larger quarters as your business grows. My last shop before I retired from woodworking was 1400 square feet.

I often hear concerns that projects can't be built in a small space. Even though it is more difficult to work in smaller spaces, it is definitely viable. For over a year I did power tool demonstations for Skil Power Tools at Home Depot stores. On weekends I would set up a 4 foot by 8 foot space with a small table saw, a work bench, and a few other power tools and build small projects including a childs table and chair set, book case, end tables, and other projects that I would often design on the fly. I wouldn't want to run a business from a 4X8 space but I did sell a lot of power tools because of the neat projects I was building.
No question that the bigger the better for a wood shop. I noticed that I tended to grow into the space each time I moved into a larger shop. I guess the important thing is to realize that while a larger space is an advantage, it's not essential to making it in the woodworking business. You can get started with a small space and grow as funds permit and if you choose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Item One - Shop Space

Let's start with item number one, what to use for shop space. Obviously, the best thing would be if you owned a shop space such as your garage or some other out building. This would certainly be less costly than renting even a small space. However, it may not be viable in a subdivision with deed restrictions, where you may not be able to conduct any business from your home. Or, it is possible that there are noise restrictions precluding the use of woodworking machines. Check all that out before you start a business at home.

Assuming you have to rent a space, don't start out with a large and costly space. Your monthly rent can quickly drain your reserves. Consider a small space, perhaps in some low rent storage area since most of the high end storage area do not allow businesses to operate. My storage area encouraged small businesses so it was easy to convert it to a small shop space. You can always move to larger quarters as your business grows. My last shop before I retired from woodworking was 1400 square feet.

I often hear concerns that projects can't be built in a small space. Even though it is more difficult to work in smaller spaces, it is definitely viable. For over a year I did power tool demonstations for Skil Power Tools at Home Depot stores. On weekends I would set up a 4 foot by 8 foot space with a small table saw, a work bench, and a few other power tools and build small projects including a childs table and chair set, book case, end tables, and other projects that I would often design on the fly. I wouldn't want to run a business from a 4X8 space but I did sell a lot of power tools because of the neat projects I was building.
John, thanks for your comments. I definitely plan to keep posting on the woodworking business.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Item Two - Getting the Word Out

Item two involves notifying everyone you know about your new business. Before starting this I would make up some business cards that clearly state the work you do. Make them clean looking and avoid anything that might confuse people about the work you do. I have made some excellent cards on my computer using simple software and biz card stock but you can also purchase them and even get some for the price of shipping from a company called VistaPrint.com.

Once you have the cards, start by face-to-face contact with people you know well. Let them know about your business and ask them to pass the word along. Give them one or more cards. Get friends and family to participate in getting new business.

Phone others who may be difficult to reach personally. Tell them about your new business and ask them to tell others. Offer to send them business cards.

Create a short letter describing your services and the benefits of doing business with you and send it to every address you have. Include a business card. Do the same with email and personalize the messages. Don't send an impersonal message to a long list. Create a simple email message and then copy it. Then send a message to each individual on your list by pasting the message and typing in a short, personal sentence. It's a lot more work but the recipient is more likely to read it then an impersonal message send to a hundred people.

If you have a web site, create a sub domain just for the business. Include pictures and emphasize the benefits of your business. Include a little about yourself but remember that most people are interested in what's in it for them, so stick with the benefits. Mention any special qualities of your work. If you don't have a web site, create one. The cost is now quite low. If you don't want to spend on hosting and registration, create a blog on Wordpress or Blogspot at no cost. The important thing is to have information and pictures of your work.

Even though the web is important now, don't overlook creating an album of your work to carry with you. Have a few pictures in an album to show people what you have already done so they can feel comfortable about you doing their job. One fellow I met recently had his album of pictures on his iPhone and it was impressive.

Make it easy for potential customers to do business with you. Be available and willing to spend time discussing jobs in detail. If you want people to be interested in your work, you need to be interested in their needs. Attitude is important so be prepared to give of your time and knowledge.
 

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Item Two - Getting the Word Out

Item two involves notifying everyone you know about your new business. Before starting this I would make up some business cards that clearly state the work you do. Make them clean looking and avoid anything that might confuse people about the work you do. I have made some excellent cards on my computer using simple software and biz card stock but you can also purchase them and even get some for the price of shipping from a company called VistaPrint.com.

Once you have the cards, start by face-to-face contact with people you know well. Let them know about your business and ask them to pass the word along. Give them one or more cards. Get friends and family to participate in getting new business.

Phone others who may be difficult to reach personally. Tell them about your new business and ask them to tell others. Offer to send them business cards.

Create a short letter describing your services and the benefits of doing business with you and send it to every address you have. Include a business card. Do the same with email and personalize the messages. Don't send an impersonal message to a long list. Create a simple email message and then copy it. Then send a message to each individual on your list by pasting the message and typing in a short, personal sentence. It's a lot more work but the recipient is more likely to read it then an impersonal message send to a hundred people.

If you have a web site, create a sub domain just for the business. Include pictures and emphasize the benefits of your business. Include a little about yourself but remember that most people are interested in what's in it for them, so stick with the benefits. Mention any special qualities of your work. If you don't have a web site, create one. The cost is now quite low. If you don't want to spend on hosting and registration, create a blog on Wordpress or Blogspot at no cost. The important thing is to have information and pictures of your work.

Even though the web is important now, don't overlook creating an album of your work to carry with you. Have a few pictures in an album to show people what you have already done so they can feel comfortable about you doing their job. One fellow I met recently had his album of pictures on his iPhone and it was impressive.

Make it easy for potential customers to do business with you. Be available and willing to spend time discussing jobs in detail. If you want people to be interested in your work, you need to be interested in their needs. Attitude is important so be prepared to give of your time and knowledge.
These are all good starting points, Bill. Folks shouldn't underestimate the power of the web. I started out believing that you just can't sell custom furniture on the web, but 90% of my sales are done from clients from all over the country looking at my web site.
Also, on the photo album topic, you can also make a nice album with the digital photo frames that available now. They hold a lot of pictures.
Thanks for the series and your insight on this subject.
 

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Item Two - Getting the Word Out

Item two involves notifying everyone you know about your new business. Before starting this I would make up some business cards that clearly state the work you do. Make them clean looking and avoid anything that might confuse people about the work you do. I have made some excellent cards on my computer using simple software and biz card stock but you can also purchase them and even get some for the price of shipping from a company called VistaPrint.com.

Once you have the cards, start by face-to-face contact with people you know well. Let them know about your business and ask them to pass the word along. Give them one or more cards. Get friends and family to participate in getting new business.

Phone others who may be difficult to reach personally. Tell them about your new business and ask them to tell others. Offer to send them business cards.

Create a short letter describing your services and the benefits of doing business with you and send it to every address you have. Include a business card. Do the same with email and personalize the messages. Don't send an impersonal message to a long list. Create a simple email message and then copy it. Then send a message to each individual on your list by pasting the message and typing in a short, personal sentence. It's a lot more work but the recipient is more likely to read it then an impersonal message send to a hundred people.

If you have a web site, create a sub domain just for the business. Include pictures and emphasize the benefits of your business. Include a little about yourself but remember that most people are interested in what's in it for them, so stick with the benefits. Mention any special qualities of your work. If you don't have a web site, create one. The cost is now quite low. If you don't want to spend on hosting and registration, create a blog on Wordpress or Blogspot at no cost. The important thing is to have information and pictures of your work.

Even though the web is important now, don't overlook creating an album of your work to carry with you. Have a few pictures in an album to show people what you have already done so they can feel comfortable about you doing their job. One fellow I met recently had his album of pictures on his iPhone and it was impressive.

Make it easy for potential customers to do business with you. Be available and willing to spend time discussing jobs in detail. If you want people to be interested in your work, you need to be interested in their needs. Attitude is important so be prepared to give of your time and knowledge.
Next to business cards, the next most important tool in "getting the word out" is a digital camera. A good one. If you aren't good at photography, learn! Once you have the pictures, save them on a laptop computer in neat orderly files so you can locate a particular photo at a moment's notice. Once you have these pictures on the laptop, live with it! Make it a part of you, so that when you run intro a prospective client you can show them your work on the spot.
 
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