First of all, my hats off to those of you who regularly post on this
group. It's been a great place to dig for answers to many of my
woodworking questions. Thanks everyone!
Ok, onto my post. I'll try to keep this brief...
I'm seriously thinking about leaving my current job, moving back to
Canada (my home country), entering a 6 month Joinery/Cabinetmaking
Entry Level Trades Training program, and starting an new career in that
field. At the moment I'm wait-listed for the program, so it's only a
matter of time before the day comes when the ball will begin to roll.
I have very little apprehension about the career change as my current
job was only ever supposed to be temporary (1 year of teaching English
overseas has turned into 6) and I was never that interested in it from
Woodworking is something that I've always enjoyed and have been doing
since I was very young. So after I recently turned 30 I realized, "this
is it...life is passing me by and it's time I got started on a career
that I'd love as opposed to something that is only there to pay the
Enough about me. Who I really want to hear from are those of you who
have been working in the field as professional cabinetmakers, CNC
operators, wooden boat builders, etc. I'm curious about your thoughts
on your careers, job-satisfaction, apprenticeships, job related health
concerns, working conditions, and anything else you might care to
share. Of course any advice or questions on fine tuning my career
would also be greatly appreciated.
Looking forward to reading your replies...
Go for it! Steve
I am a keen amateur woodworker and really enjoy what I do. And the
business is building up through word of mouth.
Just landed a 4000 euro 5,657.42 CAD contract for cabinets and a table.
It just requires honesty and confidence. I do hope you dream comes true.
It will all be down to your own efforts
Go and see people spend time with them and bring a box of sample woods and
finishes. Clients really like that.
have a look at what I do. http://www.connoraston.com
If I cant make it - I'll Try!
I was semi-pro for about 10 years (you make enough money to support
your habbit but not enough to quit the day job) before I went full
time. I love the work. Do you want to be an employee, or business
owner? Big differences here. You should establish some sort of a
reputation first, before venturing out on your own. I find that I spend
almost as much time running the business as I do making things, and I
don't have any employees. I do love what I do.
Just a couple of things to remember along the way.
1) The hardest part of running your own business is the ability to say NO to
customers. As much as you are going to be confident and eager to do a project,
go with your gut..ANY apprehension, walk away from it. There will be more
opportunities coming your way.
2) Lose the idea that "being Your Own Boss" is fun. You'll find out soon enough
that you're working for a prick, one who will ask you to rise to heights that
you would never consider if you were to be working for somebody else.
When, however, a project is completed, you get paid, no hassles, deadline was
met, you get an incredible feeling of accomplishment the likes of which you
cannot buy. Nothing feels better that getting a referral.
3) Never make promises you can't keep. Customers hate that shit.
Don't over-spend on tools. Rentals are a great way to get to know a tool before
you make a choice.
4) Tools are needed to do the jobs. They're not intended to be collectors items.
5) ALWAYS draw up a proposal/contract/invoice and ask for enough of a deposit so
you won't have to stiff your suppliers.
6) Send a cheque for 1500 Can$, to me for this advice.
Definitely take it slow before heading out on your own. A lot of
cabinetmakers struggle to keep up with the business side (either
because they have too many or too few projects).
Remeber that running the business takes a set of skills you build over
time, just like woodworking, business is no different. You'll need to
know things like:
What kind of customer do you like to work with?
What price-point are you comfortable working in?
Do you have a niche or speciality the appeals to you?
One of the most important things to remember is that "word of mouth"
business doesn't mean you don't tell people about yourself. A lot of
cabinetmakers are sitting on a list of 50 people who'd love to tell
their friends and neighbors about them. Once you've built up a network
of satisfied customers, a simple postcard is all it takes to bring in a
little more business.
This is great! Thanks everyone for all the positive feedback so far...
To give you a little more info on where I'm at:
Being self-employed isn't that terrifying. For the last five years
I've been self-employed in Japan running my own language school. But
the opportunity to open my school was literally thrown in my lap along
with 75 students (my former employer went bankrupt.) It's been a great
ride, but I never intended to make a career out of teaching English and
now I'm feeling ready to move on. After two years of soul searching, I
think I know what I want to do back in Canada...
After I graduate from the 6 month Joinery program I intend to
apprentice for four years to get my Canadian Red Seal. Additionally
I've been studying CAD in my free time and would like to incorporate
those skills into my career. Not sure where I'll end up working but
sticking around BC would be nice. Of course starting another business
sounds appealing, but I'll wait and see when the time comes...
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