I’m coming up on one year of being self employed as a Carpenter. It has been awesome, stressful, scary, fulfilling, and fun. It is downright the best career decision I’ve made in my life. In this episode I share a little more of my journey. Hopefully, you can pick up some tips or simply understand the path a little more.
I was recently asked “Where do you want to be in five years?” This question always catches me unprepared. I have an idea, but it’s vague and unrefined. Below is what I want to accomplish for my business by the year 2020. To sum up everything you’ll read below; the ultimate goal is continuous improvement. I want to grow as a person, a husband, a father, a woodworker/carpenter, and business man. Also I want to enjoy what I do and my life. The best way I’ve found to do this is to run my own business.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.” – Mark Twain
Here are my goals, in no particular order.
- 15,000 Youtube Subscribers. Right now I am gaining approximately 200 subscribers a month. To reach 15,000 I’ll need to start gaining an average of 250 a month starting immediately. I’d love to reach an average of 300 subscribers a month by 2020. To reach this goal I don’t plan on making any huge changes to the way I make and produce content.
- I still plan on using my Iphone to record all my videos. When the Iphone 7 comes out I will probably upgrade to that which should give a big camera upgrade over my 5S. Yes the Iphone is limited compared to dedicated cameras, but it’s fast, simple, and effective.
- I’m saving up to purchase a Macbook for video editing and audio recording. I’m currently using Windows Live Movie Maker 2012. Microsoft has not updated this program in 4 years. It works but is lacking many features that Imovie for Mac has. There is also the benefit of being completely in the Apple Ecosystem for standardization for my business. (Although I’d rather spend the money on a premium miter saw).
- For projects I’ll keep documenting all the changes I’m making in my work trailer and things that make my work better. These videos seem to get a better response than furniture builds. I enjoy furniture so there will still be the occasional furniture piece.
- To improve the quality of my videos I’m going to slowly acquire gear to make my videos better. I need a good microphone, a tripod that doesn’t require duct-tape, easy to use lighting, and various shop made mounts to position the camera for the best shots. I’ll also continue to improve my speech, editing and story telling abilities. (Eliminating “Umm…and-so” from my everyday speech is difficult, I want to speak with more precision and confidence.)
- My Wife and I want to Restore Old Homes. We love the old style of the Victorian, Craftman, and Farmhouse homes. Every-time we drive by a neglected house of this style we both want to help and love it. And yes! We do watch Rehab Addict. Last week, we were in Fort Worth for our son’s medical appointment. We stayed in a hotel and went to the Zoo. On our way to the Zoo we drove through the historic district. Saw many abandoned buildings and homes…we were drooling. In particular we drove by an abandoned fire house. How cool would it be to turn that into a furniture making and refinishing shop?! Upstairs could be an apartment and office space. This will also give me great content for my Youtube Channel.
- The way we will start this process is to buy our first home. Before we moved to West Texas we almost bought a home that needed a lot of work. Sadly we are currently renting out the parsonage that used to be part of my salary went I worked for a church.
- Self-Employment actually hurts you went trying to buy a home. I’ll need two years of tax returns to qualify for a mortgage. So we will have to rent, find an owner finance home, or we’ve even considered buying an RV and living on some family land for a few years while we stock pile money to buy a home.
- An RV/Tiny House will give us the freedom to purchase a home that may not be immediately move in ready. There are however obvious downsides to living in an RV.
- My five year plan for home ownership and home restorations is to buy a livable classic style house that needs some work fix it up then sell it for a profit and move into another house about the same condition as the first house originally was. So by 2020 I want to be close to selling our first fixer-upper and moving into our second.
- I want to be a far better craftsman than I am now. I have a lot to learn. There is a great deal I can learn on my own. Youtube is a great source that I have used to learn many new skills. There are also publications like the Journal of Light Construction, Fine Homebuilding and THISisCarpentry that teach skills and best practices. However, I am seriously considering going to work for a GOOD high end carpenter to apprentice under. I don’t think I would work for someone permanently but the opportunity to learn both the trade and business from a more experienced person may be worth the trade-offs of working independently. Either way I want to continue growing and improving my craft.
- By 2020 I want to have one or two good apprentices. I work primarily alone, but occasionally I run into situations that it would just be better to have a helper. I’ve been a “Teacher” for most of my adult life while serving in ministry. Teaching and training young men to be good carpenters and honorable men is something I want to do.
- I want to use my skills to serve local churches. Many churches lack the skilled members to maintain their facilities. I can’t always work for free but I can provide my skills to local churches at cost and even a discount. Being self-employed also gives me the freedom to go use my skills on mission trips. Of course being in a place financially to do this is important.
- I want a bigger/better truck. I am super proud of the fact that my truck, my trailer, my tools, and my business are all completely paid for. The way I look at it I went into business for myself to make money, not go into debt. So from day one of starting Dailey Woodworks I’ve paid for everything with cash. My 2003 F150 is fine for what I do but a F250 would really be better. I have the small 4.6 V8 that struggles to keep my trailer at highway speeds. My wife’s 5.4 Expedition (F150 with more seats) pulls it like a champ. Also my truck only has a 5.5ft bed making it hard to load long materials in the back. 4 doors are a must since my truck is also used for my family. A F250 4-door with a 6.5ft or 8ft bed will be better all around. When I get this truck I also plan on installing a ladder rack, winch, generator, etc to really turn it into a great work rig. But my old F150 has proven to be super reliable so I’m not desperate to replace it.
- Tools – I want all the Tools. Like my HVAC friend says “If buying new tools all the time isn’t part of your business plan, what’s the point.”
So there it is, my five year plan. I want to thank Rick Seigmund, Founder and Host of the Work Strong America Podcast for asking me this question and helping me create a defined vision for what goals I want to accomplish. Having this down on “paper” and out for the world to see is a huge motivator. First it helped me figure out exactly where I want to be headed, and sencond there’s an accountability that comes from people seeing the article and seeing whether or not I’m achieving my goals.
A man’s heart plans his way,but the Lord determines his steps. – Proverbs 16:9 HCSB
I had the opportunity to go on the Work Strong America Podcast by Rick Seigmund. WSA is a podcast about promoting the skilled trades, the skills gap, and combating the myth that a 4 year $30,000 dollar degree is the only path the success in America. As someone who fell into the trap of thinking college was the only path and is now focusing on growing a business through carpentry and woodworking Rick invited me on for an interview.
I first learned about Work Strong America and Rick Seigmund from the interview he did with Ron Paulk. Ron Paulk is a big YouTuber and finish carpenter who I’ve learned a lot from. Based on this interview I made a few comments on the WSA website explaining my situation and what I was wanting to do with Dailey Woodworks. If you don’t listen to this podcast, you should.
Check out my interview:
Late Friday evening my partners and I set up our pop-up tents in our space for the “Kermit Celebration Days” festival. I joined with several members of my church who were also selling their crafts. An elderly man was selling beautifully crafted wind-chimes, two ladies were selling embroidery and sewn items, and I was selling many of my crafts that I’ve featured on this blog before. We set up excitedly with big hopes of selling our crafts, not expected to get rich but in some way receive (financial) validation for the crafts we take such pride in. By 7:45 the next morning we were all set up and ready to peddle our wares.
This is a legitimate question, not a lead in. I don’t have 10 tips to selling your work on craigslist or any of that nonsense. I do have a store room full of stuff that I need to sell. I think I price things fairly (click here for my pricing formula), but I can’t seem to sell things until I cut the price to my cost leaving no margin for overhead, taxes, or profit.
While working on a post about a project I’m finishing up, I managed to wonder off onto the rabbit trail of pricing. I had to come up with my own system since there isn’t much online. After some debate, I managed to come up with a “formula” for setting prices. Using a formula isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s the best I have for now. I think it’s also important to note that it’s not set in stone, I actually built some flexibility into it so that I can keep my income managed and working for me.