Next year will mark 25 years of being employed for myself. When I first wanted to be self-employed people made it sound easy. I was told, that to have a successful business you just need to follow this formula.
“Offer a service or product that most people want, and have little or no competition for your product or service. That will equal success and money for your company.”
So I started off the right way. Most people want/need furniture. But the second part is where I neglected the advice. There are so many woodworkers out there. In fact, anyone reading my article right now is potential competition for me.
I had a couple of options in front of me. If I choose to design and sell my own furniture I have a very small core group of customers. That’s because everyone has a different style. If someone else’s style doesn’t agree with mine, then they will pass.
The safer route, for me, is to take the customer’s idea and create what they are envisioning. This has broadened my potential clientele. However, it still is difficult. The bottom line is always the price. If the price is too high they will shop elsewhere. Or, if the competition’s price is too high, they simply might decide they don’t need the product at all.
So getting the final part of the equation of success and money has never really worked for me. However, just this month I found a new untapped market in my town that has quite the potential and it was under my nose the whole time.
In my town, we have a neighborhood called the Old West End. It’s a neighborhood of old houses governed by a historical district. A man with a house in this neighborhood needed a window repaired. Since he can’t go to a big box store and find a vinyl replacement window, he started calling around to the different woodworking shops in my town. Everyone said they couldn’t do it, but two places gave him my name and number.
He called me and showed me the pictures of the damage. I told him I could do it but it would be expensive. It was all done with hand tools and I could not tell the amount of damage until I really got into it. I said it was strictly time and materials. He understood. He had no choice. No one else would do it.
I made the repairs and then took it to get the glass cut for the window. I took it to Trinity Glass, a local glass-cutting shop near my house. I took the window in to get measured for the glass and right away the owner asked who did the work. I told them I did. They replied they get calls all the time for window and door repairs. They called everyone in town for years and no one does it. I gave them my card and said they can contact me. Within two weeks I have had two calls regarding repairs for different projects.
Now I realize this opportunity isn’t for everyone. It takes years to develop skills to replicate old work. It also takes a combination of power tools and a lot of old hand tools. But the unique thing is, that people are willing to pay good money for it because they need it and no one else can do it.
So I guess my formula equation is a little different.
Find a small group of people who need a service or product offered, have little or no competition and that equals a satisfying job for myself, the customer, and a decent price to make a living.
Chad Stanton- Owner of Stanton Fine Furniture- 8/27/22