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EXECUTION Fastlane On-Ramp from Self-Employed Slowlane?

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broswoodwork

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*First process thread and attempt to add some value here. Sorry if my plan is shit (I'll hone it as I go), but better to get rolling with something, and do it in a way where I'll feel accountable both to my self and the legends that contribute here, than just keep flailing wildly.*

I'm Daniel and I run solo woodworking shop where I build custom furniture and sell it exclusively on Etsy at this point.

I started this self-employment gig after being laid off from a decent good paying technical recruiter job. I got going with a 15 year old ryobi chop saw saw that I turned into a weird functioning table saw (picture attached), a back seat full of free pallets, a few YouTube videos as my tradeschool, and a relatives garden shed.

What I do is definitely not fastlane, and having read MJ's book prior to my layoff, I knew this, but I felt like it was better to make a half step towards a real business than to find another job.

Here I am, a few years later, and I'm still kicking. Sales are strong, and I'm doing as well financially as I was with the office job. I have commercial space, real tools, and I don't have to rely on a ponzi style presales strategy to build new product and pay my rent anymore.

But... This is work. Real work. More work than I ever put in for a boss. That's ok, but again, it's not fastlane. If I take a week off, I'm back at square one.

Two part plan:

1) *This week* Get 1099 subcontractors doing as much of the build work as possible without taking a huge bite out of my margins. I've dabbled in this before, so I know dudes with saws are out there looking for side work. This will free up time from my 80hr workweek that's used for business as usual, and help make part two below possible.

2) *Week of the 30th* Expand into other offline venues. Facebook stopped working for sales, and Craigslist is all bargain hunters. My stuff is too heavy, and I'm not efficient enough yet, for Amazon, so I'm planning on expanding into year round craft markets (think flea markets with better quality buyers). Lame right? Initially, I want to have space in two locals craft markets locally (operated by my wife and myself), so I can get a feel for the flow of business and what I can afford to pay and how the pay would be structured (commission vs hourly); then, expand out from there. Still definitely not fastlane at first, but another step towards doing my job without being physically present.

The plan isn't sexy, high-tech, or probably all that interesting, but let's see where it takes me.

Ps. Got a kindle copy of Unscripted to dig into. Been meaning too for a long while. Today is my "come back to the church" day. WP_20140820_001.jpg WP_20141008_010.jpg
 

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sparechange

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send my shoes over!
 

smark

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Hey Daniel, have you considered setting up an ecom site of your own where you will be offering a set number of pieces/products in specific dimensions (those that currently sell the most) and find a fulfillment/delivery company specializing in heavy items to handle your deliveries?

This will take a few thousands dollars to do properly, but if you do, you'll have a "brand" that people will be able to get comfortable with over time.

P.S. I believe Red Stag Fulfillment specializes in heavy or high-ticket items and have numerous warehouses in the US. They won't be cheap but maybe you can check them out.
 
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broswoodwork

broswoodwork

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Hey Daniel, have you considered setting up an ecom site of your own where you will be offering a set number of pieces/products in specific dimensions (those that currently sell the most) and find a fulfillment/delivery company specializing in heavy items to handle your deliveries?

This will take a few thousands dollars to do properly, but if you do, you'll have a "brand" that people will be able to get comfortable with over time.

P.S. I believe Red Stag Fulfillment specializes in heavy or high-ticket items and have numerous warehouses in the US. They won't be cheap but maybe you can check them out.
Hey Smark,

Sorry for my brevity here. Been up and loading/delivering furniture since 1:00am, and I'm like stupid tired.

I started fiddling with shopify, and I definitely have a lot to learn there. Can you imagine? I actually suck at shopify; that's how ecom illiterate I am...

Presently, our stuff is so heavy and expensive to ship, that we've been completely focused on serving a "local" (NYC through Portland ME) market.

Eventually I am going to get a shop up and running that targets that region and expands our visibility.

First thing first though, I want to take a swing at doubling what I'm making in my present venue through physical locations; then, do my own website with a fatter stack of cash.

I get a little nervous as a hitchhiker on etsy's platform. Keeps me up at night sometimes .
 

smark

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Hey Smark,

Sorry for my brevity here. Been up and loading/delivering furniture since 1:00am, and I'm like stupid tired.

I started fiddling with shopify, and I definitely have a lot to learn there. Can you imagine? I actually suck at shopify; that's how ecom illiterate I am...

Presently, our stuff is so heavy and expensive to ship, that we've been completely focused on serving a "local" (NYC through Portland ME) market.

Eventually I am going to get a shop up and running that targets that region and expands our visibility.

First thing first though, I want to take a swing at doubling what I'm making in my present venue through physical locations; then, do my own website with a fatter stack of cash.

I get a little nervous as a hitchhiker on etsy's platform. Keeps me up at night sometimes .
Sounds like a plan Daniel! Maybe when you're ready to set up your own Shopify store you can start by first shipping state-wide before you can find a better delivery/fulfillment option that will enable you to go nation-wide.

Also, I would suggest only learning the basics of Shopify and then having an agency make the store for you according to your specifications (shouldn't require more than a few thousand $). I believe this will be a lot cheaper if you know what you want, compared to having the designer/developer/agency get "creative" and pitch you a solution first before doing the actual store building.
 
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broswoodwork

broswoodwork

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Alright...

Got a guy lined up to do the contract fabrication of the most time consuming parts I have to build to produce my products. Edit: Found him via posting an ad in labor gigs on Craigslist.

It's going to cost me about 10%-20% of what I currently sell them for per unit, but will save me about half of my time in the shop and will allow me to carry actual inventory for immediate sale in-person and on my current online venue. Edit: cost is 6%+/- of my product sales price for half of the actual work.

For a cost of about $560/mo (materials & labor), I'll have half the work done and ready to sell on $8300 in on-hand inventory. Edit: about 60% of the inventory will cover my existing average monthly sales and 40% can be used for in-person expansion, and increased demand on the existing venue due to reduced production times.
 
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smark

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Alright...

Got a guy lined up to do the contract fabrication of the most time consuming parts I have to build to produce my products. Edit: Found him via posting an ad in labor gigs on Craigslist.

It's going to cost me about 10%-20% of what I currently sell them for per unit, but will save me about half of my time in the shop and will allow me to carry actual inventory for immediate sale in-person and on my current online venue. Edit: cost is 6%+/- of my product sales price for half of the actual work.

For a cost of about $560/mo (materials & labor), I'll have half the work done and ready to sell on $8300 in on-hand inventory. Edit: about 60% of the inventory will cover my existing average monthly sales and 40% can be used for in-person expansion, and increased demand on the existing venue due to reduced production times.
I'd say having the guy do the contract fabrication for you is the best way you can go about this.

In spite of how much his services will cost, as I've been told repeatedly by people way more successful than me, Time > Money.

Also, I like how you've separated the extra 40% of your inventory to something that will help you grow, instead of seeing it as wasted capital that you need to rid yourself of like many business owners do.
 
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broswoodwork

broswoodwork

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Ok, so the parts are all built, and the 1099 guy is super gunho about this being an on on-going relationship. Part one of this plan is checked off.

Part two: I'm stuck in crutches (from Unscripted) style trap, and I need to break out. My standard business has been booming, so booming in fact, that I haven't had a chance to run my business the way I announced I wanted to via this progress thread.

At what point does saying, "I have too many orders to run my business the way I want", become the same as "I have bad ankles and can't do squats"?

At a minimum, I've found a method to cost effectively streamline what I do regularly. (Cut in-shop time down by about half)
 
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broswoodwork

broswoodwork

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Watch me f*ck up everything while importing finished components for my business!
or
How I learned to stop working myself to death and learned to love passive repeat monthly sales


I'm trying my hand at importing a finished component for my business...

which is in a new close to home 1500sqft facility, has it's own website as the primary sales venue, and had real employees [fired and replaced by a spray gun] in addition to 1099 guys. Sorry... never updated that stuff.

Samples in. MOQ's are good. Quotes for landed price (if I'm reading them right???) are way better than anticipated, and now I'm basically just stalling till I'm half sure I know what I'm doing.

Worst case scenario: the product plugs directly into my existing work at a lower cost and superior quality than I can source domestically.

Best case: the product doesn't even get plugged into my work, but instead gets sold directly to my competitors, while I start pivoting entirely b2b.

All of this is assuming my inevitable missteps don't land in catastrophic territory, and my shit gets seized by customs or whatever.

Edit: Special thanks to @Walter Hay who's book (Proven Global Sourcing) I have to furiously flip through in between messages back and forth with suppliers. If I had only read it 3 or 4 more times before just diving in to this, I'm sure I would be handling it all more gracefully. I'm impulsive...
 

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Hassan

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Watch me F*ck up everything while importing finished components for my business!
or
How I learned to stop working myself to death and learned to love passive repeat monthly sales


I'm trying my hand at importing a finished component for my business...

which is in a new close to home 1500sqft facility, has it's own website as the primary sales venue, and had real employees [fired and replaced by a spray gun] in addition to 1099 guys. Sorry... never updated that stuff.

Samples in. MOQ's are good. Quotes for landed price (if I'm reading them right???) are way better than anticipated, and now I'm basically just stalling till I'm half sure I know what I'm doing.

Worst case scenario: the product plugs directly into my existing work at a lower cost and superior quality than I can source domestically.

Best case: the product doesn't even get plugged into my work, but instead gets sold directly to my competitors, while I start pivoting entirely b2b.

All of this is assuming my inevitable missteps don't land in catastrophic territory, and my shit gets seized by customs or whatever.

Edit: Special thanks to @Walter Hay who's book (Proven Global Sourcing) I have to furiously flip through in between messages back and forth with suppliers. If I had only read it 3 or 4 more times before just diving in to this, I'm sure I would be handling it all more gracefully. I'm impulsive...
I smell progress here @broswoodwork, and I've always been fascinated with woodwork-even though I suck at DIY. There's a deep creative satisfaction from it, don't you think?

Do you currently have a mix of b2b + b2c?

Anyways, good work! I'll be sticking around to watch you win :).
 
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broswoodwork

broswoodwork

Intermediate User of the Flying Guillotine
Read Millionaire Fastlane
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Oct 16, 2015
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I smell progress here @broswoodwork, and I've always been fascinated with woodwork-even though I suck at DIY. There's a deep creative satisfaction from it, don't you think?

Do you currently have a mix of b2b + b2c?

Anyways, good work! I'll be sticking around to watch you win :).
Thanks for the support!

Some days I love what I do, other days I just love that I'm not doing it for someone else. My passion for working with my hands gets counter-balanced by a passion for building a system outside of the scripted framework. I think the two forces working in tandem are the only thing that's kept me moving in this job I've built for myself.

I've done a few orders for other businesses, but they've only been incidental because my pricing was better than what they could find elsewhere.

I'm hoping (planning), with this new move, that I'll be helping to solve an odd little problem my business personally faces for the 15-20 guys per metropolitan area doing what I do. If not, nothing is going to waste because it plugs right into my personal work, improving the aesthetics, quality, and pricing of my personal product.

My bet is fully insured as a win. (Assuming the seller and I are fully understanding eachother with what all inclusive pricing delivered duty unpaid means... There's an actual question there...)
 
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