I always find it interesting talking to people about their woodwork and getting an understanding of what it means to them. There’s definitely a sense that woodworkers are an enthusiastic bunch that do it because they really do love it. I’ve also noted a recurring theme that despite loving their woodwork people are sceptical to do it for their living and I can completely understand why. There’s been more than one occasion where I’ve been asked if my job ruins the enjoyment because after taking the plunge themselves they’ve had to backtrack their plans as the reality of working under pressure really threw a spanner in the works.
Since I’ve worked for myself for so long (I’ve never actually been under employment) and having woodwork as part of my day everyday I get to experience both the joys and hard hitting realities of it. Sometimes we do get so caught up in all the other things that it’s easy to forget you’re supposed to enjoy doing it. The trouble is I can’t simply do the woodwork; I have to think like a businessman as well and I’d be the first to admit that I’m no good at that!
The pressing thing that always seems to loom in the back of your mind is will I run out of work? and even with a five or six month waiting list this doesn’t go away it’s just a habit to keep on worrying. Other things that take up time that you haven’t planned for including delays from suppliers, equipment breakages and mistakes (yes… I do make these occasionally) can leave you looking at a loss. On a big building job my Dad could come home sometimes after what he called a ‘three grand Friday’ and I used to wonder what the hell he’s on about but now I completely and utterly understand!
And don’t forget we give up all those perks of working for someone else. There’s no one to take over when you get under the weather and certainly no lovely holiday pay, instead you can wake up on a Sunday morning and question whether you ought to go in and get a bit more done, you can feel guilty having a day off when there’s so much you can be getting on with.
Another thing that I miss is that tingly, child like excitement I used to have when I could treat myself to a shiny new tool. It’s just not been the same since the tools had to earn their keep, I find it much more difficult to justify the expense.
Whilst all that is true and may always remain the same Helen and I very quickly found that we could make a pretty good team. We both have the drive to work for ourselves even if we have to rely on creativity to see us through rather than practical business sense . Luckily these days I can focus mainly on the woodwork; Helen probably now knows more about workbench design than even I do and she also knows I’m no businessman which means I pretty much leave all the number crunching, sourcing and planning etc down to her. (she’s also a cracking cook and makes the most splendid cup of tea so I’ve also decided to leave all that to her too 😉 ). As far as a lifestyle goes neither one of us would trade in the freedom and satisfaction we get from our work for the questionably more sensible and secure option of taking a job elsewhere.
This is something that we’d love to get your take on, for example:
~ Have you taken the plunge yourself to do what you love for your living?
~ If not have you ever been tempted to do so?
~ What would stop you taking that step?
~ Is it family commitments or having too good a job to take the risk?
~ Do you just prefer to keep work and play separate?
Helen and I are going to follow this up with our own separate posts as we’ve both come from a very different place in to this business and feel it could be interesting to share with you how it happened for us.