How to Start a Business: Sometimes You Just Have to Say No

Black Walnut Jewelry Display
Black Walnut Jewelry Display

We turned down two commissions this week.  Is that how to start a business?  Am I crazy???  Maybe so.  My pal Derek Sivers who wrote Anything You Want says that when you are starting a business you should say “yes” to everything, because you can’t afford to be choosey.  On the flip side, he says that entrepreneurs are creating their own universe with its own set of principles, and why would they do work that doesn’t align with those principles?  Don’t get me wrong.  One of those commissions was a large refinishing project which I very much wanted to do, but I’ve already told about a half dozen people I would do their kitchen table, bookcase, entertainment center, etc. and there isn’t much time left in the year.  The other project was for six dining room chairs, but those chairs would have required upholstery which is not really my thing, and would require a lot of hand carving which is not currently my thing.  I guess the good thing is knowing here in year #4 of Traughber Design what “my thing” is. I guess it’s time to start saying no.

Another one of those principles was to migrate to a business that didn’t require a lot of commuting.  I’d like most of the work to be in the shop rather than on site, because after 11 years of commuting in DC during two Air Force tours, I’d rather not sit on I95 any longer.  Clients can come to the shop and pick up their pieces, which preserves my new 5 second commute to the garage.  Yes, I still have that lovely I95 commute because this is a side gig for now (I wrote about this some in the post Reflections on 2017…Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Traughber Design!), BUT my retirement papers were approved (hurray!) and we (I use “we” because military service is a TEAM sport as Mrs Woodworker will attest) are within 1 year of official retirement and 8 months of terminal leave.

We’re not aiming to be a Rockefeller with Traughber Design (see our post Lessons Learned from John D. Rockefeller on Life, Entrepreneurship, and Woodworking) but make just enough to get by on military retirement (by the way, if you are making that transition also, I highly recommend Doug Nordman’s site The Military Guide on military transition and financial independence.  He also has some great content on how to start a business). Given our current backlog of projects, making a go of it shouldn’t be an issue.

On to more positive things, like saying “yes”!  We just completed a four sided jewelry display (see picture) for Nomades Collection in black walnut this week and are pretty happy with the result.  You may have seen two of our recent Facebook posts on this.  This was an evolution from the two sided version we profiled in the post Traughber Design and Nomades Collection Team Up!  Some of the new features are:

100% more display space.  The original display had two vertical jewelry trays back-to-back within a wooden frame.  While the two-tray model is perfect for a smaller store, this one has space for three trays and a fourth side with posts to hang bracelets and bangles (I don’t know what bangles are, but they seem to be popular with the ladies).  This allows for twice as much jewelry to be displayed.

A slot for brochures.  This was trickier than it looks.  The lazy susan bearings have to be reached from underneath to screw them in, so we had to make a removable bottom to be able to access the holes.  It killed me to use metal fasteners for that removable bottom since we always strive for 100% wooden joinery, but I couldn’t see a way around it.  At least the fasteners are not visible.  I’m still noodling around on ways to access the lazy susan without the removable bottom and metal fasteners.  If you have any ideas, leave them in the comments below.

Well, we sold out of the corn hole games, so I need to go tell the elves in the wood shop to get busy!  Now, that’s how to start a business…