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mailee

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Hi guys, I know this subject has probably been disucced over and over. I am facing redundancy as are the rest of the guys at work. I have been thinking about going self employed for some time now as my woodworking has been taking off. I am not a woodworker by trade but have practiced it for more years than I care to mention (I am now 50yo) My redundancy would probably amount to around £8000 and my question is would this be enough to set up with or indeed to act as a cusion for the first few months. I have most of the tools I will need for general joinery and kitchen fitting of which I have done a lot in the past. I will need a van as the Volvo I own is a thirsty beast. I will work mostly out but do have a small workshop to use where I make most of my furniture for customers. I know it is a gamble I will take and it will mean hard work and late nights. (I am no stranger to that) I think I am asking for opinions from the trades men on here as they have gone through this already. Also where would you recommend as the best place to advertise for a start? Most of my work comes from word of mouth at the moment but of course as you all know part time work doesn't last long once you do it full time. Please someone give some advice as I am at the crossroads without a clue. Thanks.
 

matt

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I'm not (nor have been in a similar situation); however, I'm sure I noticed that you can get a free listing on yell.com if it's just basic text (i.e. no links to websites or email etc). Take a look at their site.
 

trevtheturner

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Hi mailee,

Sorry to hear of your plight. I am not in a trade so cannot offer any specific advice but, by way of encouragement, as your woodworking has been taking off, that sounds like a good start to me.

I am sure those with all the relevant experience will be along soon to give you lots of good advice. In the meantime, you may find a search of the Forum will reveal valuable info. for you as the subject has been raised in the past.

Good luck.

Cheers,

Trev.
 

Gill

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No advice, I'm afraid, just my very best wishes for whatever happens to you in the future. Redundancy can be frightening but you're doing the right thing in seeing it as an opportunity to move into a new venture that appeals to you. I suspect you'll get a lot of well intentioned warnings about the pitfalls of full-time woodworking; and quite rightly so, because there are pitfalls to avoid. Nevertheless, your positive approach will carry you a long way.

Gill
 

Howjoe

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Hi Maillee,

Snap!

I was made redundant in April and have been serving my 6 months notice. I could see trouble ahead at work, and wanted to do something different. My grandfather was a carpenter and taught me a lot as I was growing up, so I thought about re-training and getting formal qualifications in wood trades. Started at college a couple of years ago doing part time evening courses, and now have my City & Guilds Certs and CITB credits.

With my redundancy package I've been using it to start up my own business - self employed carpenter. I'll have two aspects to what I'm offering: traditional carpentry - working on houses - and the finer woodworking pieces for any commissions that I get.

Costing wise, I've had to start from scratch: buying a workshop, electrical supply to it, sound proofing and kitting it out - tools for the day trade stuff and nicer hand tools for the finer woodworking. Then there's the business side of it, getting an accountant, insurance, business cards, advertising and so on. So far, the work that I have booked in, has all been from recommendations and word of mouth. I will do some local select advertising, but I'm not going to spend too much on it.

All in, so far I've spent approx £6k, but as I said, I've had to start from scratch. That doesn't include a van....but as long as I can get a standard size door in it and it doesn't cost the earth to maintain, I don't care what it is...and will look to spend about £3-4k.

I've also done some local research and 'mystery shopping' on the competition, and they all have so much work on that there's at least a 4 week wait!

I'm beginning to see that it'll be worth my while and am really enjoying the experience so far. It is scary, as I've come from a completely different field, receiving a regular monthly salary....but If I didn't do it, I would always regret it.

I think you'd definitely have enough to set yourself up. My only caution and my own concern is that winter is just around the corner and things do naturally slow down....but spring time follows that and the work picks up again.

Best of luck, and I hope you make a success of it.

Cheers

Howard
 

Newbie_Neil

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Hi Howard

Hope your planning all works out well for you, but it sounds as though you have everything in hand.

All the best
Neil
 

tim

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Mailee

Its each to his own in terms of decisions about what kit to buy etc but I would think long and hard before buying a van. I don't have one because I wouldn't need it every day in fact normally only need one for one or two days every month or so for delivering furniture to site. Each time I have rented for £30 - 60 a day depending on the van and more importantly I have probably needed a different sized van every time from SWB Transit, tail lift Luton to 7.5 ton Volvo.

Difficult to predict work cycles - I had a rubbish spring and am now as busy as ever with work heading (hopefully) into early next year but funnily enough furniture is not an emergency purchase so customers can and will just change their minds if something more important comes up.

I advertise in local mags and have a wider word of mouth group simply because I know a lot of people across the country and am prepared to travel if needs be.

Is £8k enough - well technically yes, but it will also disappear very quickly and more importantly you need to keep a cash flow buffer because that is what kills businesses quicker than anything. It will take time for a steady stream to come in (I think most people would reckon on 2 to 3 years) so I would suggest that you keep your overheads as low as poss (eg keep the volvo and work from home if poss) so that if, as is inevitable, a job tips over then you just shut the door to the workshop and aren't paying a long loan on a van or rent on an empty workshop.

All the best with it and trust that it will come right. Its painful and scary at first, then its just plain scary - but when its going the right way its the best thing in the world.

One other thing: people can only offer advice on their own experience. Be very wary of anybody telling you about the 'only' way to do something. Its definitely worth setting out a list of what you want to (and just as importantly) don't want to be doing. Obviously these can be and probably will be changed over time, but its a good start point. And don't be afraid to change your mind and alter direction or focus if it doesn't feel right - after all there's no point running if you're on the wrong road.

Cheers

Tim
 

Manny

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Hi Mailee

About three years ago I was in similar situation (and similar age), I decided to go self employed as a carpenter/joiner and haven't regretted it .

I'd had some previous experience about 25 years ago doing a TOPS course in carpentry/joinery, then a year at Rycotewood college doing handmade furniture and then a couple of years in joinery shops and site work then the recession came along and i returned to the previous job.

What I did find useful were tax credits which during the first year worked out at about £80.00 per week, there's a scheme for over 50's but I think you have to be unemployed for 6 months.

I haven't advertised yet as the work I've done has been by word of mouth and at the moment I only need to work three days a week, but if I need to advertise I'll start by leafleting.

Most of the work has been joinery - making and fitting doors, windows etc., kitchen fitting, laying floors, built in stuff and repairs.

I had plenty of hand tools from before but have bought quite a few power tools mitre saws, power planer, biscuit jointer, router, sabre saw etc. I made the mistake in the early days of buying cheaper tools most of which were a waste of money. Now I only buy top of the range stuff.

I use the car with a roof rack and hire when I need to move large/heavy stuff.

At the moment main problem areas are estimating how long a job will take, getting up to reasonable speed on work I've not done before, buying reasonable timber, not having enough (garage)workshop space (cost of renting around here is high), being able to move heavy stuff when on your own (I've just installed replacement D/glazed sliding sashes and needed help lifting them), keeping up with new building regs.


Best of luck with it

John
 

Scott

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Hi mailee

I'm afraid I've nothing to contribute as far as professional woodworking goes but just wanted to wish you all the best if you take the plunge.
 

mailee

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Well thanks for the great response guys. I have a lot to mull over but think at my age jobs arent too easy to find so it looks like self employment is the way I am headed. I will find out tomorrow what is happening at work but it doesn't look too good for us all. I have of course got the feelers out but am not building my hopes up. At least I know a little more thanks to you all. Fingers crossed whichever way it goes.
 

Losos

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Hi Mailee - Great opportunity approaches! I hope all goes well for you. I can't really answer any of your questions except to say that many years ago I had some involvement in the dubious world of advertising and for what it's worth I say "Don't do it" at least don't PAY for it. Ad sales reps will tell you anything they think will get them a sale, once you've paid the fee it's gone, there's no guarantee anyone will ever respond to it, and even if they do there's no guarantee it'll result in an order. Leafleting & word of mouth especially are the only ways to go for you I would suggest.
 

Les Mahon

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Hi Mailee

I can't really answer any questions for you as I don't work in that end of things, and I live in another country! but I am self employed and would say that the only advice I wish I had had when I started was in the whole Tax area, I recently re-addressed this area of my business and increased my Nett income by 10% - The advice to do this all came from the Revenue office, despite the fact that I pay an accountant!

Best of luck with it

Les
 

mailee

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Hi guys. Well it has taken some nerves waiting to see what happened to our company but finally it has been saved. Another company has bought us out so it looks like our jobs are safe again. I am still toying with the idea of going it alone but once I have saved enough cash to do it. In the meantime I shall of course still be woodworking for profit and pleasure. Thanks for all the advice you have all given and I am sure it will not be wasted in the future. Nice to have friends at a time like this.
 

Howjoe

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Very good news :)

These things come along to test your nerves every so often. Glad it's worked out OK for you.

Cheers

Howard
 
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