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Clumsy beginnings, clumsy growth spurts.3/16
For everyone that has been giving me beautiful advice on this forum, I would like to report that it has been very fruitful. Things are changing fast for what it is, and it's a wonderful thing to experience.There are some truely fantastic minds here.
I think that a lot of the great insights that I have been given come from people that have their shit together, mostly at least, at the present momment. But I'm (mostly) no fool--no one gets to that state in entire grace.
I'm just curious... if you look back at your beginnings, be it management, ownership, or both, what were some of your clumsier momments? What woke you up? What would you would change if you had a re-do?
PS... your general consensus to tackle company culture has been rewarding in more ways than I can count.
A corollary to this question might be "What do you think you should be doing differently in the future?"
Should have provided better training. Had a true system in place that was always followed for all aspects of the business. If a new hire didn't work out, let them go sooner, rather than later. Should have been able to see where I was headed, better planning.
Been in business now going on 30 years. Can say building my own doors during the first 8-10 years was by far the biggest mistake. Most time consuming part of building cabinets for a small shop. Since starting to buy my doors, it has given me more options for the customer and increased production. In Las Vegas now and doors are being delivered to my shop in Ga. and waiting for me when I get back.
I would never again hire someone who owned their own business and put them into a position of management in mine. Every single one of them insisted on running my company with the same inept practices they used to run their own company into the ground.
Best thing I ever did was start telling my problems to other people, including my employees. Second: mastering cash flow planning. Third: I've been lucky when I needed to be lucky.
Tried being good at too many things same time. Found doing one thing well allows more time for future endeavors.
Paul, you say lucky, I doubt that. I say the harder I work, the luckier I get...
If I recall correctly, Paul D has a desk with "Luck favors the prepared" carved into it. I'll bet he was prepared when luck came his way, in addition to his other attributes.
I learned to stop stressing, or at least to stop communicating stress. I learned to listen and to encourage and support. I learned to think about what I don't know. I learned to be wrong, and to be OK with that.
Then I relearned everything I thought I already knew. Often. I learned to be wary of my assumptions.
I'll relate something that was said here years ago and bears repeating. This was posted as a member was going thru a divorce. It was determined that we are kings in our shops - solving problems, meeting challenges, achieving goals - all with parameters of our own making. Then we go home, and there are non- compliant 3 yr olds, a spouse that may have other priorities, and a whole world that just does not bend to the will like our shop environment does. This can make our work, and even more work, a refuge for our type, at the expense of our lives away from the shop. The expense of families, children and social life in general.
So, it is wise to have some balance.
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
Thomas A. Edison
Don't think that always means literal overalls, or physical work.
David, this divorce situation description has created an image in my head that is probably comical/ironic/true in some cases... Husband runs shop. Wife runs home/kids. Husband is always late, gone, has head always elsewhere.
Could the husband become the equivalent of the household's worst worker? But then the two are also running a relationship. And chances are, they have become two bad business partners, both too busy working on some other project.
Life is sure messy sometimes.
As for luck-- I think everyone has opportunities pop up; it's up to you to see it, grab it, work it. Or have it run by right under your nose.
Thanks everyone for responding, this is really interesting. So did you folks initially have an inkling where you were going wrong? Do most of us kind of know where the messier areas of our endeavors lie?
I got started buy making some simple wooden toys for my sisters little kids, long ago. That of course, evolved into a 25,000' fixture shop. Like the rest of my life, random events.
Please tell me you are a professional toy maker, Larry!
My story is a little different than most as I am I unique field of woodworking. I make personalized puzzles for children.
I tried many different avenues in wood working as a hobby. Then I found puzzles. I found that I enjoyed making them and could do the very well. Started selling them and other children's items as a hobby. Found that there was a market for personalized puzzles and other personalized items for kids. Then the company I had a full time management job with for over 10 years was on it's way out of business. Took the plunge and decided to do puzzles full time. The first few years was tough trying to keep the business afloat.
Now 12 years later, I use 2 cnc machines to cut my puzzles with and sell over 20,000 puzzles a year with 13 employees. The first years were rough but the last several years have been very rewarding and I wouldn't trade it for any other job!
Toy making was long ago. Fun but hard to make a living.
I'll bet you could dominate the yo-yo market with what you know now and the equipment you have to work with!
Whhhat!!! Puzzle making business!!! Very nice. I've concocted an image of your shop in my mind and it may resemble Charlie's chocolate factory... :)
Cool toys Larry. My boy has a good bunch of very nice wooden toys--interesting to compare destruction ratios in relation design/construct aspects! The best toys are wooden. But I may be biased.