Woodworking Business 101 (2013)

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

A brief post about William Benitez’s Woodworking Business 101.

As an introduction to what I might need for Alasdair’s, it was helpful. The helpful business advice was don’t overestimate your skill; don’t underestimate your skill; keep up with one’s accounting; use contracts; advertise on social media; price one’s work fairly yet profitably.

Good things to think about in relation to making money through woodworking.

For the purposes of this blog, Benitez’s final reflections caught my attention:

There are two basic elements in my philosophy of business. The first is the golden rule. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated. If you have any doubt about how to deal with someone in a certain situation, simply stop for a moment and determine how you would like to be dealt with if the situation were reversed…. The second element is to keep things simple (81).

This seems like good advice for the small business person. In fact, at my day job just a few weeks ago, I was proofing a business ethics course in which the professor kept coming back to the golden rule as a basis for a global business ethic since every culture recognizes some variation of the golden rule. Whether or not corporations would respect it as a basis for their globalization efforts’ business ethic (I’m doubtful), the golden rule certainly works for one’s own interactions with others. And it’s worth, as Benitez says, stopping from time to time to reflect on how we’re treating the people we interact with. A good, virtuous practice indeed.

I also like the notion of simplicity in business. Again, at my day job, I often find myself proofing some Six Sigma course, or a Project Management course. It’s interesting to see how complicated these two business methodologies can make things. On Friday, I found myself listening to a professor describe the various processes for “project selection,” that is, which project should a business take on. Complicated stuff. Benitez simply advises one, when making a bid for some carpentry job, to make an offer and see whether or not the customer accepts. Then, get a deposit to help defer some of the initial costs. There are more nuanced parts of the book, but this forms the basis of his project selection methodology. Simple stuff.

More than just good business advice, the golden rule and the pursuit of simplicity are integral to the Christian walk, as the sermon on the mount and the monastic tradition—to name but two examples—make clear.

In closing, I doubt I’ll find myself in a position to be bidding for jobs for many years (perhaps several decades); nevertheless, Benitez’s book offers even little-old-simple-me a really good introduction to business for the solo woodworker and, via a good bibliography, really good advice for where to go next.

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