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so I started my woodworking company when I was 16 years old with a 75 Harbor Freight miter saw in my parents barn and every penny I’ve ever made got invested back into this company now and now I have a multi-million dollar woodworking company but it all sounds really good but I still live in this double wide trailer right behind my shop 75 feet from the back door today I wanted to share the 10 lessons that I’ve learned after making my first million in The Woodworking industry so some of these things I’m going to share with you today I wish I learned early on it would have saved me thousands of hours and probably a couple years of my career so these things I’m going to share I hope they help and I hope they bring you along in your woodworking Journey as well [Music] these lessons are in no particular order but the very last one is probably the most important lesson that I’ve learned so stick around to the end to catch that so let’s go on to the first lesson that I learned when I got into the wood industry and that is how small of a fish I am in this giant pond so what if I was to tell you there are 16 companies in the wood industry that do over a billion dollars a year 88 companies that do over 100 million dollars a year and over 300 companies that do over 10 million dollars a year in the wood industry and that’s just the ones that only report to this magazine called fdmc which is like the you know business industry magazine I’ll put a link in the description so you can actually check out all these companies as well when I first got in I thought you know doing a million dollars a year in the wood industry was going to be huge and then when you get out and about I realized I was like this small it was really helpful for me to learn that so then it inspired me to now want to beat them want to be like them and want to grow towards that level but once again I didn’t know that when I was first starting out I thought everybody was like kind of the hobbyist level or maybe doing a million dollars a year and that’s kind of stories that you hear but you never really hear stories about these giant companies so so that was one of the first lessons I learned it did inspire me it pushed me harder to grow to be like them one day and so that’s a very important lesson I learned very early on lesson number two is how competitive The Woodworking industry really is there’s not many Industries or many businesses that I know that you can start the same day you have the idea for it right I mean I can go to Home Depot or any Ace Hardware or any box store and buy a saw and start a woodworking company name another industry where you can start for less than a hundred dollars as a snap of a finger and think about it how many Woodworkers do you know or how many people do you know that can build stuff or look at your stuff and think they can do it better I don’t look at my CPA’s taxes that she does and think I can do a better job but almost every project that I’ve ever made there’s always somebody that thinks they can do it better because they have one of these at their house in their garage in a sander when you first start out and you’re in that smaller realm right you’re only doing maybe 50 000 a year a hundred thousand dollars a year competition is nuts your Machinery isn’t at 11 where people would not buy it where people would not save up to get it in their hobbyist shop so when you’re coming up and you have that Million Dollar Dream or that 10 million dollar dream you have to compete with such a giant base at the base of the Pyramid of competitors and then once you get past that stack it shrinks down quite a bit but that first layer of competition is so stiff in The Woodworking industry because the barriers of Entry are so low and everybody thinks they’re a woodworker because they watch a lot of YouTube they watch me on YouTube so that being said let’s go on to lesson number three the third lesson I learned is that customization at scale is extremely difficult what do I mean by this when I was coming up and I had two or three employees and I was building I was kind of the custom woodworking guy right building conference tables podcast tables these cool cutting boards cabinets all of this custom stuff one day it hit me and I sat down I did the math on how much I have to make an hour to make a million dollars a year doing custom work it was it was an enormous amount of money I had to do and I was already at my limit because the whole company revolved around me and my creative ideas but in order to get to that 100 million dollar level that I want to Aspire to become one day doing the custom stuff I say custom stuff like these smaller custom jobs is extremely difficult I know a lot of successful companies that do custom Cabinetry or custom millwork that works you just have to do it on such a large scale so what I learned is that I did not want to be in the custom realm my aspirations of getting to a 100 million dollar company one day like those in the list I gave gave you earlier I knew that custom work was really not in my envelope unless I did it at a massive scale that allowed me to kind of shift my thinking and think of products that I can produce on a mass scale so I can become that 100 million dollar company one day now on to the fourth lesson that I’ve learned is how specialized equipment is in the wood industry so right here behind me is our glue clamp system and it’s about forty thousand dollars and believe it or not there’s people that laugh at this one because their glue clamp system is amazing 10 times better than this one and that’s just a glue clamp system so imagine how specialized they have specialized miter saws and table saws and up cut and rip saws everything is highly specialized so if you’re competing with those guys that have that highly specialized equipment they’re going to beat you ten to one it is wild especially if you’re competing with those guys that have a specialized equipment in a foreign country that have really cheap labor there’s absolutely no way you can beat them and so As I Grew in the wood industry and as I was coming up I was looking at all this equipment and I studied it I went to every convention because I needed to know what my competitors were using so I can figure out which Machinery I need to purchase in order to slightly have the edge up on them going through the industry studying all those machines and realizing how specialized Machinery can get in the woodworking world really helped me and my business understand how to get around it and go to the next level so lesson number five is how important software is even in a woodworking company so I didn’t think software mattered I’m actually fell in love with woodworking because I didn’t think software or AI could actually change it that much right like woodworking’s been around for thousands of years so there’s no amount of software that’s going to really change it but what I did learn is that like Excel sheets and Google Sheets and having a software to one help you analyze data and two for me is keep track of my shop how efficient we are our yields how much product we’re putting out how much orders we have coming in so a software like this which is called schedule key highly recommend is a custom built software that I had made for my shop when I was doing a little over a million dollars a year because I knew that I needed a software that was able to scale to that 10 million dollar 20 million dollar mark that I wanted to get to in the future on my journey to that 100 million dollar Mark and so this software allows us to see our production out in the shop tell our lasers right here behind me what programs they need to run our art upstairs can send this stuff down to the laser I can send files to the CNC I can communicate with all of our customers through this software and so now I can go from 1 million to 10 million without a hitch as far as the operational sides go and it still even sounds weird to me today that I needed software to help my woodworking company grow but it is a crucial crucial step let’s go into lesson number six so lesson number six and this one took me a little bit to learn it’s doing non-value added activities we’re perfectionists by Nature’s all Woodworkers that I’ve known a perfectionist by nature and we want to do everything right and we study wood and we know all the techniques we know the joinery and we know how to finish products but a lot of times adding that value the customer does not care and it just jacks up the price so take for instance this little tiny paddle right here I’m not going to sand this with 400 grit I’m not going to put tung oil finish on it why because our customers do not care about that so what I did in my business I catered to the 95 of customers that do not care about the smell or the exact finish that you put on there and that’s kind of my market I went to now if you’re going to a market where customers absolutely have to have Burley Walnut with this nice oil finish on it and a shellac coating and all that fancy stuff go to that and understand what your customers are looking for but it took me a long time to understand that not all the customers understand wood they don’t understand wood terminology and they just want something that’s smooth and has a little bit of weight to it and looks pretty so now when I mixed it for myself I do all those things I care about because I’m the customer but all my other customers they just want it fast they want a nice product they want it smooth and they want a little bit of weight to it and that’s what I’ve learned so let’s go on to lesson number seven lesson number seven is that woodworking skill does not matter as much as I thought it did I thought the best woodworker would have the very the best woodworking company it makes sense right that is so far from the truth I know this one company that did a hundred million dollars in sales and the guys that did all those sales absolutely knew nothing about woodworking what it takes to be good from my perspective from my business that I am running right now is understanding systems how to do the non-value added where to add value to the product how to use your Machinery industry knowledge and standards and stuff like that and really how to build a culture and a team so Brian right here Brian how good is your woodworking skill uh four but Brian here is an extremely talented person using machinery and leading people and understanding teamwork and non-value added and how to use different things and where the dilute should be and how all this so all those little things add up because woodworking knowledge he can watch enough YouTube videos because he probably watches a lot of YouTube videos hopefully he watches my channel Ryan give me a like subscribe thanks guys Brian here not the best woodworker one day he will be he’s still learning he’s a little bit young but he’s excellent at everything else I just talked about which I allows our company to grow and continue to grow because I can teach enough woodworking knowledge but it’s hard to teach the leadership and all those soft skills that you have to have people come in and actually develop that internally in your company once again that’s for me because I want to get to that 100 million dollar level so let’s go on to lesson number eight so lesson number eight in my journey is how long a product life cycle lasts I don’t sell commodity based woodworking is what I call it right so I’m not planing down boards or selling flooring your cabinets or anything like that I’m building an Innovative product and selling it to a mass market and so that is the industry that I am in so if you ever seen the technology adoption curve right here where you have the innovators the early adopters early majority late majority and the laggards the same kind of goes for when you’re developing a product right so if you’re the innovator and you come out with that product you’ll get the early adopter customers and you’ll start to get that early majority whenever that happens you have all these massive woodworking companies they’re going to come in and they’re going to start stealing your product ideas even if you have a patent on it wood is really easy to get around patents on especially if they’re foreign patents really don’t matter if they make it overseas and then ship it to wherever you’re located right they come in they start promoting it and within three years your product goes from starting off getting the majority of people to buy and then all the other competition comes in and then it starts trickling down and then you kind of Flat Line it may not be ground zero right but you’ll flat line and that product life cycle is pretty much complete unless you can innovate on it again and so this is something I learned the hard way multiple different times and then now the way my business is centered around it’s going to depend on coming out with those products and understanding that that average life cycle for my products and what industry I am in and what specific Niche I’m in the wood industry it lasts only about three years so let’s go on to lesson number nine lesson number nine is sales versus efficiency so when I was in my parents horse barn you ever watched the the show Sanford and Son there’s like stuff everywhere and you have a little Trail you walk through there that’s how that shop was but that shop did over a million dollars a year in sales now I thought I needed to be and have the most efficient process as possible but once I got to this shop I learned that efficiency does not matter if the machine does not run and if people are not employed which one would you rather have 100 sales and really bad efficiency would you rather have amazing using efficiency and no sales you would probably rather have the money coming in you can figure out the efficiency this is something I learned very recently that sales is probably the number one most important thing to to grow your business it’s not how efficient your business runs though that is very closely in number two the sales side is very hard to fix but efficiency can be fixed because you get somebody in here that knows the lean methodology that knows the Toyota way that knows all of that stuff and he can make your shop extremely efficient no problem very hard to find people that can come in here and just rank up your sales when you have an efficient shop if that makes sense it’s a little confusing just telling you from personal experience my shop and my parents horse barn it was clustery it was disgusting but we did over a million dollars a year there shipping out of my parents bedroom and their living room and there was horses walking through our barn but we’re still doing just enormous amount of product because we had the sales not very efficient but we did have the sales so now let’s move on to the number one lesson that I’ve learned while I was making my first million in woodworking so this last lesson is the most important for me and my journey right now it’s something that I’m continually working on but it’s something that I really had the chance to get to that first million in The Woodworking industry and really in business and in general and that is Shifting my mindset ten thousand dollar thinking does not yield a hundred thousand dollar results so when I was first starting out I only thought of ten thousand dollar thinking right like oh my gosh if I made this I can do ten thousand dollars in sales or let me go to this Market days and I can do three thousand dollars and if I go to enough market days I’ll have thirty thousand dollars in sale well that was thirty thousand dollar level of thinking and then when I put a and yeah that hair loss definitely from woodworking whenever I put a different hat on and said you know what let’s think of a hundred thousand dollar idea you know what I ended up with I ended up getting a hundred thousand dollar results right and so my mindset went was how can I make a product and sell a hundred thousand dollars of this and then it leveled up again and it went to how can I design a product to sell a million dollars of this product and now personally I don’t even mess with ten thousand dollar ideas or fifty thousand dollar ideas unless there’s a potential for them to become a million dollar idea or a multi-million dollar idea and why this is a constant Journey for me I am stuck where I have the 10 million dollar ideas which are hopefully going to yield me 10 million dollar results one day but I do not have the 100 million dollar ideas yet and the 100 million dollar of mindset shift that I need in order to get to that level that I want to get to think bigger is kind of the synopsis of it all but understand that when you’re designing it and when you’re making the product and going through your system you have to understand that can this be a million dollar company or can this be a 10 million dollar company if I do this product this system in this way and a lot of times the answer is no and you have to shift and tweak your systems in order to get to that Mark guys I really hope this helps I hope this provides you value I appreciate you watching so much it really means a lot to me and it means a lot to me that you’re following me in this journey and I can help you out in your own personal Journey do not forget to give us a like if you want to see any other videos please leave that in the comments in the comment sections below thanks and remember if you ain’t cutting it close you ain’t cutting it right [Music] so Brian what’s your favorite flavor of Cheesecake Red Oak what’s your favorite grid of sandpaper oh 80. what is your favorite tool in the shop and why um a wrench using on everything and do you like duct tape or do you like Gorilla Tape um gorilla because I like gorillas …

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