It’s difficult to imagine but roughly one year ago, we launched our website selling exclusively PDF blueprints to the general public. The total number of items available at the time, I believe, was 5 and it took us several months before getting our first sale. Fast forward to today and we should hit our 200th item within the next few weeks and have sold products all around the world! So, what have we learned here at WoodMarvels.com that we can share with others? A LOT!
Lesson #1: Put your head in the sand
Ask any entrepreneur what the secret of their success is (other than chance) and usually they will say something similar to what an ostridge does when faced with overwhelming odds, dive it’s head into the sand. Essentially, no matter what others tell you or the negative blow-back from the “establishment”, put your head in the sand and just keep following your passion, things WILL workout in the end.
Lesson #2: Don’t give up!
If you have a passion or a dream, not only should you not allow others to dissuade you from turning it into reality, you cannot, I repeat, CANNOT allow yourself to do the same. Somebody saying what you are attempting is one thing, you telling yourself is a whole other ballgame best left alone. Don’t ever give-up!
Lesson #3: When opportunity comes, answer the door!
When WoodMarvels.com first started, we where nothing. We where a small sapling surrounded by mature trees that blocked-out the sun during most of the day, but with perseverance and luck, we have managed, so far, to outgrow a few of our rivals. We are not a mighty oak yet, nowhere near, but our potential is starting to be recognized by others around us. When ever somebody offers us a little more sunshine, we take it!
Lesson #4: Strength in simplicity
We do have some rather complicated wood project plans on our site, our “Level 4s” but the vast majority of our woodworking plans hover around “Level 2”. Why? Well, we are designing for the general public who have limited carpentry skills and tools, we still create challenging plans for the more advanced woodworker but we realize that offering a stepped approach, moving from Level 1 through to Level 4 is a far easier way to build-up confidence and skill then just offering complicated plans that have a limited niche audience. Keep things simple, keep things straight forward and keep moving onward!
Lesson #5: Offer diversity
When we first started, we offered almost exclusively wooden toys, we still have many designs for more but we are slowly diversifying into other areas. For instance, we now have a nice selection of business card holders, puzzles and other items. Diversification is important as not everybody has the same tastes, we prefer to have a happy “purchasing” customer then one that cannot find what they are looking for. We also think diversity in offerings is important as well, if you don’t have the skill or time, we offer pre-cut kits as well as blueprints and templates.
(secret yet-to-be-released product coming soon, don’t tell anybody)
Lesson #6: Listen to your customers
We are starting to get many custom project requests, some of them are possible while others are beyond our current capabilities but they do provide us with an important glimpse as to what people are searching for on our site. If we get a few customers requesting bird houses for instance, we go on a design binge and not only create what the requests where but also a few additional ones. We always welcome feedback from our customers and every wood project plan includes ways of easing the communication process between us and the builder/assembler.
Lesson #7: Have fun!
If you don’t enjoy doing what you are pursuing, don’t keep doing it! We LOVE designing new stuff, we LOVE the customer interactions and feedback we get (positive or otherwise). The moment a “job” becomes just that, you need to move-on or get-out. Life is too short to waste it doing things that you do not enjoy. Try to have fun everyday following your dreams and passions and things will work in the end.