Most owners of small custom shops didn't come to woodworking because they were attracted to business. But now that they find themselves in business, it seems like all the necessary business chores of sales, marketing, personnel management, bookkeeping, taxes, etc., etc., keep pulling them away from the fun stuff -- the woodworking. So, why is it that so many of these same shop owners find it so difficult to let go of the same business tasks they disdain? Most of the time they even admit they not only don't like to do these things but also they often acknowledge they aren't very good at them either. Yet, they don't take the necessary steps to delegate these jobs.

Selling is a prime example. The chore of meeting with new clients and cultivating repeat business is not high on the list of favorite things for a lot of shop owners. So, why not hire a dedicated sales person or develop relationships with designers and architects who can take over the primary relationship with the customer? Designers and sales people live for these relationships with end users and have the expertise to cultivate those relationships, taking much of the headaches away for the shop owner who just wants to make stuff and get paid. Connecting with one designer could mean a long line of sales in the future, dealing with just the designer instead of many different end users.

I think it often boils down to control issues. Too often a business owner doesn't want to relinquish control of any part of the process -- even parts he knows he's not very good at. But the sad truth is that no business can meet its potential with weak links on the sales and management side. In the current economic situation, many small custom shops are suffering even more because their owners are weak in these areas. If your control of your business is actually holding you back, what good is it? And in fact you may lose control of your business by not being willing to get the help you need.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.