second job framers


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Nov 19, 1998
whitewater,wi.53190 usa
This is for those of us who currently work another jobe besides framing. The question I have, and I guess it's impossible to answer, but I'll ask anyway, is when do you know when to quit the other job and concentrate on framing? My frame store has been open a year and a half. This year has done much better than the first. I am afraid that the business will only grow so far without my undivided attention. I work at my frame shop only part time during the week being there all day friday and saturday. My second jobe is from 3-midnight sunday thru thursday.

I guess I am afraid to give up the comfort of the second check which has bankrolled my framing venture. I have been at the second job long enough to qualify for a retirement check so I would't be totally without money. So far no one has complained about my hours, but I am starting to become anxious about getting the framing done in a timely manner.

The business is growing faster than I first expected and that's good. I think I am trying to find a critical mass that will make me aware of when to leave my other job, but I'm not sure if that is the right course. I guess I'm also a little confused as to how to put this into words. Thanks in advance.
Joe, the only kind of business you can build working part time, is a part time business.

To do anything right, you have to give your all.

Why not have a part time marriage, a part time health insurance plan. You could learn to play a musical instrument part time. Think what a great part time dancer you could be. It's called half *** effort.

Another way of looking at it is, nothing will build your business faster than fear.

You can probably guess by the forgoing what I think you should do, unless of course, you only read part of this.

Anyway, go for it!

I also have a second job. It is not the income that I cannot give up. It is the health insurance. Health insurance in this country has gotten so expensive that it takes a second income to pay for it We are also not youngsters. My husband has had open heart surgery, so it is just the way it is.

Litte framer (who would like to get bigger!)
Joe ;
I have left my "OTHER JOB" but because I no longer could preform it's requirements.
I fully understand both the reply John gave you ( despite the fact that I think while difficult it isn't impossible)and the advantages that Littleframer pointed out, while attempting to get established.
The TRUTH is only each individual can say when it's time to stop burning the candle at both ends.It is a lot better to serve one master(JOB) if that master takes care of your individual NEEDS which may not be the same as ANYONE eles's.
I, at this point, could not give up my "real" job, in as much as I day dream about the point at which I could go to the shop and produce terrific framed art work all day long, everyday. The realities are family, kids in school, mortgage, health insurance. Even with a Main Street location, next to a high end floral, gift, card merchant; I do not want employees and therefore do not keep it open every day.

That being said, I do not try to run a "full time" frame shop half way; I run a part time frame shop that based on personal attention, referals, special open houses, and use my community contacts extensively. Granted my demographics and costs are certainly different than most, I still cover my costs and then some. When would I switch to just framing? when I had a big pot of money sitting in the bank, and my kids were out of school.
I admit that that I had very few obligations other than child support, rent for my store. I lived on my sailboat, so I had slip rent, boat payment,and insurance. I had no health insurance, I had next to no money at all. I called all my creditors once a month and explained why I could not pay them, but perhaps next month.

I built my business from absolutely nothing and some really crummy equipment. I knocked on doors, called friends, dug through dumpsters for backing cardboard ( that was 1976 ).

If you have a family and a mortgage, that makes it very tough. I'm not so sure you could pull it off. For starters, you have to work seven days a week. When your not in your shop, your knocking on doors. Homes, office buildings, art galleries, gift shops.

I's a lot of work, but the rewards are well worth it. Trouble is, the rewards a years away if you are just starting.

Ahhh John your trip down memory lane is a look into my future.

I was born the year your story starts. Actually today is my birthday weeee. While I haven't started digging through trash for cardboard or started calling creditors yet I'm sure it’s right around the corner.

But the truth of the matter is, I am having the time of my life. The frustrations are more acute than they have ever been before. The joys are greater than they have ever been before. The fear is scarier then ever before.

We pay about 80% of our bills on my wife’s income. So what that means is that 20% of our bills goes unpaid for now.

Joe, you have the luxury of knowing about how much you will (at least) make where you are now. I wouldn't make that move a second before all income and outgo equals 0 without your paycheck. On the flip side I wouldn't wait a second longer than that either.

I will say that it makes no sense at all to me to keep a framing business open that doesn't make a significant amount of money. That is called a "hobby". I like hobbies and I like framing but I wouldn't put up with the headaches if it didn't pay and well.

When I hit the wall with my former business (art supplies, drafting eng. and arch. supplies, picture framing, fine writing instruments,) science and craft kits and creative and educational toys) I had offers to work for others in sales and was tempted to go the easier route and be secure financially. I opted to go back to basics and just do custom framing. It used to be about 20% of the former business, but consistently showed black ink where it was a roller coaster with the other products. The old business had at its high point, 3 stores and 33 employees.

I operate the new business as I one man operation with my kids helping when they can (or rather when they feel like it). I'm working pretty much 24/7 with a few hours sleep each night. I opened the new shop in January and turned the corner on profitability in July and take meager earnings pouring (or rather dripping) any business profits back into the business.

In the old business, I started in the frame shop with my grandfather when I was around 8 yrs. old. I fit up pictures, cut glass and mats, assembled metal frames, swept the floor and often screwed up. I was made to feel welcome so I stuck around.

Many of the tasks of custom framing I never performed myself until I opened my new venture. Having been around it all my life, I knew how to do things properly, but never performed many functions. It didn't stop me from going forward.

I learn something new and remember something old everyday. I enjoy each day ( and night)at work and don't regret my choice. It ain't easy, but it's getting less stressful everyday and I look forward to attacking the tasks each day.

Maybe the above is too much info, buthere's my advise:

1.) Use some of the time you have carefully evaluating your pricing structure to make sure you are charging appropriately for your skill level and your customer base. If you leave your present work, you'll need to depend entirely on your framing income. Make sure you are not leaving money on the table. Experiment with raising your pricing while you are still employed elsewhere.

2.) Take the plunge soon, but be prepared that your new devoted efforts may make your framing business blossom like never before and you could be overwhelmed being a one-man shop. Prepare by seeing what tasks you can outsource or line up a retired framer or apprentice to assist you on a contract basis (temp help) when overloaded before considering hiring anyone as an employee. Don't hire employees if you can help changes your life often for the worse.

3.) Analyze your entire business model for efficiency in space and operations.

4.) Take a sabatical for several days and make sure you want to apply yourself full time to framing. It may be more fun for you as a sideline hobby/job than everyday battles involved in doing it full time. Nothing wrong with part time as long as you don't promise beyond your capabilities.

5.) Continually hone your skills and knowledge. Know where to turn for help when needed.


Dave Makielski
JRB's story sounds familiar, and he's right. A lot of us started out with nothing and built our businesses on hard work and good technical skills, even while working other jobs.

It's important to understand that our industry is nothing like it was just a few years ago. Everything has changed. Now it is more difficult than ever to build a framing business from scratch. I'm not saying it can't be done; I'm only saying it's more difficult now -- and that trend will likely continue.

Some newcomers don't understand how the framing business has evolved in recent years. Those unfortunate souls are in for some ugly surprises, many of which could result in failure.

If I were starting my business today, with the knowledge and resources I had in 1988, I don't know if I could make it go. I'd want to have another $50,000 available for working capital, and better business skills. Hindsight is always 20-20.

The entrepreneural spirit is alive and well in framing. We have plenty of newcomers starting up, and expanding from home-based to storefront framing businesses. I don't mean to seem discouraging. However, the pressures of marketing, competition, consumer attitude, and business administration are a world apart from what they were in 1995.

Newcomers, as you consider the sage advice of veteran small-shop, independent framers, brace yourselves for a more difficult struggle than we had when we started.
Dave, tks for sharing your story. You were so lucky to have had the opportunity to grow up being exposed to what you seem to enjoy doing for a living. John's story always gets me. I've always been willing to work hard to achieve what I want. Don't know if I could have gone through the dumpsters though. But I guess one never knows what they'll be willing to do to live their dream until the time comes (to dive head first into that dumpster).
This thread illustrates the generous way in which
Grumblers share the wisdom of their experience and
it should be a great guide for those thinking of
setting up shop. As much as the small business is
touted in our economy, it is a difficult thing to
carry off and hardly a surprise to see how often
shops are evolving toward the second career, one
person or family type. This seems to be especially
true at the high end, where accidents can not be
tolerated. This suggests a movement toward a future in which the low end may be served by high
volume chains and the upper end will look to those
who specialize in preservation and hand craft

I started out framing part time. The time to go full time will be different for every person. If you wait for the right economy, season, time, or physiological moment, it may never happen. For some people that may be OK too. I know quite a few part time framers. I also know someone that took it the other way, he had a full time store and started opening Fri, Sat, and Sunday only. He took a job as salesman in a totally unrelated industry in the town he lives. So far, the 3 day week schedule has not seemed to hurt his business too badly. When/if the economy in North Carolina starts to flourish again, I'm sure he will be back to full time.

I agree with Dave 100% on the advise that he offered.
A lot of very good responses. Dave I checked my margins as I had planned to do (your advise built a fire under me). I found that some of my chops were being priced as length. I corrected that and adjusted my plexi price and some other things. I'll continue to look at it for awhile yet.

I started this business with the plan and dream of operating it full time in the future. I plan to stick to that plan. I do need to take a hard look at the numbers; as I will do. So, as I build my business I also build my future.
I personally know 2 frameshop managers that work second jobs. Why is that? Hmmm ... And I am thinking about it myself. It has been much easier to just work for someone else and get benefits that go with it. May not have as much freedom but doesn't sound like the store owners have much either. ( or the financial rewards associated with business ownership)
Plus.....I could never seem to dig up the money to take the cpf exam. I took it finally yesterday. Company paid for it.