Earning While You are Learning


You are not yet what you are going to be. You are an upholsterer in training.

When you start to learn a new trade cash flow is key. Many people don't have money enough to just stop working and learn upholstery. Many people may need to support themselves (doing upholstery) while they are learning. I've been there myself. Many years ago, when I started working with my dad (and the others in my family) in the upholstery business we worked for poor people, who could afford much and didn't expect much, (who were just glad to have a new cover to replace the old worn-out tattered cover. We worked cheap, gave credit (got enough of a down payment to cover the expenses, and gambled on the rest.) (and to be sure, some people didn't pay, oh well.). Since there were all four/five of us working we were able to survive, to learn, and to grow the business.
During the process there are many ways to become motivated to learn better upholstery methods. As an example, over the years (as some of the client's complained to me when the job wasn't right). I didn't like to be fussed as, so I learned to do better ways.

There are very few upholstery schools or upholstery training available, and those that are available tend to be costly. In addition, upholsterers generally don't like to train other upholsterers because they would be training their competion. So, that leaves many would-be upholsterers to learn on there own, kind of an on-the-job training. And, let's face the truth. A beginning or amateur upholsterer does sloppy work. That is only to be expected, and that is OK as long as the client knows what to expect. No matter what your skill level, just always do your best. Keep trying to do better and to keep learning.

I believe that there are clients suited to each level upholsterer. For example, there are some client who haven't been trained or don't have the life experiences to be able to see one quality of furniture as compared to another. They don't care about having high quality furniture. They just want their furniture recovered in something different. In many of these cases, price will be the determining factor. Very few clients will be OK about paying the same price as having a professional upholsterer do their work. You should price your work according to your skill level. You don't need to say "I'm an amatuer and do sloppy work". Rather, you could say something like this. I'm at the beginning level, Or amatuer, Or an upholsterer in training (or however you can honestly phrase it. Then, along with that, have lots of pictures and samples of your work. Then you can feel competent that people are getting what they are paying for.

 The important thing is that you just be open to what your level of skill is at. I would suggest that you say that you are an upholsterer in training. In addition, have lots of pictures of your work posted all around so that your clients can see them.
One main issue that could pop up is if a beginning upholsterer (who doesn't yet have the skill) would pretend to the client that he is highly skilled. That could spell disaster for both the upholsterer and the client. But if the upholsterer is honest about his skill level and has finished work and/or pictures showing, that would minimize much of any problems.

I went through a similar feeling of insecurity when I first started making slipcovers, which hang differently than upholstery. But, once I started posting pictures of my slipcovers I gradually relaxed and stopped fretting as much. The beauty of having lots of pictures for your client to see is that it shows the clients what your skill level is. If a very picky client comes in and sees your pictures, she will respond according to what is important to her.

It takes some years before an upholsterer becomes proficient at his/her work. You are at the level where you are supposed to be. You will get better with time and practice.

I would suggest that, even as a beginning upholsterer that you take lots of pictures of your work all the way through the upholstery process. This has a couple of benefits.
1. It shows the clients exactly what to expect when you do the work for them.
2. Knowing that you will take pictures as you go along motivates you to do better than you may otherwise do. It is much liking having the client right there watching everything you do. I've noticed that it has motivated me to my best at all times. Many the time has been that I've thought about the pictures and that has made me to my best.

One of the most important things to learn is to always be truthful and honest in everything that you do. Deal fairly with the clients, and be honest about what you are, and aren't, able to. For example, if you promise high quality work, and aren't able to produce, it will come back and bite you.

Figure out what your strengths are and build on that. What do you do well? What do you like to do?

Advertise Your business

I can't stress this point strongly enough. No matter what your skill level it helps to advertise your service or business. See some articles on advertising by clicking here. I also strongly recommend that you get your own website. See article by clicking here.