Regarding today’s photo, yes, my briar supply is guarded round the clock by a ferocious giant rat! Not to mention giant monster Iris from the recent Gamera movies. In fact, my entire workshop and office are a virtual cornucopia of odd toys.
Some time back, I mentioned the database that I had built, first in Excel and then later transported to OpenOffice. I use it to track the details of our pipe business, including production, taxes, profits, hours worked, and other details of the pipemaking trade. It has proven to be very handy for learning about the business of pipemaking, and especially for such murky bits as identifying the most (and least) profitable lines, times of the year, etc.
I had initially thought about simply posting the database file for other pipemakers to use. Over the years, I have watched several talented, promising pipemakers attempt the jump into full-time pipemaking with disastrous results… sometimes through lack of talent or marketability, but more often than not simply for lack of business (and especially accounting) experience. When you’re not really sure if you’re making money or not, you can’t be sure of anything, and it’s entirely too easy to fall into the trap where you feel like you’re working all the time, every day, and never getting ahead. It sucks all the fun out of the work fast, so strange as it sounds, good accounting really does inject more fun into the pipemaking job rather than being a detraction as most might think. I know that providing this sort of “pipemaker’s accounting tool” will take up a fair bit of my time, but I’m willing to sacrifice it if it will, in future, maybe possibly help keep some other artistic-yet-financially-challenged pipemaker from going bust.
However, in debating whether I wanted to get into this, I gave it a lot of thought. In the end, rather than simply providing a blank, ready-to-use database file with formulas in place, I’ve opted to post a series of threads on the Pipemakers’ Forums explaining how to build such a file yourself. This was done for two reasons – the inevitability of the need for the file to be individually customized based on country, local tax laws, etc, and also for sheer self defense. While I am happy if I can genuinely help someone, experience has also taught me to be very leery of free handouts because they bring out the worst in people. Simply posting a blank file would almost certainly doom me to YEARS of the same emails over and over again, all from people who’ve downloaded the file on a whim and can’t figure out how to use it, and most with little regard for my working time…. and, of course, you also get those people who actually rant or gripe at you for providing them a free thing, because they can’t understand how to use it.
Instead, I’ve opted for a series of threads that I’ll post which will show JPG screen caps of the different pages of my own database file, along with detailed instructions of what the various fields are, which formulas to enter where, and so on. It will require a lot of work and time for a pipemaker to build his own file, but then, it took me a longer time to build this one from scratch, and my hope is that making them build it themselves will handily winnow the field of interested parties quickly from, “Sure, yeah, I’ll take a copy of that! Huh? How does this work?” down to the tiny handful of serious full-timers and hope-to-be full-timers who are really willing to learn. It’s pipe bookkeeping via the philosophy of, “Give a man a match and he will be warm for a moment. Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.”
So, for those who are interested in the world of actually making a livable living from pipemaking, check out these threads on the forum:
I will gradually post more screen caps and instructions for the rest of the pages in the database over the coming weeks/months (?) based on how much free time I have, if any. I won’t be touching on this any more in the blog, however, because I don’t want to send readers away screaming like schoolgirls. Anyone who wants to follow the instructional posts will need to look for them on the forum as they appear.