When I went looking for an apprenticeship
It was a long time ago when I started looking for an apprenticeship, but I haven't forgotten how exhausting it was for me. It took about four years from the time I first started looking. I remember taking my resume to machine shops, and being asked if I could read vernier calipers and micrometers. I think I lied and said I had, but I definitely did't understand how to read the graduations quickly.
I was also asked if I was willing to work long hours for little pay, and it got me thinking 'who are these people?'. I thought the whole point of having a trade was to have good work and pay people well. Maybe they were just in a growth stage the same as we are right now.
I think about our growth strategy a lot, the best thing I've come up with to date is to find people who are committed to taking a calculated risk in order to create a better way of life. By adopting a worker co-operative model we could exchange sweat-equity for a stake in the ownership, plus a share of any future surplus, as well as a say in the decision making.
Structuring something in this way is something I've been exploring for over five years now. It's more than just a growth strategy, it's a succession plan.
By having a framework to plug into, we set ourselves up for success. I find that I'm more productive in my work if I'm part of a team that is depending on me. If I go to a job when I'm having a bad day, I might not be productive, but I don't leave my task.
When I first started working on my own, I would take a lot of breaks. Breaks for snacks, reading a book, getting the mail, visiting a neighbor, stoking the fire, then naps... It was a wonder anything was ever completed.
Maybe it wasn't that bad, overhead was low, so I didn't need to invoice many hours. I know that time could have been more productive if I had more people providing guidance. At this point, there's a few people I can rely on for technical guidance, a few more for business guidance, a few more for conflict resolution...
On the other end, having people come to the shop to work helps motivate me to arrive earlier, to plan my time more effectively. It's really great to see how everything is coming together. It's such a joyful experience to see people sharing what they're learning with one another. It's impossible to not get caught up in it, what more can I say?