Donnie Gallie, founder of Designs By Donnie, is a custom furniture builder in the Florida panhandle. He’s been in business for about five years now. Although from all appearances his business is an overnight success, his story is otherwise.
He comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, and his grandfather taught him art and the value of old wood from an early age.
He tried many different businesses over the years, and many of them failed or ended in heartache. It wasn’t until recently, with the help and encouragement of his wife, that he found his true passion.
He got his start in his own garage with some 2x4s and a circular saw. But the coffee table that came out when he was finished sold within 30 minutes on Facebook. His wife knew that he has a gift when combining art with woodworking, and she encouraged him to go for it.
He bought an old table at a nearby yard sale and took it apart just see how it was built. He bought a few books at Home Depot to learn as much as he could about wood and joinery.
Eventually, while doing some online research, he realized that most of the furniture out there was similar in style. And no one was offering large, beefy, old wood style furniture.
His artistic intuition told him that he was on to something here. So, he started designing and building furniture using big reclaimed lumber.
He went door-to-door and talked with interior designers who worked in the high end neighbor hoods, and told them what he was doing. Even though he was met with many a “No,” answer, he was persistent. Over the years he would go back with more pictures of his completed work, and eventually more and more of these interior designers would hire him.
There were some really hard times they went through financially in the early days. They had houses and cars reclaimed. And even sent their kids to school with rice and beans. One year for Thanksgiving a friend gave them a turkey because they couldn’t afford their own.
Although money was extremely tight, and he wanted to quit many times, Donnie hung in there. His wife encouraged him, and he kept going. Eventually they made it through, and now his business has really taken off.
Donnie’s encouragement to any entrepreneur who is going through something similar right now, is that success is right on the other side of quitting or failure. Don’t quit. Don’t give up.
And his favorite word of advice is: “You Got This!”
It is of utmost importance that you focus on building a brand. Donnie stresses this fact over and over.
Here are a few tips on how to build a brand:
- Find your voice
- Set yourself apart from the competitors
- Do some research and determine what the market is lacking or needing
- Find a void and offer a solution
- Start in your local area and gain a good reputation
- Meet face to face and build relationships with key people in your community
- Use the Internet to expand further what you’ve started locally
Test the market because what you think people want, may actually be different from what they really do want.
Once you’ve established your brand, here are a few tips to take it to the next level:
- Create perceived value
- Create an experience
- Create buzz and excitement among your ideal customers
- Get people to talk about it with their friends and followers
Your presentation factor is SO huge!
Spend time thinking how you could create a “Wow” experience when delivering and making a presentation of your final product to your customer.
A couple words of advice that Donnie has learned over the years is:
- Never ask family members for advice when you are seeking to start a business
- Never have your feet in concrete when comes to your systems, procedures, and processes. Always be learning and improving as you go.
Donnie loves the books written by David Bach. He recommends any book that David Bach wrote about finances. They are easy to read and very helpful.
Donnie’s word of advice for any contractor who is just getting started is:
- Find your voice
- You’ve got this
- Never give up!
This was an awesome conversation! Listen all the way through and be inspired!
Shout out to a great contractor using our Protractor Website Platform! They are beautifying New Jersey one flower bed at a time! Check out their awesome website, and follow them on social media. Great company!
Today’s Protractor Tip is given today by Jackson Andrews from Jackson Andrews Building and Design and it’s all about taking ownership and being a leader. Definitely worth a listen! Follow him @jacksonandrewsbuilding
The book we recommend today can be found in our contractor Resources page on our website (see bio) The title is [Your Best Year Ever] by Michael Hyatt. It’s an excellent book, and it will help you plan for your best year ever.
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