Marines veteran turns his craft into a small business

October 31, 2019

Josh Crandal is a Marine Corps veteran who runs a small business doing what he loves: building beautiful, one-of-a-kind cabinets. Doing so was once just a side hustle, but now it’s a successful small business that employs five people and supports his family.

Owning a small business is in his DNA

Josh opened Elite Cabinets and Design in 2016. But his journey to becoming a small business owner was anything but simple.

After meeting his wife in the Marines, the couple moved back to Josh’s home state of Utah, but eventually settled in New Jersey.

Josh moved around a lot as a child, but the one place he always felt at home was in the wood shop. He describes spending all his spare time in his high school’s shop, hanging out with his teacher and working on different projects. Back then he knew two things: He had a talent for wood working and he would someday run his own business.

See Josh in action in our exclusive video

A side hustle starts with a dream

Josh spent ten years working for someone else as a skilled craftsman. However, there was something missing in his professional life. “I watched my employer interact with the client. I was always envious of that client-employer interaction.”

Josh knew he possessed those business skills as well, and he wasn’t wrong. He started branching out from his full-time job when he got a one-off project that paid well.

That’s when Josh’s side hustle was born.

He began taking on more freelance projects to build custom wood pieces and the customers started lining up.

Juggling a full-time job and a side hustle was always a balancing act, but soon, Josh realized that keeping his day job was actually costing him money. “It got to the point where I started telling customers, ‘I just can't do your job for you.’ I realized if I’m going to be an employer, I need to make an executive decision. I was now turning away way more than I was ever making as an employee.” 

The struggle Josh faced is common among those who work a side hustle while employed at a full-time job. The 2019 Hiscox Side Hustle to Small Business Study ™ found that entrepreneurs spend on average twenty hours a week on their side hustle while still employed full time.

Transforming a side hustle requires hard work and commitment

When he built up the courage to tell his boss that he was leaving, Josh described feeling instantly relieved because he could now focus solely on running his side gig, which he soon transformed into a small business.

Today, Elite Cabinets and Design crafts custom cabinets for kitchens and bathrooms, as well as wall units, coffee and dining tables, and just about anything made of wood.

On-going challenges of running a small business

Some of Josh’s biggest challenges were related to marketing mistakes and balancing work with family life.

In the beginning, Josh was contacted by multiple companies about purchasing their marketing services. He spent a lot of money with them, but was disappointed with the results. For the time being, Josh showcases his work on Instagram and occasionally posts about his kids to remind his audience that Elite Cabinets and Design is a family operated, local business.

Many entrepreneurs like Josh have to learn new skills to market and manage their business. The 2019 Hiscox Side Hustle to Small Business study™ includes tips on how to do this.

To learn more about Josh Crandal’s journey from employee to entrepreneur, listen to his episode on the Hiscox Side Hustle to Small Business podcast.