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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by dalmatiangirl61 View Post
    If you can't afford to buy a warehouse, keep working out of your garage till you can.

    Good luck! Better be a damn good widget!
    This is great advise. A business mentor of mine started his company and bought a warehouse. He split the warehouse up into 3 portions. 1 portion housed his business, the other two were leased. One paid the mortgage, the other paid for maintenance/improvements.

    A friend of mine has a tool & die shop and he pays something like $980 a month rent. His utilities are crazy high. Heat from the old gas furnace is expensive. Ancient air conditioning unit died and the landlord won’t fix it. Told him if he wants air, it’s his responsibility. Lights are old terrible and expensive.

    When he started his business he had quotes for a steel building was going to cost him close to $100k. He couldn’t make a decision and wound up renting. 8 years and $94k later he’s still there. Instead he could have been working in a nice new shop with good lighting and air conditioning.

    His electric bill is $250+ a month. Mine is usually $80-$100.
    His rent is $980 a month. Mine is zero.
    His gas bill can reach $300/mo. I steal my gas from my house, which it’s bill can hit $100/mo.

    The only reason I can do what I do is because of low overhead. I worked out of a tiny 2 car garage until my business demanded more.

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    Also if you don't have a significant other and a family do not seek one out at this time, you will need to dedicate all available time for the start up. Also if you are someone who needs 10 hours sleep a day and thinks a work week is 40 hours your dream probably isn't for you.

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    I am going to have to echo the "don't pay rent" crowd. I did it to get started. Had to, no other way.
    But, priority #1 was always to get away from paying rent. It took me 4 years.
    If I was still paying rent in my current situation? I would be at minimum out of business with bad credit, by now. Possibly way worse?

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    From what I've experienced, if you have one product that's an assembly of a few parts, and you have little to no machining experience, you don't stand a chance in hell making it in house successfully unless you already have a shop set up, and even then it's dicey.

    How can you compete with production-hardened job shops that do this shit every single day?

    Make a (GOOD) drawing package, send it out for quotes, and concentrate on marketing and sales. If you make enough money you can seriously consider hiring a manufacturing team and buying machines but you have to remember that those job shops have a shit ton of money and time invested in perfecting what they do, and I think you'll find it extremely hard to compete.

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    How to succeed with a business/product is a whole different subject than how to run a machine shop. unbundle the two, do a SWOT on each (oooops used a buzzword, strengths weakness opportunities and threats analysis) and start from there. Figure out what it makes sense to concentrate on first (seems kind of obvious to me, the widget)

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    +20 replies in under 24 hours?!?! And most of these ARE gold!

    All of the feedback I've received is definitely something I'm going use going forward.

    My product is a new type of '2-in-1' gun sight for pistols. I'm a completely novice shooter and the results of pass/fail product range test got me all 10 shots 'on target' with 3 of them directly in the bulls eyes, using my .45 at full range (25 yards).
    The real kicker here is that this test took place 3 years after I had stopped going to the range entirely so I could chase this product and my lifetime handgun experience prior to this was about 3 or 4 months long in total. Serious novice.
    This thing actually works.

    I have 2 issued patents (in near record time) after a former editor of GUNS magazine gave a written testimonial to the USPTO that the sights are both novel and unique. Because of his help I was able to get more claims than what I had originally set out for. And, I mean, this guy has seen everything.

    I have a ton of stories regarding the informal surveys that have been taken and 100% of them have been beyond our best case expectations.
    This fact is actually what's been slowing me down. (Talk is one thing parting with your money is another.)

    At this time, I'm now officially all in. My entire 401k has been invested into this new business using the federal ROBS program. Here you set up a C-corp, create a 401k plan for it, and can roll in 100% of your personal 401k penalty and tax free. But there are a few restrictions some of which include the fact that every hire needs an opportunity to invest in the business (they can decline) and I can't use the funds for things like personal payroll or real estate. Which, for now, takes out the idea of owning my own shop instead of renting. (Genius idea btw.)

    With funds now in my new corp, I've bought an older VMC and plan to pump up the work that I've been doing on a hobby-mill all this time: a 98 Mori Seiki CV500a.
    Not exactly top of the line equipment anymore but still a decent machine with a decent name at a decent price. It was previously used in a Swiss-mill shop so, I hope, that gives nod to it's precision capabilities.

    I'll climb down from my soapbox now and respectfully make a few comments:

    " ...you haven't actually sold any yet? ... run a business before? Sales, accounting, supply chain,..."
    No on all accounts.

    "...where are you at?"
    San Diego but the plan is to product launch from here, gauge the uptake, and then expand elsewhere. Likely NV but I'd happily push for WY. My wife, not so much.


    " Only Buy what you can pay Cash for."

    Sage advise.

    " What is the plan if the one product stops selling?"
    A version needs to be created for every different make and model of firearm. That's a lot but I already have some next gen complexities that I want to introduce which should help to extend the product timeline. However, if the core product stopped selling early then I'd love to change from production facility to job shop. There's few things better than looking at something and saying to yourself "I can make that." And when conversations about 'engagement angle' excite you . . . you may have found your calling. (And too late it was.)

    " Only buy the material you need and only get the tools you'll need. . . . and keep overhead low. . ."
    This point struck home. I'm that guy that gets many extra cutters and they sit longer than they work. I'll keep this in mind.

    " Partner with someone with commercial experience."
    Interesting. I have no distributor plans as there are few retail outlets where you buy gun sights off the shelf. It's more of a catalog or online order item which may one day interest entities like Brownell's. But perhaps this is something I should really take a deeper dive into.

    " Debt makes sense when you need it to scale the business."
    That's the plan. Hand to mouth operating in Cali, to prove the market, and then take on debt heading somewhere a bit more business friendly.

    " Don't quit your day job until/unless your business takes off."
    Laid off. That really was the best day I had there in almost 15 years.

    " ...envisioned lots of free time, while still raking in the bucks... first thing I would do is buy a warehouse..."
    No pipe dreams here (except that one where Scrooge McDuck has my face on his body as he swims in a vault of money). And my ROBS restrictions prevent me from using those funds for real estate though I could do it later with business profits (knock on wood).

    " ....if you don't have a significant other and a family do not seek one out at this time,..."
    Wife and toddler twins. That's why my preferred choice of facilities is less than 10 minutes from home (and right by a few of the vendors I'll need).

    Sorry this was so long but the feedback and input from all of you - that doesn't involve California water restrictions 🙂 - is exactly what I want/need to hear.

    I also have plans to showcase my sights to various branches of the military public/private outreach programs. The Air Force officers at the SBIR road tour stop in SD seemed impressed (one guy lost his mind).

    Any suggestions for who/where I could approach for military connections?

    Thanks again,
    Bones

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    Quote Originally Posted by isaac338 View Post
    From what I've experienced, if you have one product that's an assembly of a few parts, and you have little to no machining experience, you don't stand a chance in hell making it in house successfully unless you already have a shop set up, and even then it's dicey.

    How can you compete with production-hardened job shops that do this shit every single day?

    Make a (GOOD) drawing package, send it out for quotes, and concentrate on marketing and sales. If you make enough money you can seriously consider hiring a manufacturing team and buying machines but you have to remember that those job shops have a shit ton of money and time invested in perfecting what they do, and I think you'll find it extremely hard to compete.
    Ehh, bullshit. Low overhead. That is how you compete. You just don't dare go to market before you have honed your process.
    Thousands of guys on instagram doing just fine "competing with production-hardened job shops".
    It isn't a matter of if you can or cant do it (you can). It is a matter of can or cant you work that hard (want it that bad).
    My biggest wish in business is to wake up one morning with the magic idea!
    I have the shop, and the work ethic. That is the EASY part! The idea, that is the hard part.
    No different than a job-shop finding work. Everything else is easy. Getting work, that is the real challenge.

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  13. #28
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    What's in your shop?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones288 View Post
    Hello,

    I need some input/advice from those with experience in establishing, running, and maintaining their own shop.

    History: I have spent ~6yrs evolving and perfecting a product that I think the world is ready to see....
    I would ask how broad of market you anticipate .

    I ask that as a really good ideal with high potential sales numbers will be cloned off shore and appear everywhere at low cost about two months after yours hits the shelves.
    A specially small market item might sneak by but can you make a living and pay overhead off that product?

    It hasn’t happened to me so I just hear the stories.
    This sound about right guys?

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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelieking71 View Post
    Ehh, bullshit. Low overhead. That is how you compete. You just don't dare go to market before you have honed your process.
    Thousands of guys on instagram doing just fine "competing with production-hardened job shops".
    It isn't a matter of if you can or cant do it (you can). It is a matter of can or cant you work that hard (want it that bad).
    My biggest wish in business is to wake up one morning with the magic idea!
    I have the shop, and the work ethic. That is the EASY part! The idea, that is the hard part.
    No different than a job-shop finding work. Everything else is easy. Getting work, that is the real challenge.

    I don't understand this whole thing. I won't say what "we" make where I work, but we can't keep up! We can't get good help, it goes on and on. And it is really a low stress laid back job (I know! ) I program 3 axis (a little 4th axis stuff) and wedm stuff and it just runs and runs. In the process of re-programming some old stuff that is not efficient... I run adn setup machines when I am caught up with programming (great AWESOME set up for me )


    I honestly feel bad for you job shop guys struggling. Hope it all pulls together for you.

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    Ive done this on and off for 60 years......my advice is to first insulate your assets from any enterprise........or have nothing,which is the strategy of many small businees owners.....works ok when you are young,begins to suck when your bones get stiff,and you get tired......Second is to move out into the sticks ...way out...you will need a hundred acres min,to get your operation away from neighbours........This way you should avoid crazy regulation and property taxes.Call it a "farm enrerprise" and claim a connection with ag...this often exempts you from property and enviro taxes.

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    Buying property is great advice......Im rich on paper solely due to land I bought years ago.........rubbish land at the time,but population growth makes rubbish land in poor areas into millions eventually........or is it just inflation..............But,be able to pay for that land ,dont rely on rental income ,which can stop dead in a down cycle...........are you lucky?...industrial landlords have many horror stories of tennants demolishing their sheds......but main risk is non payment of rent,which generally snowballs if your tennants are large enough to get bankruptcy protection.Then you be dealing with greedy lawyers.

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    What is your production cost per unit? Could you send out a bunch of free units to "influencers"? If they like it they would probably charge a fee or a cut from a discount code to rep it.

    You'll need an advertising budget just to get the word out there. Once the word is out you need to have online purchasing set up. We have been conditioned to buy it now or never.

    There is money to be made in the firearm industry. I'm just glad you're not making 80% lowers like every other person on earth.

    Good luck.

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    Having spent my bit of time match pistol shooting with I don’t believe what I am hearing.
    Sight picture from any gun sight on a pistol is one small part of marksmanship.
    A person can literally group well with their eyes closed if you master the other requirements.
    You can’t group well in their absence period- no new sight is going to change that.
    You can no doubt sell anything to a novice who is trying to buy their way into higher scores so you will no doubt sell a few.
    Revolutionary new sight?
    The sight is not important enough to matter and your market will be limited to those who don’t know that.

    Competency with a pistol is derived from:

    One- hold area (the marksman's condition and stance which define that area the muzzle covers during that time required to release the shot).

    Two- trigger control so the release of shot is not carried outside of hold area by movement of the firearm.

    Three- maintenance of sight picture so hold area is centered as nearly as possible on target.

    In the absence of the first two you can’t land shots on target- it does not matter a wit how enhanced the sight system is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trboatworks View Post
    Having spent my bit of time match pistol shooting with I don’t believe what I am hearing.
    When I actively shot 3-gun, we used to regularly drill with our eyes closed. The custom 1911 I built to compete with still comes up on target without looking at the sights.

    When I did combat pistol training, we would draw, present, and have our magazine empty by the time we had the pistol fully raised and in position, reload, and advance or retreat as instructed.

    Instructor even had a pistol with no sights that he made several students practice with that were "TOO" tied up trying to get the sights lined up perfect.

    A fair amount of my business is the firearms industry. It is hard competition. Lots of guys with Haas's in their garages making good quality products for stupid cheap prices. On the opposite end of the spectrum, are the lights out, fully automated, AR manufacturing facilities. If you find the appropriate niche you will do well, but you certainly will not get rich.

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    My real question is if this is such a whiz-bang idea, how come you haven't been able to sell any? It sounds to me like you waited a few years too long to do some reading on minimum viable product. Interest means nothing, you need to gauge people's real willingness to buy the product, find your sales channels and then iterate. That should have been done with a provisional patent filed, not after getting the patent, for that matter. All that patent has gotten you is the requirement that you better be pushing into the market really quick to get the cash flow required to sustain the legal effort of enforcing your patent.

    Long story short, do not take on any debt until this project has shown positive cash flow. I have a feeling you're going to regret paying for those patents at this rate.

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    I had it quoted out at a capable production facility and they got back to me with ~$100/assembly. After finishing, QC, assembly, packaging, distribution, customer services, and taxes - could I make money? I think I could. It would be tight but not unreasonable for a startup product. The problem for me is that this would swallow all of my funds from the start and if I've miscalculated something or if things don't go perfectly then I'm SOL. I know that I can make them for less and without the 4 to 6 week turn around. If I attempt to make them myself then I have some fallback options and some dry powder (funds) in reserve.

    (And yeah. Lowers is what ppl first assume when I talk about this.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trboatworks View Post
    Having spent my bit of time match pistol shooting with I don’t believe what I am hearing.
    Sight picture from any gun sight on a pistol is one small part of marksmanship.
    A person can literally group well with their eyes closed if you master the other requirements.
    You can’t group well in their absence period- no new sight is going to change that.
    You can no doubt sell anything to a novice who is trying to buy their way into higher scores so you will no doubt sell a few.
    Revolutionary new sight?
    The sight is not important enough to matter and your market will be limited to those who don’t know that.

    Competency with a pistol is derived from:

    One- hold area (the marksman's condition and stance which define that area the muzzle covers during that time required to release the shot).

    Two- trigger control so the release of shot is not carried outside of hold area by movement of the firearm.

    Three- maintenance of sight picture so hold area is centered as nearly as possible on target.

    In the absence of the first two you can’t land shots on target- it does not matter a wit how enhanced the sight system is.

    I'm going to agree with you completely (esp. 2 and 3). I've heard the expression 'look at your sights - not at the target' but it made no sense to me until I made my sights. Now I get it. These sights FORCE you to concentrate on them and to carefully control the trigger until the shot is taken. You literally can't look at the target once you begin the sequence.

    (But just to be clear, I've never claimed 'Revolutionary new sight?' as that would be pompous of me. I try to hide that.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pariel View Post
    My real question is if this is such a whiz-bang idea, how come you haven't been able to sell any? It sounds to me like you waited a few years too long to do some reading on minimum viable product. Interest means nothing, you need to gauge people's real willingness to buy the product, find your sales channels and then iterate. That should have been done with a provisional patent filed, not after getting the patent, for that matter. All that patent has gotten you is the requirement that you better be pushing into the market really quick to get the cash flow required to sustain the legal effort of enforcing your patent.

    Long story short, do not take on any debt until this project has shown positive cash flow. I have a feeling you're going to regret paying for those patents at this rate.
    Couple of notes:
    -You have to offer it for sale in order for ppl to buy it.
    -And MVP works great in the world of apps and sw where upgrades and fixes can happen autonomously and no one expects a perfect beta. But a real physical product had better be right the first time because no one is going to buy it a second time if it didn't work the first.
    -Also, the time limit for a provisional would have long run out before I got to this point.

    I can't say that you will be wrong about my regretting the patents but I hope that's the case.

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    Very good- I will be interested to see your ideal.
    Don’t discount #1.
    Hold area is where the shots land (hopefully).

    Pistol shooting takes work to master.
    I throw in another phrase you didn’t use..
    There is no ‘magic bullet’.

    Plain irons rapid fire at 25 yards:

    ceb1825a-5ee2-4a98-9ce9-0958358f9c72.jpg

    Believe me the sights are not holding me back.
    The four on bull cover with a dime and the one thrown to 2:00 is a typical flinch for me till I settle down to rest of string.

    This thread reminds me- I have to send off club membership dues.
    I have been far too busy to get to range..

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