How was 2018, what's coming in 2019?
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  1. #1
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    Default How was 2018, what's coming in 2019?

    I've been working on some end of the year tax filings and looking over my sales for 2018.

    This was the worst year I've had since going full time in my shop. My sales were actually lower than my first year, though I spent much less on materials, so I have a bit more to show for it. It was a bad year by every metric: sales, profits, number of customers, number of invoices, expenses, etc.

    Normally mid December to Mid February are very slow. So far it's dead here. I've written one invoice since Thanksgiving. Luckily, it was pretty big one. I've been selling some of my equipment to make up the difference, but that has been pretty unsuccessful as well.

    I'm not entirely sure what the cause is, but mostly it's me I think. When I started, I was warned about the "5 year curve". I think I have hit it hard, I'm headed into year 6 of self employment. I bought some expensive equipment that I really had no work for (rollback truck, some manual machine tools, etc) with the expectation that I could pull my business in a slightly different direction. So far those effort have been entirely unsuccessful.

    Also, my son is now 2 years old, and quite a lot of fun. I was also warned when I had a kid that "things are going to change". I knew they would, but it was impossible for me to understand exactly how, or to really do anything about it even if I did understand it. The biggest thing is just time. If you are self employed, you know that the only way you can really make any money is to work a lot of hours. That's tough to do with a growing family. I should have expected that.

    Additionally, I'm not, nor have I ever been, really sold on this "recovery". It seems to me that it's been a recovery for big guys in big cities and the little guys out in the sticks have been pretty well left out. Other small business I talk to are generally struggling.


    Anyway, that's probably enough whining. What are others seeing?

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  3. #2
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    Never been so busy.

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    Looking great, but that is only because I am releasing my own new products.

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    2018 was very busy for me, 2019 is starting with a little slack- my order book is good for the next 30 days and then it drops way down.

    I'm expecting a relatively slow first quarter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidScott View Post
    Looking great, but that is only because I am releasing my own new products.
    And there are?

    Tom

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    2018 was great for me, but I've been in business for 34 years with a really well established customer base. All my customers are busy also.

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  11. #7
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    Absolutely swamped with orders so far in 2019. As far as last year is concerned we crushed it with our 3rd best year ever and we've been in business since 1951.

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    worst year since 2009, surprised were still here.

    can only get better from here

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    We do mostly mold work and it hasn't been this good since the late '90s. 2019 is starting out the same way. Good luck with the slow times and hopefully you can ride it out.

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    2018 was my first full year in business. I never imagined the company would grow so fast. I can barely keep up with orders and just bought a CNC mill to add to the product line.

    Making my own products has been very successful. Once I decided to get the mill and talked with the vendors I know, I'm very glad I didn't go into job shop type work or I'd be beyond starving right now. Even with promises of good work I can't even get a drawing from guys I've known a long time and have been talking with for months.

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    "swamped with orders" to me indicates a CNC shop with a bazillion little aluminum things being spit out. A manual shop or a repair machinist is a whole different enchilada. I do 'one off' machine builds and some repair so I could never classify myself "swamped with orders"...at 72 years old,just the way I like it.

    Stuart

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    2018 was my sixth, and best year, in business for myself.
    2019 is starting off very bad. I am genuinely scared.

    There is some potential stuff on the horizon that may solidify. But, as of today, I am generally fuxored.
    For at least the first quarter anyways. I am trying to change this. But, as we all know, this is the hardest part! Getting work.
    I have been historically lucky in that it has always found me. Right now I have boots on pavement. And, so far, not much luck.


    LOL, as I was typing this response, an RFQ rolled in from an existing customer.
    But, I just looked at the solid model. It's 50pcs, of a $20 part. $1000 before expenses, doesn't go very far.

  20. #13
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    I have not been in business a full calendar year yet, but so far so good. I have more work than I have time for at the moment. It's probably too early in my business life to be of any use as far as projections go, but I have a lot of work at the moment.

    I do mostly repair and one-off stuff, FWIW.

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    I had a response written and upon reading it thought better of it for not wanting to sound the braggart. No one likes to hear that when they're down.

    We're doing well. I wish everyone were. We've been incredibly lucky and blessed.
    Savings would be good. Time off and a vacation ( gasp ) would be AWESOME, but all in all, I can't complain.


    And then there's days like today... Ma! Get my shotgun...

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  23. #15
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    Brag on!

    I wanted to make sure it was just me.

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    Here in the uk doing what i do has been paying of great, but im unquestionably running on the Brexit uncertainty and the low value pound. With out those i honestly have no idea what this would be like right now. normally January, especially this early is pretty dead. I currently have work well into February and more than enough work to pay the bills for the next 4 months or so.

    Currently right now its a rush to get things done, there's a real sense of uncertainty post Brexit here that may well mean far tougher times ahead. Lots of my current orders are for the EU area, hence delivery has to be pre 29th march and by my standards most of its not too hard, but its all complex slow fiddly stuff. My stuff sells globally and according to my dealers there all saying its going well globally there just feeling a eu based rush to beat the Brexit deadlines uncertainty. Even if the so called deal goes through we will effectifly still trade VAT free for the next 2 years any rate.

    More than a few people i know in different sectors are busy too, but theirs a feeling of unease - a real sense of a emanate crash even though theirs no real solid problem - crash as yet.

    My advice, you want to distance your self from your competition, loads of people make parts that are turned, ground or milled, fewer make parts with all thoes operations, even fewer in house can do all that and weld. In my case, i will do a very wide range of operations and that makes it pretty hard for most others to compete with me. its not so much about being the best, but being good enough and doing it cheap enough and fast enough the competition that has to farm out there tube bending or there powder coating can not compete.

    Other thing i find is you kinda have to let business guide your direction a bit, you can't so much chose your work area as you can kinda steer it. You need to look at what you have been doing then look at the gaps beyond that and try and fill those, going in a totally new direction is kinda not generally a good idea at the 5 year mark because it almost takes you back to starting over. By that point you should have a vague idea what you do and what your good at, then you need to identify areas that stretch that with your current customers and try extending into thoes.

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  27. #17
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    We hit 7 years of being open in June 2018. This was our busiest year yet and it hasn't slowed down. However the profitability wasn't there. We lost two key guys. Tried everything to keep them but in the end one just really wanted new scenery and the other moved to be closer to his girlfriend(now fiance). It looks like we're back on the upswing from losing the two guys(hopefully we can find one more). 2019 is looking to be interesting but it's still early.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AARONT View Post
    Tried everything to keep them but in the end one just really wanted new scenery and the other moved to be closer to his girlfriend(now fiance).
    Thanks for that, by the by! We're pretty satisfied with him. Glad to hear that you are doing well, too!

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  30. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by adama View Post
    Other thing i find is you kinda have to let business guide your direction a bit, you can't so much chose your work area as you can kinda steer it. You need to look at what you have been doing then look at the gaps beyond that and try and fill those, going in a totally new direction is kinda not generally a good idea at the 5 year mark because it almost takes you back to starting over. By that point you should have a vague idea what you do and what your good at, then you need to identify areas that stretch that with your current customers and try extending into thoes.
    FWIW, I know it's not a good idea, and not what is considered normal. I don't really care.

    I'd rather do what I want to do and make $0 than plod along doing something I don't find interesting.

    I'm sure you will have more to show for your efforts in the end. That also doesn't bother me.

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  32. #20
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    Best year ever and most of it thanks to the US economy doing so well the last 2 years and buying so much, 2 record years in a row and wouldn't mind another 2, or 6...
    Big thank you to those of you who made this happen! Gotta love that magic wand eh.
    Now I'll just keep hoping Canadians make the right choice in October and boot out the sock puppet that has crippled us the last 3 years.


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