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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    ........ but the last guy I worked for that ran his own shop (small, 10 or so people) seemed to be raking it in! (again, bout 10+ yearfs ago..) Several nice vehicles (dodge viper, hummer, plymouth prowler, harley, delorian (?) (YES!, back to the future car )
    You have a very twisted and distorted view of what it means to be successful and happy as a machine shop owner.
    If only that time machine worked and allowed you to go back and hit yourself up the side of the head with a 2x4.
    Bob

  2. #22
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    Contrary to some who have chimed in, I think it’s very important to track your time on jobs. Keep a time card and note setup times for different parts and different jobs. Write down run times. Figure out how much labor/machine time you have in each part. This is the basis for determining if you are making money or losing money on a part. Take the time to figure out what it actually costs you per hour to keep the lights on. If you don’t know your costs, you run the risk of cutting your own throat

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    I don't understand how you guys do it.

    I realize working "for the man" has alot of negatives, but to own my own place, for the sake of working for myself, to pay myself shit, eh...
    I guess the hope is one day you'll hit it big?....
    ANywho, not knocking anyone, you guys are far braver than me!!!!
    The last relevant study I read concluded that self employed folks, on average, cleared about 70% what an employed person does. I believe it and understand why having jobs suits some people (some of my best friends .... ), but....

    Having a 40 hr a week job wouldn't leave me enough time to do everything else I want to do. The first few years of selfemployment were somewhat anxiety filled. "I only have work for a week, what am I going to do after that?" often filled my head. Then a week would pass and more work would show up. Eventually repeat jobs, repetition, part time jobs and an emotionally supportive wife quelled the anxiety.

    I'd be anxious having a job and depending entirely on it for my livelihood. I could be fired tomorrow, or the company could go bellyup, or (list here the many ways to lose a job). To be dependent for my income on the whims of management or on things totally beyond my control would make me nervous.

    Commuting to a job? OMG. Soul sucking waste of time, money and car. (My shop is in the same building as my residence.) Knocking off in the middle of a windy day for a sail with my buddies and a beer? Mountain biking on an afternoon turned sunny and warm? Priceless. Scheduling my own work, having the toys to make things I want anyway? Ditto.

    Self employment isn't for everybody, but it complements those who are employed. We make a good team and we couldn't do it without you.

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  5. #24
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    I remember an exact number on one type work. In a very brief period 10 years or so ago I did DOD work. It was small contracts I bid on making replacement parts that were small enough to fit in your hand. All the government paperwork, and packaging requirements, and looking through solicitations averaged to double the time it took to do a job over an above programming, set-up and run time. So DOD jobs equaled approximately 50% billable hours.

  6. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilho View Post
    The last relevant study I read concluded that self employed folks, on average, cleared about 70% what an employed person does. I believe it and understand why having jobs suits some people (some of my best friends .... ), but....
    IMHO its about life style choices, yeah its sure not for everyone, in my case i have always made more a year than i would as a employee. I am pretty flexible in what i will do though and if it makes me money i will generally do it. Depending on how your setup distorts the comparison figure, in my case pretty much every time i drive to work becomes a business expense, hence thats immediately a few K saved a year, theres other costs the bis picks up that would have come out of wages too. As you earn more better tax planning can really also help you keep more of your income to benefit your self. Most years i invest back in tooling wise a fair bit adding more capabilities for following years, this means more work and generally better paying work.

    In my case i have won massively through job security, being flexible means that whilst things got leaner, 2008 was more just a squeeze not a am i going to be laid off tomorrow kinda year. That was only a couple of years after i quit my last real job, my replacement got laid off, being laid off in 2008 with the morgage i had would have been near fatal for life as i know it! Having a diverse bunch of customers really helps insulate you from global economic whims too.

    I do find the best solution hours wise is to kinda give up working a set time, i use to find it really stressful when i started, then i started working weekends and have the time off more so in the week and it just matched the customers needs better and i was not doing stupid hours to try and keep a weekend clear. Hell these days i frequently plan work around weather and other outside variables. Lifes more flexible and less stress too. Haveing your own product line makes it even easier to flex the buis time around you too, spare dead hours one evening, go turn it into money so you can spend the sunny afternoon tomorrow doing something more fun!

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  8. #26
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    I don't spend a lot of time tracking the exact minutes or anything like that. I do keep up with it roughly for perspective when quoting. If I know last time I quoted 3 hours worth of labor to do a similar job and it took me 5 including all setup or because I ended up making a jig or fixture instead of using a vise, then I can quote it at 5 this go round. Or if it or the customer was a royal pain, I can quote it at 6 or 7 hours. You don't need to know where every minute of everyday goes to know your costs. You can waste a lot of time keeping up with that. One of the last jobs I had the management was focused a lot on time tracking. As a result, the employees had to stop working to go punch a card in a time clock for every operation. Times that by 10 employees and it starts to ad up over the course of a year. We only had one time clock so quite often there would be two or three guys in front of you when you needed to punch. We had a bunch of very experienced and efficient guys. They were clearing around $1.8 mill annually after paying the employees. Benefits still had to come out of it but we didn't have a ton. They were making that much due to 10 guys being pretty efficient. We each would average in the high 50s to low 60s of billable hours per week. I bet we wasted 5 hours per employee per week punching. Even if it was 3 hours, that would have been able to boost the shop output around $150K extra. They claimed not to have enough money for employee raises. Multiple people hadn't gotten a raise in 5 years or more.

    The above comments by neilho a great take on it. Both being employed and being self employed have their pluses and minuses. I do like the freedom to be able to deal with family stuff if it comes up without having to worry about my boss holding it against me. Your customers are kinda still your 'boss' but at least most of the time if you deliver on time, they don't really care when you worked on it. I have a friend that got fired for going to his grandmothers funeral. They fired him because company policy is that you must put in two weeks before any time off. Middle management was to stupid to realize this company policy shouldn't apply to funerals. He only had take the one day of the actual funeral and had told his supervisor as soon as he found out his grandmother had passed. Not have to deal with those kinds of idiotic things is a huge plus. As an owner, you know if you're on the edge of going under so you generally have plenty of warning. I worked one place were we showed up monday and the doors were locked. No warning whatsoever. It wasn't even related to the business performance directly.

  9. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelieking71 View Post
    Right?! I think I brought home about $10/hr last year!
    That is not bad, a few years during the recession I LOST more than $10 an hour.

  10. #28
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    One of the biggest bonuses to me being self employed is not putting up with work place politics. I worked for an aerospace connector company in the late 80's that had that and nepotism running amok.

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