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  1. #1
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    Default Starting a business.

    I have been following the forum for a while and have learned a lot. I have hit 55 and realise that without a pension I need to make a plan to generate an income when I am deemed surplus to requirement by my employer.

    My wife and I are pretty frugal but we never have the means to spend in the way a lot of our acquaintances and co-workers of all ages do. I realise a CNC machine is a non-starter but even a modest lathe and mill seem out of the question. Apart from Craigslist what is the best way to locate used equipment at a good price?

    Is there any chance of people giving a short spiel on how they got started? I doubt I am alone.

    Geardoc's recent thread was inspiring to say the least, and I am sure he is not the only one who has a tale to tell.

  2. #2
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    So you're 55 and employed, and have presumably been employed for 35+ years, but you don't have the money to buy a mill and lathe and dump them in the garage?

    I'm not sure self employment is going to help you.

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    Well...unless something changes for me because I'm not the kind to give up, I am currently one of the ones that has added to the numbers of years I have to work as a result of thinking it was cool to start a business. Don't feel bad for me. I'm 37 so I'll be just fine. Someday I'll share my story, but at this point in the cycle of my life its all kind of embarrassing.

    Name of the game is get as much passive income working to your advantage as you can from your discretionary and residual income streams.

    You are 55, I'd pick up a second job 3-4 nights a week for a few years and drop it all into the most aggressive lowest risk investment strategy I could handle by either learning to manage yourself or one of the big financial companies help or even have a financial adviser involved.

    For me, 55 is too old to take major risks like that. Lots of people crash and burn in this game. You might be a great machinist but a horrible business person.

    Just remember, "I wish I worked more and had more money in my bank account." - Said no person ever while on their death bed.

    With all that said, listen to your heart. If it will make you happy and help you achieve your goals then that is great as well!

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    Not to be an ass, but you are a little old to start a machine shop on the cheap. To execute that plan you have to be willing to keep the day job while working 40+ hour weeks for yourself. You have to be willing to do crap work others have turned down, no one is handing a potential new vendor the gravy work. Since you will have limited equipment to get work, many times you will have to grind long hours making 1/4 of the rate the guy that has the right equipment charges. Been there done all that, it was a tough time and I was 35, in great health and could get by on 2-3 hours sleep a day for long stretches. I was also single and just had a dog to take care of.

    P.S. I forgot to add sometimes the profits on the jobs didn't even cover the tooling and fixtures I bought to make it. Figure with your plan, work like a dog for 3 years just to earn money to stock the shop with perishables, support equipment and more machines that will handle a wider range of work. All that money goes to the shop, your occasional treat will be calling the pizza man so you crank handles with the right hand and eat with the left.

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    man, it takes so much to succeed in business, getting into it needs to be driven by some inimitable force - either you're brain is (mis)wired such that you just have to be doing something entrepreneurial (me), or see a burning urgent need in market that you think you can fill and HAVE to do it. But as a back up plan? hmmmm, can't see it. Maybe you can psych yourself up for it or find that product/invention you're willing to risk everything for....but get looking for the passion first is my suggestion.

    And remember, being a great a machinist is a small part of it. Getting customers and capital is probably tougher.

    Just to think out the box, what do you like to do? Start figuring out a product/service/innovation of some sort that serves that space. Start making them/selling them/ building a brand/web presence etc on the side while you are working. Can't afford a web site? spend your weekend learning html and diy - that's what entrepreneurs do - whatever it takes. I know a lady who was a legal secretary and launched a business manufacturing flat bread. For years she would come home and bake until 3:00 am. Margarets Flat Bread. Don't know if she sold out or what happened, but eventually she did if full time, had a good brand and when I toured it, it was a full fledged factory making flat bread. She was a secretary and knew nothing of sales or finance, but she learned.

    I suppose the point is, 1) launch your business into something where you can really add value, 2) launch it now while you have cash flow and 3) it doesn't have to be machining....let the mind wander and explore what excites you cause you will need the passion for it

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    Should probably post things like:
    1. Your knowledge & experience
    2. Your assets available to devote to this endeavor.
    3. Your local area's needs (what kind of machining work
    is available)
    4. Your local area's supplies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    Should probably post things like:
    1. Your knowledge & experience
    2. Your assets available to devote to this endeavor.
    3. Your local area's needs (what kind of machining work
    is available)
    4. Your local area's supplies.
    I think he said #2 was low, that is why I gave him the doing it on the cheap plan.

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    What are you good at…
    Here is a guy advertizing on craigslist.. I have no idea how he is doing..You might run an add for a week to see what is out there in your area..even with not having a machine.

    Lathe and Mill work - creative services

    I think a decent 13-40 or better engine lathe with a turret and a slide bar cutoff could make some money

    Clausing Lathe 15 x 48 - tools - by dealer - sale

    Yes one can pop a tail center in the turret and do long between centers..

    Sweet machine..I should buy it...if it is as good at it looks..but that is a top machine sales place ..likely very good.

    A two man shop would be good to one could go on vacation and the like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dualkit View Post
    I think he said #2 was low, that is why I gave him the doing it on the cheap plan.
    Yes, I read that, but there has to be some assets.

    Like for example, the OP has a house free & clear, in which he can build a shop.

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    Scour craigslist daily, there are good deals occasionally. Most of the sellers on CL are just looking to make a buck, and ALL of them will say it is in great shape, because they just don't know any better. Look for the retired/deceased sales, there can be some good deals there. Also start hitting the industrial auctions in your area, a lot of the older yet still serviceable machines are selling really cheap.

    I'm a tad older than you and setting up a small shop, not that I really need to, I just want to because I'm bored, and there is nobody doing it for 100 or so miles in any direction. I can afford to pick and choose what jobs I take in, I'm going to try to keep it pretty simple in/out type work.

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    Skip machining. Too expensive to get started, and too expensive (timewise) to get good. Learn how to weld. Get certified. Entry level welders are not incredibly expensive, and come in various levels of spiffy-ness. That doesn't mean it's cheap, but you can spend what you have and move up when opportunity presents itself, usually with no more than a pickup truck. You can always find work, or strike out on your own. It's portable, (locally, regionally, nationally) and you'll save on gym membership.

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    I got lucky. About 8 months ago a maker space opened up in my area that's geared towards start up's/entrepreneurs. Nothing fancy but they have a decent lathe and mill, band saw, drill presses, and a friendly staff who can offer a second opinion when you need it.

    $ 35 per day or $ 200 per month and zero stress about maintenance. I peek at the local listings from time to time, but unless I saw a Deckel for $ 250 I don't know if I'd bother buying anything when I've got a sweet pay by the day deal like this.

    In my case I only make my own stuff. If I farmed it out to a local shop I'd probably loose most of my margin. I'm not getting rich but I am growing the business slowly and hopefully moving in the right direction.

    As others have mentioned being a low bidder job shop is not really a path to success. You need to find a gap in your local market to service where being cheap isn't the primary consideration.

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    Starting a machine shop you need good machines..ones that don't need work.. the lathe i mentioned in post #8 likely is that good..It likely would need perhaps 2k in support. Tool holders,a lay out table, measuring tools likely you have, a set of collects, down the road a shadow graph..so likely $8 to $10k for setting up a $5k machine..
    So you should know or have a good idea where the work will come from.
    A surface grinder alone can make can make a fair living with finding the right work.. Still likely $6k or better to get set up with finding good used equipment and being lucky the grinder will make.0002 and flat..
    You almost have to find longer run work.. hundreds or thousands of parts to make..one or few ups cost way too much in handling..
    * For many if not most a good job is better than a start-up.

    All just opinion so don't blame me if all fails.

    QT gag9.ca: [a maker space opened up in my area] That is cool ..I would join in a heartbeat...

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    I have started 4 businesses and can tell you that looking at the social security accounting that said I made 20,000 a year average for 20 years was sobering. I work for real money and bennies now. Working at number 5, not my company, not my money, not going to fly, having fun. Probably need another job soon.

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    ....all these suggestions, and yet no knowledge of the OP's skills,
    limitations, etc.....

    Where is GaryE with "Get a hotdog cart" ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gwelo62 View Post
    I have hit 55 and realise that without a pension I need to make a plan to generate an income when I am deemed surplus to requirement by my employer.
    Forget it, too late. You won't even break even for the first five years, there's too much to buy.

    Go to Plan B.

  22. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    Where is GaryE with "Get a hotdog cart" ?
    There's some members I just don't miss...

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    I don't think I would want to start it all from scratch at 55.

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    I started my business with nothing. I owed 300 grand I was upside down on my home and I was unemployed. I got a job at a machinerey dealer so I could get cheap machines. I earned minimum wage and he gave me machines that I could fix up after work. I worked 7 days a week 14 hours a day for 10 years and now I have a good business and own the buildings we are in and have 8 fulltime employees. I was 37 when I started my business I am 47 now. I would never tell someone they cant do something, people can surprise you. In my case it all could have gone very wrong but I was already totally screwed. I had nothing to lose if I failed I would have gone bankrupt and would have probably been ahead actually. I payed off all the debt with what I earned from my business. I dont have the same drive I had at 37 and I doubt I will have more at 55 but thats just me maybe you are a raging ball of ambition.

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    Don’t forget you will have social security to help in 5 years.


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