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    Default Starting a Shop from scratch

    Hello Everyone. My name is Roman and I recently started my own shop.

    Located in Connecticut, I rented a space and bought 2 CNC Mills and my first customer is my current employer. I started 4 years ago in this field as a CNC Operator working my way to Engineering and Programming and have been doing this for about 2 years now. I'm not planning to quit my full-time job anytime soon, just keeping the shop as an extra income but I do want to expand and I'm ready to work 15-17hrs if needed and take all of the force of business.

    I just wanted to ask for advice from more experienced people and see what shall I do in order to expand and have work coming in. Should I come up with some kind of my own product or should I seek work from bigger companies?

    Any advice is welcome.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blackwolf4278 View Post
    Hello Everyone. My name is Roman and I recently started my own shop.

    Located in Connecticut, I rented a space and bought 2 CNC Mills and my first customer is my current employer. I started 4 years ago in this field as a CNC Operator working my way to Engineering and Programming and have been doing this for about 2 years now. I'm not planning to quit my full-time job anytime soon, just keeping the shop as an extra income but I do want to expand and I'm ready to work 15-17hrs if needed and take all of the force of business.

    I just wanted to ask for advice from more experienced people and see what shall I do in order to expand and have work coming in. Should I come up with some kind of my own product or should I seek work from bigger companies?

    Any advice is welcome.
    Read Wheelies complete shop thread. Its a good week of reading but answered a lot of questions i had.

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    Forget about big companies, they usually aren't going to want to do business with someone with a day job. They want you to be available to them during normal office hours. Having ones own product or products is a good way to go, it is a lot easier to manage work flow, as it is just based on maintaining minimum inventory levels. If you are a small job shop you end up being either worked to death or wondering if you will be able to make rent for next month. I sold my own products till the recession of 2008 wiped out the limousine industry I sold to and it still hasn't returned, then I converted to a job shop. So when you are thinking of creating your own products try to come up with items that are something somebody will want even if money is tight.

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    Everyone is different and your situation is yours.

    I went into business with my entire business plan being "fuck working for anyone else for the rest of my life". I had a bridgeport, a lathe a couple decent welders and a 2 post lift.

    There were some months when rent was late. I did a wild variety of things for years to generate an income. I found things I was good at and things I enjoyed. Followed opportunities. Didn't get too disappointed when things didn't work out. Saved, scrounged and made it work.


    IMO, guys who are good at working for others in well compensated areas (like engineering) should stick to their day jobs and just do side work when it's convenient. I've seen alot of these folks carefully plan some sort of entrepreneurial scheme and then it just kind of fizzles along with 80 hour weeks grinding them down.

    I think tenacity is critical. Do whatever it takes mentality. If you need work you drum up work. You finger out whatever works for you. You want products, you put everything you have into becoming the worlds foremost expert on whatever it is you think you can make and sell. You make it happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frater01 View Post
    Read Wheelies complete shop thread. Its a good week of reading but answered a lot of questions i had.
    Thank you, where could I find this thread?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dualkit View Post
    Forget about big companies, they usually aren't going to want to do business with someone with a day job. They want you to be available to them during normal office hours. Having ones own product or products is a good way to go, it is a lot easier to manage work flow, as it is just based on maintaining minimum inventory levels. If you are a small job shop you end up being either worked to death or wondering if you will be able to make rent for next month. I sold my own products till the recession of 2008 wiped out the limousine industry I sold to and it still hasn't returned, then I converted to a job shop. So when you are thinking of creating your own products try to come up with items that are something somebody will want even if money is tight.
    Thanks for your advice, I was thinking more about my product as well. Although here is the second issue - I have 0 clue what I can make.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    Everyone is different and your situation is yours.

    I went into business with my entire business plan being "fuck working for anyone else for the rest of my life". I had a bridgeport, a lathe a couple decent welders and a 2 post lift.

    There were some months when rent was late. I did a wild variety of things for years to generate an income. I found things I was good at and things I enjoyed. Followed opportunities. Didn't get too disappointed when things didn't work out. Saved, scrounged and made it work.


    IMO, guys who are good at working for others in well compensated areas (like engineering) should stick to their day jobs and just do side work when it's convenient. I've seen alot of these folks carefully plan some sort of entrepreneurial scheme and then it just kind of fizzles along with 80 hour weeks grinding them down.

    I think tenacity is critical. Do whatever it takes mentality. If you need work you drum up work. You finger out whatever works for you. You want products, you put everything you have into becoming the worlds foremost expert on whatever it is you think you can make and sell. You make it happen.
    I'm kind of the same as you. I really don't want to work for someone since here are a lot of limitations when you work for some person. In business - only I am my limit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blackwolf4278 View Post
    I'm kind of the same as you. I really don't want to work for someone since here are a lot of limitations when you work for some person. In business - only I am my limit.
    You might want to work on products then. There are all sorts of limitations beyond your control starting a jobshop from scratch on your own money.

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    You might want to work on products then. There are all sorts of limitations beyond your control starting a jobshop from scratch on your own money
    .

    Oh I'm sure there are, I probably wrote that wrong. I meant that there are no growth limitations if you come up with a good product.

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    go to wheeliekings profile and then posts it should be in there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blackwolf4278 View Post
    I'm kind of the same as you. I really don't want to work for someone since here are a lot of limitations when you work for some person. In business - only I am my limit.
    No, you're not.

    I said fuck working for others fresh out of the military at 23 with a few machines and $600 in the bank.

    Before self employment I had the plan to make products, but none of the things I thought were million dollar ideas worked out. Hell, my original, patentable, "big idea" that was my driving force for years hasn't even been made into a working prototype yet. 19 years ago I came up with it. There have been about 40 other products, thousands of unique parts made for them and hundreds of of unsuccessful concepts.

    "Don't know what to make" is a good sign you aren't going to make products. "Don't know which dozen to make first"- There's a good chance you could pull it off.

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    Here you go.

    B&A Precision

    There are a couple others on the forum that are super helpful for people like you. I'm sure other will recommend them. You will find out about the million little things that don't get factored in by most folks.

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    Wheelie's shop thread is definitely the most entertaining, but it would be worth reading quite a few of the other ones as well if you have the time.

    https://www.practicalmachinist.com/v...d-shop-photos/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post

    "Don't know what to make" is a good sign you aren't going to make products. "Don't know which dozen to make first"- There's a good chance you could pull it off.
    This is true...about the closest I have come is custom design/build projects. I have the background for product design...I just dont really have any product ideas that I'm passionate about.

    Now that I'm in the jobshop world, I dont really have time/energy for any hobbies or interests that would develop into product ideas.

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    If you're doing products you don't need the breadth of knowledge of a job shop. You end up in more specialized machines and processes.

    I've bought more than a few vehicles I wouldn't otherwise own just to take them apart and design a fix for a real or perceived shortcoming. I have 100 ft of 8 feet tall shelves of some of the weirdest shit you could imagine that I have reverse engineered in order to design something new. Many many times I have spent thousands of dollars ordering dozens of similar automotive parts to find the one that will work in a custom application so I can meet a price point with a product.

    My world is very different from a job shop. I could spend a week staring at a few parts on a table. spend two months making a dozen different prototypes before a working product emerges and I tool up to hit the market.

    I am never bored.

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    By background, I meant in engineering production machinery and tool/die design.

    And yes, they are very different worlds.

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    There's a very careful dance you have to do when you're a startup shop making products. You have to accept that you're as bad at machining, as bad at product design, as bad at sales AND as bad at business as you will ever be in your career. It doesn't matter how hot shit you think you are going in, the first years will be humbling.

    So start small. Start small both for total addressable market and for development difficulty. If you have one giant worldbeater idea, and you want to make it yourself, don't start with that. By the time you figure out how to manufacture it, someone good at manufacturing will have knocked it off. If you get over that hurdle, someone better at selling than you will scoop up all the retailers first. Or you'll over-extend yourself. So many ways to die.

    So start with some limited sort of genuinely useful product. Sell 50. It could be something as stupid as pretty bottle opener on etsy or as specific as an LED headlight adapter for a 1975 John Deere Tractor. Doesn't matter. The process of designing, making and selling those 50 will make you better. Then move on to something bigger in the same vein if things went well, and something different if things went poorly. If you're good enough to be in the game, sooner or later you'll end up with a niche. You're not going to be able to predict what that will be now anyway. I like robots, airplanes and automation. I ended up a world expert in the electrical control systems of electronic cigarettes. I don't even smoke. Or vape. But it's bought me a lot of shiny new machines over the years.

    Being in business is a learned skill. Start with something simple enough that you can learn the business side without having to simultaneously learn your market, and product design, and marketing, and HR, and environmental regulations and how to hire and how to fire and interview while worrying about making next months' payments while your distributor got tired of waiting and commissioned a Chinese knockoff. Plenty of time for all of that once you know anything.

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    Aside from wheelies thread everyone mentioned heres some other things.

    been on my own since 90, 2 things I wish I would have done(still might as I am only 58 , went to school or take class's on engineering and went to school and took class's on business. not a degree persay but more then intro class's.

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    If I went back to '65 ,I would keep proper books,have an accountant (cheap one obviously),and pay some taxes----start as you mean to go on......but thats then ,......nowdays you cant avoid any of it,they got you tabbed electronically in every direction.So in that respect things are a lot easier.

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    All of these are really great and useful response. I appreciate every person who took their time to write a sentence or two.

    Garwood, I'm sorry if I've said something wrong, did not mean to get you angry to any degree.

    I will keep taking advices from all of you guys. I haven't yet decided whether I'll do my product or stick to being a jobshop, most likely I'll try both and see what works.

    As well I have a website, maybe someone will have some suggestions regarding the website, since I'm still not too sure how useful a website could even be for a machine shop. Its: CNC Machining - Precision Milling | Roco Manufacturing


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