• What are you going to make?

    by  • January 30, 2014 • Maker Movement, The Digital Fab Revolution, The New Industrial Revolution • 0 Comments

    Starting a business based on the capabilities of a piece of equipment is exactly the same as starting a business doing almost anything else. There is no piece of equipment that guarantees riches to its owner.  The goal for any business is the same. You need to find customers and offer them something that they either can’t or don’t want to do themselves. If you are motivated enough, you will find the customers. If you lucky enough, you will continue to enjoy your work long after the novelty wears off.
    That brings us to our first question. What will you make?
    Do you have a line of products that you sell already? Great! You have a leg up on most. The ShopBot can help you produce more products in a day or it can help add value to your product with things like customized engraving.
    If you don’t have a product that is selling already, you are in the same position I am in. We’ve got a few more hurdles to jump before we can realize the potential of our robotic shop hand.
    There are lots of directions you can go from here. 
    Become a CNC jobshop
    Offer to “cut the impossible” for other manufacturers or inventors.
    The trick here is to find enough work to keep yourself in the black. While this type of work can pay quite well, you are relying on other aspiring businesses. If they don’t make it, you don’t make any money yourself.
    Create a product line and start production.
    Some of the most successful shopowners I have met crank out 100s of items a day with the help of their ShopBot. They have a good collection of clients that buy from them every month. Some make signs. Some make cabinets. Some make kitchen gadgets.
    Build the world a better mousetrap.
    Maybe you’ve got the next best idea since sliced bread. That’s awesome! This approach can be the most lucrative but it’s something like becoming a rock star. Of all the aspiring bands out there, only a small portion get lucky enough to play packed arenas and retire in the tropics. You might need a backup plan.
    In any case this is a business first. Whether you will make money cutting cabinets, signs, go-karts, or the world’s best mousetrap, you are selling a product (and yourself, but we’ll cover that in a future post).
    Since my personal goal is to generate recurring income, I am going to focus on making things that people need, instead of luxury items that people can live without.
    Over the next few weeks I am going to pick a few products that I think have a promising market in my city. I encourage you to do the same. Look for the popular industries in your city and think about what that industry needs. Draw up a few prototypes and then make a few samples. Let your friends and family use them and then refine your product. Keep it simple and don’t try to solve the world’s problems right out of the gate. With any luck you will have a few refined samples to take out to businesses within a couple of weeks.
    What are you going to make?
    This post is part of a blog series entitled “For Fun and Profit“. Check back for regular updates.


    Growing up as the son of a shop teacher and a home economics teacher sparked Greg's curiosity for building and making things by hand. This lead to his current passion for exploring cutting edge technology in both the digital and physical. Greg has trained people on and used CNC routers, CNC plasma cutters, 3D printers, laser cutters, and all types of woodworking equipment. Check out his work at Tree On A Hill Workshop.


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