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  1. #1
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    Apr 2018
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    Advice for start up!

    Hello,

    I'm looking for ANY advice on starting up my own business. I have been a CNC programmer for over 10 years and am thinking of getting into doing some side work and eventually making it my main source of income. I have no idea where to start! I plan of doing some solid modeling for anyone who needs and it I would also like to purchase a CNC mill at some point and maybe start making prototypes as well. My experience so far is mainly with metal. I've been involved in the tool and die and semiconductor industry.

    Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated!!!

    Thank you very much!

  2. #2
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    Oct 2014
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    Re: Advice for start up!

    Hi, I have been self employed for the last 6 years doing more or less exactly what you plan. I'll make no bones about it, its a hard game on your own with only one machine to run. The worst part is trying to build a buffer of cash to smooth out the cash flow.
    I think the basic things are:- 1 Get organised, know where everything is and that its usable. 2 Buy the best machine you can - old kit is cheap for a good reason. 3 Things start to make sense when you have 2 machines. And finally do your best not to rely on only 1 or 2 customers.
    Diversify as best you can.
    A personal bug bear of mine is that everybody wants there stuff for nothing and they don't know or care about the investments you have to make in engineering. The odd £70k for a medium size VMC, all the tooling that goes with it not to mention software. Consumables like cutters and drills etc. It really does add up.
    I hope I haven't pissed on your chips too much. After all said and done I can't see myself with a "proper job" ever again. Good luck and don't let the buggers grind you down.

  3. #3
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    Re: Advice for start up!

    Short of starting up your own machine shop, can you think of any way to ease into this without quitting your day job? Perhaps there are some local shops that could use some help with their CNC programming, or even with their sales outreach. Getting some experience with the latter will serve you well once you decide to cut the cord - or it might convince you not to do that after all...
    Andrew Werby
    Website

  4. #4
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    Re: Advice for start up!

    Hey Rathousekid thanks for the tip! Yeah I completely understand it has to be overwhelming. I’m trying to figure it out. My main reason is I need to be home more as I have a child who has had 5 brain surgeries and we are expecting another in 2 months. I really just need to hit the lottery lol

    But really, I want to try and be home more because it’s really hard on my wife and it’s going to be much harder after our 2nd comes along!
    I love programming and making parts and I’m pretty damn good at both so I figured this would be a great opportunity. I know it won’t happen overnight though

  5. #5
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    Sep 2006
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    Re: Advice for start up!

    Without an indication of how much you want to spend ........pie in the sky is just what you are looking at.

    I would say that if you have at least 5 grand of disposable income to play with.....that would probably get your big toe into the water to see how the fish are biting.

    You need to dream up a product that you can get the maximum return on as jobbing work only makes you the cheapest overworked dude on the block.....and you still have to pay top tax on your extra earnings.

    First lesson.....don't get into finance to start a business.......pay cash and look for that pre-loved goody that still has life in it.........a new machine loses 1/3 it's value the moment it's in your hands.

    Second lesson......start small and work up to it.....you won't compete even at the bottom end with all the hopefuls on the block.

    Remember the Woolworths principle...........it's better to sell 100 items for 10 cents each than one item for 100 bucks.
    Ian.

  6. #6
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    Oct 2014
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    Re: Advice for start up!

    Hi, So sorry to hear about your little one. When your family is unwell it makes things like work insignificant. I wish you well.
    In my opinion (and it is only my narrow minded thoughts) it a rock and a hard place when starting up. You either work your day job and then in the evenings work your bollocks off trying to get work out, or you take a leap of faith and work just on your own business from day one. If you can amass some work and get a machine ready to go, then hand your notice in and go for it. As I said, its a double edged sword, you can achieve more doing it full time but the risk is greater. If I had my time again, I would look into additive engineering as opposed to our subtractive engineering. There are so many good people trying to earn a crust in the worst end of engineering that I really wonder why, when in another 25 - 30 years, a milling machine will a long forgotten oddity. Unfortunately, the technology is still prohibitively expensive to all but the richest of companies. So back to square one. Damn!
    Its not easy but, it is possible and if that's what you want to do and your wife is behind you (very very important), go for it.
    RHK

  7. #7
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    Re: Advice for start up!

    Hi, you can think of it this way......if your needs are such that you must have $1000 per week just to break even, all bills paid etc no holidays, booze or fags.....then that is the work load you must expect to put out to get there.........that is after you have the necessary infrastructure in place to generate that money and a work load too.......you also have to satisfy the tax man so blood sweat and tears will be the norm.

    A couple of things are crucial to your survival.....house paid off, car paid off and no ex wife to support.

    If you're doing OK at the moment with the finances.....don't rock the boat and go for broke.....it hurts big time.

    Of course all this is negative thinking as you might have contacts in the business to get work, but jobbing work , that is for the cheapest rate , won't make you work less hours at home......and CNC widows are 2 a penny.
    Ian..

  8. #8
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    Re: Advice for start up!

    How is your relationship with your current boss / company? I got lucky. Many moons ago I worked for a company that needed one off complicated CNC cut parts overnight. The other local shops couldn't fit them in so I arranged to make parts on my own time. Before I had a "real" machine I would rent time on a buddy's machine. Do you have any associates that have CNC machines already? Do you have skills in CNC programming and designing that other CNC shops can use you for on your time off? All you need for that is the software and your sales pitch. The other companies already invested in the machinery and the shop so if you can arrange rental time in their shop or see if they need to offload their design work and CNC programming. Any specialized skills? Injection mold designers are always in high demand. Lots of mold makers are hitting the retirement age. You're going to have to find a niche and stick with it for a few years while you keep your day job. Are you a "programmer" or just an operator (push the green button).

  9. #9
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    Re: Advice for start up!

    I had my own part time business. I did Okay; what you say about everyone wanting the cheapest price is all too true so you can imagine my surprise at how much money they were throwing at my son the welder when they wanted something welded. Unbelievable. My advice is to learn to weld and have a go at your own business doing that. Forget the machining trade.

  10. #10
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    Re: Advice for start up!

    Hi, that is a misconception from the beginning...…..it only works if you are a regular experienced welder with a fully equipped business that only does welding.

    It takes quite a bit of experience and top range equipment to do a decent weld that you can expect to be paid for...…..hobby welders are farting against thunder.

    Who would want to sit all day poking a steel rod along a crack when with a CNC machine you can sit back and watch the machine do it all for you.
    Ian..

  11. #11
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    Jul 2018
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    Re: Advice for start up!

    Hi Jason - I have worked for myself for over 30 years. In that time I have worked for others, either as an opportunity or in tough times and personally started up a couple of businesses and been involved in several start ups and shut downs. I'm starting up one at present selling kit CNC machines but that's another story. I recommend you don't invest in machinery unless you have a written supply contract. A machine that is not moving is costing money, not making money. Plus noisy jobs do not work at home... There are probably lots of contract machinists out there that can make your "clients" stuff and they will do it better and cheaper then you at home. So definitely look for design work as this you can do at home with minimal $$$. If your good with 3D modelling I think you'll always have a side job. Do a business course asap. Basic book keeping and business systems. If you don't have some idea of these you won't make any money. It took me probably 20 years to figure out how to make money as a machine designer. Do not take on everything that comes your way. You need to develop a specialty, something that you can advertise that will attract a certain type of customer. I was at a business seminar and the speaker said there were two types of businesses that earnt the best money. Pain or Pleasure. If someone is in pain they just want it fixed and will pay whatever it costs to stop the pain (eg repair and maintenance). If its something someone wants really badly and it will give them lots of pleasure then same. They will pay for the pleasure. In a way its pleasurable for them to spend the money as they have lots of it. (custom cars, boats planes motorbikes, big toys) If you pick something other than these two you are in middle ground where the lowest cost is the driver. In this ground you will burn up years chasing various low margin or zero margin projects and you may as well have had a 9-5 job. Since you have a job you have time to plan this step. Also think 3D printing not milling. Subtractive tech is old tech. So list your skills and interests and find a P&P zone that these covers then do some business courses. People will recommend writing a Biz Plan and I have done this several times. This is old tech as well. Look at this sort of thing.. https://www.strategyzer.com/ much more relevant and agile. Good Luck Cheers Peter S

  12. #12
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    Re: Advice for start up!

    Hi Jason - Left field here but one of the threads is looking for CNC programming expertise. Offer your services!! The field is milling teeth. Dental techs are not machinists and I have recently had some teeth work done and its was all scanned, CAD then CAMed. This is definitely in the pain area!! I have a friend who is a dental tech and he is near end of career. He says the field is hugh and they need people who understand CNC, CAM tool changes etc etc not how to use a scraper and take an impression. So think about it. You can work at home, they will send you the scans and you send them back G code or even cut the crown. Nice small machines doing expensive precision work. I'm sure they will start printing teeth as well. Franko123 is a dentist not a programmer or a machinist. I think you will find many many dentists out there in the same position. They want crowns not the computer stuff in the middle. It's not glamorous but it is in a very good money stream. My dental tech friend engraves images on crowns for his clients. He did a nice red skull and cross bone for a friend so there is scope for extras and creativity. Cheers Peter s

  13. #13

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    Apr 2019
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    8

    Re: Advice for start up!

    You have not specified in what format you are planning your business. One of my friends has a side job besides the main one. He accepts orders online and simply sends the finished parts. He has an accountant on a remote basis and I can advise you to take a closer look at this content. This is ideal for small businesses and saves money and effort. Are you planning to advertise or do you have a target audience?

  14. #14
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    Aug 2020
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    Re: Advice for start up!

    What would you say about digital currency trading, including bitcoin, and many other popular types? I heard that this is now a profitable and proven business that requires only attention, patience, and hard work. I use proven trading sites, here http://changehero.io/.

  15. #15
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    Aug 2020
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    Re: Advice for start up!

    In fact, this completely depends on a person's personal passion or in what type of business he feels better or comfortable. With it he has to good skills, project analysis ability and risk assessment forecasting. There are huge business options or categories or opportunities around whether it is online or offline. Fist, he should have to be decided what he wants and what his goal is. And finally he has to do market analysis or possibilities and think of his financial source or ability. I can remember a person who made his start up with a small business and after struggling a lot now he has found his goal and doing business online heatsign.com and offline too. Hope this will be able to produce a light for you. Thanks

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