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A humble request for mentor. Potential new shop.

I’m not a shop owner, I’m not even a full time machinist, and the only business I’ve owned was tiny, so take this with a chunk of salt. I have worked at a couple very early stage startups, and watched some go better than others.

It seems like the customers you are looking at fall into two very different groups. You’ve already reached the conclusion that you can’t fully tool up for both, which is good. Something I’ve seen work out well is narrowing scope. You don’t want to turn down profitable work, but if one of your two paths carries a better chance of success it may be worth concentrating there rather than spending 80% more resources for 40% more potential.
 
Price is high, $2750/mo + utilities

All tool holders are planned to be rolled into financing.

Bad juju right there. Rent way too high. Especially if you dont have garanteed work lined up. And I ment PO's in fist.
My shop is smaller than you are talking, and I have had up to 8 full-size CNCs in it, pretty comfortably.
Open concrete is wasted money. When you need it the most! (start-up)
Tool-holders, man, why would you want to pay interest on small expenses. I would strongly recommend to buy on an as needed basis.
Keep that overhead as low as possible. Sure, if you buy a new machine, and they toss in a tooling package, shop wisely, and use it.
Otherwise? No way in hell I would finance tooling. Or buy tooling I "might need" someday.

There are easier ways to lose all your money. I would recommend hookers.

In all seriousness, the odds are stacked against you if you're not an expert at some portion of the business. You should either be an expert at machining or an expert at running a business. If you have to learn both at the same time, you're in for a bumpy ass ride.

Boy aint that the truth!
Take care of your health and watch your stress levels. My first 10 years in business it seemed like I accomplished everything with tenacity and brute force. Some exciting health problems forced me to use my brain for solving more than the immediate problems right in front of me and plan shit, strategize. If I could start it all over I would definitely do more thinking and less working.

I can relate to that 100%. I put about 20 years on me, in the first 10 years of business. Stress will kill you! Literally.
Up until about a year ago, I was sliding towards that steep slope :eek:. Thank god for an observant wife! I carried it well. Nobody else would have suspected.
But she saw it. Doctors found several serious issues. That I never had before. ALL stress and tension related.
One of the hardest things I have had to learn is to let problems slide off my back as I walk out the door at the end of the day.
 
There are easier ways to lose all your money. I would recommend hookers.

In all seriousness, the odds are stacked against you if you're not an expert at some portion of the business. You should either be an expert at machining or an expert at running a business. If you have to learn both at the same time, you're in for a bumpy ass ride.



Short bio: floor sweeper, manual machines, cnc machines, operator, machinist, macros, programmer, manufacturing engineer 2/3 (according to Donkey Hotey, which resonates with me).
I've been on PM for a while, now using company email, new PM name. (never much of a member presence anyhow)




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Think Snow Eh!
Ox
 
I'm 12 years in and am taking the long drawn out way of doing things so it's really only been the last 2-3 where I felt like I didn't make a bad decision. I think it takes alot more persistence than anyone really truly believes going into it, things just take alot more than you'd guess they would and of course more time.

This makes me feel better 😅. I am nearly 4 years in and not a month goes by without reassessing everything.
What am I doing wrong?
What do I really need?
Why am I broke?
Oh sh*t, a big influx of cash; I have 90 days to figure out what to do with it or I have to pay taxes on all of it.

Pimp'n ain't easy...


I got a loan on my machine, own my building and had lots of tools and a few manual machines already. Everything was fine with paying off that loan, but just for my own sake I don't plan to get another loan for anything.

I am an owner operator so the overhead is such that I can deal with it and not be stressed out with payroll and machine payments and rent etc. I'm able to weather life's storms much easier in my opinion than throwing that on top of things. I will say that recently things are busy enough and jobs running long enough that I have been more open to the idea of help. My personality and confidence in my abilities make it so that I am more at home with machine and building repairs and figuring out how to deal with that vs buying new(er) stuff and paying for whatever those things cost. I struggle with knowing when to let someone else do it and looking back I could have made things easier if had at least a few times...

Before I started officially and got the machine loan I spent alot of time on here reading all the threads all the way beck to the beginning of the forum. Lots to learn, lots of repetition, but there are comments in there from guys that aren't with us anymore and are worth reading. I'd also look into any thread that has anything to do with real estate, environmental issues, payment or lack of them, etc. There are enough on here and from all over that there is someone who has learned the hard way about a subject that wasn't even on my radar. I recall one guy had to deal with the EPA due to his place that he just bought. It turned into a huge deal. Enough so that if you knew it going in, you wouldn't sign up for that no matter the price. I remember thinking at the time that I had never even considered that being a thing I should ask about.

Also, I hated hearing it, but most will say don't quit your day job until is very obvious you can make it for awhile on your own. I didn't get another job, mostly because I felt if I worked for someone else, I'd never make it happen. Hindsight being what it is, I do wish that I had bought some big ticket things before I got booted from the old job. I was making good money and could have bought CAM software and a machine. I'd say get everything you can before you lose the day job.

I'd say buy a CAM package ASAP, that will be the foundation to actually making things no matter the machine. Pick one that will upgrade to multiaxis so you can grow with it.
Retired now, but I've started and run a number of small businesses (7 total IIRC though only three "real" ones that lasted more than a few years). Not machining, but I think the business side issues are the same. So things I wish I'd known up front:

1. Get an accountant to do your taxes. I made the mistake of trying to go it alone for a few years. The IRS is a lot less gentle with businesses than with individual taxpayers, and the couple of grand you pay an accountant every year will be a lot less than the vicious fines for even the most innocent of mistakes.

2. Track every penny. You CAN do this yourself, with some discipline. To this day I force myself to reconcile every statement and enter every transaction daily or close to daily. Keep on top of it and it's 15 minutes a day. Wait until you have a foot high stack of invoices and receipts and it is really painful. You have to do this with software, not on paper. I use GnuCash but think any common double entry system would do fine.

3. Some of your customers won't pay you, either in full, on time, or at all. Plan for it. I had the worst problems with the biggest corporations, much better luck with small businesses and government agencies. For many of my contracts I would not have payment on deposit in my bank for 3 to 12(!) months after doing and delivering the bulk of the work.

4. Have enough savings to survive a long time (six months plus) with zero net income, and be prepared for several lean years until you have a customer base built up. My collection of repeat customers was (slowly) building up for fifteen years, right up until I retired and shut down those companies. I never drew a salary, my income was what wasn't eaten up with other expenses. One bad year I had a negative annual income (some $30K in the hole).

5. Get an attorney to review your proposals and the inevitable red-lining by prospective customers, for any large jobs (= any job you can't afford to lose all the revenue from). It hurts to drop several hundred dollars a pop on paper shuffling, but too risky not to. Also, after a while you and your attorney get a sense for what is needed, by sheer repetition, and it gets easier.

6. Be careful with subs. Often necessary but you are responsible if it's your name on the contract. Several times I had to pay out of my pocket to cover subcontractor screwups ($23K one time, $7.5K another ... it hurt to write those checks).

7. Some small subset of your customers will be pure gold, even (especially?) the ones you think won't really matter. I had several customer contacts that brought me new business as they moved from company A to B to C. I learned to cherish them and would even sometimes give unsolicited and unpromised discounts as a reward. Towards the end as I retired I my business was mostly repeat customers.

8. The flip side ... some prospective customers you just need to walk away from (politely of course). Learned that one the hard way. Several times.

-Steve M.

We need more posts like these two. Thank you for sharing gentlemen.
 
Is moonlighting an option?

Operating a garage shop while holding a day job is one of the best ways to get your feet wet with entrepreneurship. It largely eliminates the "fight for survival" aspect of owning a business.
And allows you to pump all the cash you earn in to equipment so you don't need to finance it when you go it alone.
 
I started out by working 2 jobs and when I walked away from the last job they paid me as a consultant for a day a week. This covered my rent plus a bit for the first while till I got going properly. They also kept sending me to China to manage projects for them and giving me other ad hoc work till I told them to piss off because of the stupid decisions they kept making. One thing I can warn you of that has cost me hugely over the years, if you can't keep your emotions out of it then just like me it will cost you also. Bite your tongue and take the money.
 
Tool-holders, man, why would you want to pay interest on small expenses. I would strongly recommend to buy on an as needed basis.
Keep that overhead as low as possible. Sure, if you buy a new machine, and they toss in a tooling package, shop wisely, and use it.
Otherwise? No way in hell I would finance tooling. Or buy tooling I "might need" someday.



I can relate to that 100%. I put about 20 years on me, in the first 10 years of business. Stress will kill you! Literally.
I also did not like the idea of interest on tooling and can understand your point. Machine will be new as you referenced.

Could you redirect this train of thought if it is bad...
-There will be a tooling cert from most likely Lyndex Nikken thrown into deal. I'll be paying (up front, not considering interest) 60c on the $1.00

-MTB said in their experience about 10% of machine price to properly tool up. So roughly 40k. (seems high to me though, I've calc'd about 20k.)

-Roll that 40k into financing (which will end up costing approx 70k in long run).

-That 40k not out-of-pocket immediately to set aside for monthly overhead backup

-All endmills and consumables purchased cash (not sure if you thought those were in there)



Stress? My plan is to meditate. No plan B on stress yet so I hope I get good fast, and it works eh??!!!

Thanks for sharing wheelieking.
 
There are easier ways to lose all your money. I would recommend hookers.

In all seriousness, the odds are stacked against you if you're not an expert at some portion of the business. You should either be an expert at machining or an expert at running a business. If you have to learn both at the same time, you're in for a bumpy ass ride.
The hookers sound like a way more enjoyable ride down. Still a bumpy ASS RIDE there too ;)
 
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Is moonlighting an option?

Operating a garage shop while holding a day job is one of the best ways to get your feet wet with entrepreneurship. It largely eliminates the "fight for survival" aspect of owning a business.
It was my first thought. And it is definitely the most solid, low-risk approach.

I could run the 'ol Mini-Mill or DN solutions equivalent.

The work I have lined up and machines required, regretfully, make that option impossible due to space, power needs, and HOA restrictions.

Haha, funny thought...I evaluated sound proofing garage (even for the Mini) and realized some sound was always going to get out.
I thought to line my property perimeter (standard neighborhood, not acres) with small speakers facing outwards and play some sort of slightly louder than average mix tape of "night sounds".

I imagined the neighbors to be thinking "damn, that house sure does have some big cicadas in those trees"
 
I'm in Houston, what parts of town are you in? I'm trying to learn the trade and start a small home based business, I could probably learn from you.
 
Well gentlemen,

A lot of "new shop" threads.
That is not what I'm trying to do here.

I am reaching out in the hopes that someone who may have received assistance starting up their business is looking to pass on some guidance.
(which is possibly even distasteful than another "new shop" thread)

Some very wise people have said, "you would be surprised how many people are willing to help, just gotta ask".
This is me asking so I dont totally faceplant my family's wellbeing.

Short bio: floor sweeper, manual machines, cnc machines, operator, machinist, macros, programmer, manufacturing engineer 2/3 (according to Donkey Hotey, which resonates with me).
I've been on PM for a while, now using company email, new PM name. (never much of a member presence anyhow)

I have an opportunity at the moment to start a business
I am very analytical and can generally reach optimal decisions but I am ignorant to many business concepts (reading, discussing, and learning now)

The common saying "dont know what you dont know" applies to me.

Looking for a PM discussion as probably more productive than a wide open thread. From which I expect to take a few lashings.
Im Houston based, in machine consideration stage, general advice, and unknown/surprising financial obligations, expected income, etc....
We can build from there and if there is any small value I can bring to the table, I will do so.

OOOkkkkaaayyyy...... the gasoline has been poured.
The match is lit, and "post thread" is the blaze. Lets go.
Add your location to your profile. I had to wade through 3/4 of your first post to figure out you are nowhere near me. At least you are in North America. If the location showed in your header more likely busy folks would notice if they are close and offer to help a local guy out.
Bill D
 
Add your location to your profile. I had to wade through 3/4 of your first post to figure out you are nowhere near me. At least you are in North America. If the location showed in your header more likely busy folks would notice if they are close and offer to help a local guy out.
Bill D
Thanks. Will do.
*Added, thank you sir.
 
I'm in Houston, what parts of town are you in? I'm trying to learn the trade and start a small home based business, I could probably learn from you.
Are you referencing me in the "learn from you" part?
I think as far as business and shop opening it would be a "blind leading the blind" kinda thing.

If you send me a PM and IF I can help in any way I will. I probably can't help in any area aside from outside-the-box ideas and some tech stuff, but yeah, I'm open to help.
 
Take care of your health and watch your stress levels. My first 10 years in business it seemed like I accomplished everything with tenacity and brute force. Some exciting health problems forced me to use my brain for solving more than the immediate problems right in front of me and plan shit, strategize. If I could start it all over I would definitely do more thinking and less working.

I’m moving to a larger space in a couple of weeks and you can bet your ass I’ve not had a machine on in the past 10-12 days. Need time to conceptualize and ensure this move isn’t going to be more of the same. Better products, better margins, better customers. I ain’t moving 100k lbs of shit to go backwards…
 
Are you referencing me in the "learn from you" part?
I think as far as business and shop opening it would be a "blind leading the blind" kinda thing.

If you send me a PM and IF I can help in any way I will. I probably can't help in any area aside from outside-the-box ideas and some tech stuff, but yeah, I'm open to help.
Yes Sir I am speaking to you! I own a small electrical business but really want to get into machining. I have a small machine shop in my four bay car garage and just want to tag along or even sweep the floors and watch. Believe me you can teach me how to chew bubble gum and I would pay attention.
 
Add your location to your profile. I had to wade through 3/4 of your first post to figure out you are nowhere near me. At least you are in North America. If the location showed in your header more likely busy folks would notice if they are close and offer to help a local guy out.
Bill D
This is very true in my experience! Two people who have helped me from the very beginning and still to this day:
Philabuster, PM's resident Mazak and general turning wizard. I can't even figure out where to beging listing the ways he has helped me!
And just like Bill said, when I was a brand new start up, Phil noticed I was local, and reached out to me. To this day, I highly value our friendship.
And a good old boy named Joe. He owns another local shop. I stumbled on him when he listed an air-compressor on craigslist.
Much to my surprise when I went to pick it up, it was a machine shop. we had a pretty nice conversation. When it was time to leave he said:
"Good luck man, let me know if there is anything else I can do to help you get going". I immediately blurted out "got any overflow work?!"
Three days later he came to visit at my shop. I guess it was like a qualification visit? Because he handed me a pretty decent PO before he left.
That was 11 years ago, and I am setting up a lathe job for him right now.
I have had a lot more help from great people along the way. But, Phil and Joe........sometimes you get lucky and meet the best people.
 
I also did not like the idea of interest on tooling and can understand your point. Machine will be new as you referenced.

Could you redirect this train of thought if it is bad...
-There will be a tooling cert from most likely Lyndex Nikken thrown into deal. I'll be paying (up front, not considering interest) 60c on the $1.00

-MTB said in their experience about 10% of machine price to properly tool up. So roughly 40k. (seems high to me though, I've calc'd about 20k.)

-Roll that 40k into financing (which will end up costing approx 70k in long run).

-That 40k not out-of-pocket immediately to set aside for monthly overhead backup

-All endmills and consumables purchased cash (not sure if you thought those were in there)



Stress? My plan is to meditate. No plan B on stress yet so I hope I get good fast, and it works eh??!!!

Thanks for sharing wheelieking.
Personally? I wouldn't buy anything (but the machine) until I had a job for it. Leave the money in the bank.
Accupro stuff from MSC is pretty good stuff, and you can have it in one day if it is in stock.
Except a handful of general stuff. A few collet holders to cover a broad range. A few collet sets for each size holder.
But just ordering random stuff willy-nilly to the tune of 10% of machine cost?! That (pardon my language) is fucking crazy! :nutter:
And keep this in mind: machine tool sellers have the highest mark-up on machine tooling.

About 3 years before I even had my first machine, but knew my own shop was on the horizon, and what the first machine would be, I started buying up tooling for it on ebay. A guy can save mountains of cash that way. I know I did. But, it can be very time consuming. And you need to have a pretty good idea of what kind of work you plan to be doing.
 
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Yes Sir I am speaking to you! I own a small electrical business but really want to get into machining. I have a small machine shop in my four bay car garage and just want to tag along or even sweep the floors and watch. Believe me you can teach me how to chew bubble gum and I would pay attention.
Well, as it so happens, I am unemployed at the moment and have more time than brains.
Send me a private message and we can go from there.

IRONIC: wasn't I the ONE asking for a mentor????

Wise person I know says you have to "bring value before you can receive value".
 
This is very true in my experience! Two people who have helped me from the very beginning and still to this day:
Philabuster, PM's resident Mazak and general turning wizard. I can't even figure out where to beging listing the ways he has helped me!
And just like Bill said, when I was a brand new start up, Phil noticed I was local, and reached out to me. To this day, I highly value our friendship.
And a good old boy named Joe. He owns another local shop. I stumbled on him when he listed an air-compressor on craigslist.
Much to my surprise when I went to pick it up, it was a machine shop. we had a pretty nice conversation. When it was time to leave he said:
"Good luck man, let me know if there is anything else I can do to help you get going". I immediately blurted out "got any overflow work?!"
Three days later he came to visit at my shop. I guess it was like a qualification visit? Because he handed me a pretty decent PO before he left.
That was 11 years ago, and I am setting up a lathe job for him right now.
I have had a lot more help from great people along the way. But, Phil and Joe........sometimes you get lucky and meet the best people.
That's what it is all about.
Maybe the "it takes a village...." thing applies to more than just kiddos.

I've always been a lone wolf but I am starting to appreciate and value friendships. A balance of strengths and weaknesses.

Glad you shared that and glad you have that!
 








 
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