...You will notice Tom described business-to-business opportunities. If you don't know what that is you need to research it.
Their is no bigger cheapskate than the average Joe Public Walk In customer. They want Museum quality work at Chinese prices. Stay out of that market.
I hope this helps someone.
I think there are lots of people who have pretty good skills at CNC, and decent machines. They just don't know about what's required to make it pay. Earning back the cost of a $5,000 to $15,000 machine should not take much more than a year if marketing gets handled, much sooner if you take the trouble to get good at it. Modern marketing has NOTHING to do with selling. Right on Rob, the "museum quality at Chinese prices" crowd is not worth pursuing.
Calculating prices should start with a profit margin 4-5 times more than ALL costs, including wear and tear and machine maintenance and eventual replacement. Consider for example, the cost of power to run it when you're talking running a 12 amp machine 12-18 hours per day. You're going to have to replace bearings and other parts, you have to get rid of sawdust and have excellent sawdust collection, and you'll need a few really good conventional tools and saws with premium blades. Don't forget a properly set up finishing area, and if you have an employee, you're subject to OSHA rules, and you'll WANT an accountant to make sure you comply with tax regulations.
Those are costs of doing business that will add up pretty quick, and your price has to pay for all that. Otherwise, it's a hobby.
Which is not to say there's anything wrong with a hobby with maybe 6-8 really good customers per year. Which won't produce much of a living, but a nice second income. Just keep those prices UP!
Hope we're not just talking with the already converted here. I know that I won't buy a CNC unless I decide to make some decent money from it. Making money isn't all that hard. Beside that, it would take up the space remaining in the garage, and my wife would not go along with parking the car outside. I'd have to have a workshop built or plan to be single again. Lots of factors come into play for me, and for anyone considering a CNC move.