Thanks- you've laid out a lot of the reasons why I'm leaning either towards a probotix or a sharpeoko pro, when it becomes available, at this point. The difference in cost would be a little more than 2k, all accessories included.
This is good to know re: the shark. The free spindle is only with the larger machines. I'd be more tempted if it were the less expensive models- I'm not sure I want to commit $4k to a 24x24 machine limited to 1/4" shanks. And shark does not offer a tool adjustment device, unlike both shapeoko and probotix.
As has been noted a few times here and in a much longer thread, making a business out of cnc routing is like other fields with low barriers to entry- it's contingent upon vigorous effort in sales, building a client base, and developing products that meet a market demand. There's just too much competition to put out some attractive decorations and expect the people to be beating down your etsy door.
I think I need to prove to myself that I have the capacity to design and conceive of projects well enough to generate enough revenue to pay off a production-worthy machine (which the probotix would be at the very low end).
At a 3k price point of something like the shapeoko, I have enough projects just around the house that I'll feel good about recouping that investment no matter what.
So I'm going to focus on my designs and learning at this point, and see if I can get to the point where I can justify a 7-10k production-oriented machine.
I'm only familiar with sketchup at this point- is it a good idea to do my modeling in another program to learn it? Or is importing sketchup designs into CAM software down the line (like vcarve or fusion) a viable approach long-term? I'm happy to make my software purchase before my hardware purchase since I'm leaning so strongly against the shark for an initial device.