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I am on Tom's side on this. Marketing makes all the difference, and I don't mean high pressure sales. 39 years selling for a living has honed those skills and they can not be shrugged off as a small part of what you do if you want to grow. There are lots of books on the topic, Tom has suggested a good one. With out those skills you will be floating around in word of mouth world and saddled with low prices that don't reflect what you do.

The other part of this conversation that warrants further exploration is what does "making a good living" mean in dollars an cents. In my case, after 40 years in the corporate world, most of my finances are covered for retirement... So making $40000 a year out of my garage shop now allows me to transition away from the corporate umbrella 5 to 7 years ahead of the plan. But $40000 a year would not have covered the costs of raising our 4 kids, and the balance of our life style.

In June we will bill close to $16000 almost all of it off our 48 x 96' CNCRPT machine. This is our peak season so not typical, but all of it was designed and produced in the last 5 weeks. I work many late evenings and weekends, many folks wont do that, but I truly find this to be a like a vacation. I use very few Clipart models, and most of my designs are mine alone and custom to match a customers imagination.. .. so competition is slim.

My $10k machine is bolted together from a kit, does not have a vacuum table, or auto tool changers. We own an art gallery on a high way to a national park, and i have sold art as a side business for 30 plus years up here.. so that provides some momentum that a newby would lack. I also still work 3 to 4 days in corporate world.

So pick what you want from your one CNC machine. They can certainly pay for themselves with a bit of word of mouth and a few shows each year if you do quality work. Beyond that, i am convinced that $100000 k out of our garage is doable ...... if you want to work, and learn to sell. Having said that... our operation is open 5 months per year and than we go to online selling and a much lighter winter duty.. so our current plans are not to go full speed.... but i sure wish i had started this when i was 40..
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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Great info, Scott. What are you making that allows you to bill that much in a month? My woodworking frequently involves a lot of detail work on one-offs and commission work and some of it commands a higher price but quantity is low; I'm billing 1/10 that on an average month but I probably stay just as busy with nights and weekends. Granted, I'm just getting started and have only just begun to do any marketing although I too have been in sales/marketing for 25+ years so I know how important that is. But we don't have a store front and have yet to kick off our Etsy shop so most of my work is for a couple of shops and people in town.

Thanks!
David
 

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Great info, Scott. What are you making that allows you to bill that much in a month? My woodworking frequently involves a lot of detail work on one-offs and commission work and some of it commands a higher price but quantity is low; I'm billing 1/10 that on an average month but I probably stay just as busy with nights and weekends. Granted, I'm just getting started and have only just begun to do any marketing although I too have been in sales/marketing for 25+ years so I know how important that is. But we don't have a store front and have yet to kick off our Etsy shop so most of my work is for a couple of shops and people in town.

Thanks!
David
Hi Dave

Most of what we sell is what i would loosely classify as Cabin signs. 24" x 24" 3D painted, carved outdoor themed name signs. These sell in the $200 to $300 range. Moose, bears, salmon, loons, Alaskana stuff.. etc. 10 or so each month.

Than salt that with a few 36 " to 72" signs that run $600 to $1200.

Like Tom mentioned we also end up with some business that i call B to B. business to business. Bed and breakfasts, lodges, and tourist shops that want signature pieces. These are larger CNC pieces like carved benches, and Bed headboards. Again, $500 to $2000.

On the bottom end is simple routered name signs. I charge $40 for a 24 x 6" raised letter sign with a family name or address. Spray it black, run it through a planner.. done.. these a great place to up sell to something with 3 D and maybe even a painted sign.

I keep a stock of cribbage boards in the store any one for $89. I also have dozens of Carved panels in the store for customers. a few CNC puzzle games, rod holders, coat racks. A store makes it easy to have a broad range of stuff around ... and it keeps my interest up.

Than occasionally we get a bigger pieces. I just finished a 34' carved Mural for a local Childern's library.. they had an association with a solid budget and wanted to add some bright colors to the 3 archways entering the library. We get a few big commissions each year that run $3000 to $8ooo.

If you find us on Facebook at Willow Creek gallery.. you can see much of what we sell. I also use FB extensively to market.. Way more sales come from that than our Web Page.. Not in Etsy yet, but headed there..
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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Thanks so much, Scott. Those are markets I have yet to explore though I've thought of going after some locally and regionally here in the Ark-LA-Tex. We don't have the range of Bed & Breakfast locations here like y'all do but that doesn't mean I can't find other avenues for sales. Of course, our 2x4 CNC won't let us do near the size of signs and projects you can but I've managed to keep it busy enough - just need to find more.

David
 

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Rick
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Thank you for starting this thread Tom, and thank you all for sharing your Knowledge, as I may have to really pay attention now .

I just had a major curve ball thrown at me , as I’m about to get laid off after 30 years of service , and never seen it coming. How I would have done things differantly had I known this was coming .
If all goes well , there will be severance pay. My health is not great , as I’m down to one eye , and that puts a guy out of all the decent paying jobs , like the mines etc.
I’d be lucky to get a job around here that pays minimum wage and 32 hours a week . No one wants full time employees anymore, as then they have to pay benefits .

My idea was to invest in a cnc like Scott’s , and take a chance on that . Hopefully I don’t end up putting myself in a worse position.
If I could make a little better imcome than a job that pays minimum wage I’d be happy . And I’d actually enjoy what I’m doing ,and don’t have to make 60K a year to survive . I don’t mind Kraft dinner lol .
I was debating to splice fibre , but the local company here really prefers younger guys , so I think that’s out . I hate routine anyways , so that occupation would drive me crazy at best .

My coworkers think I’m nuts investing in a cnc router table , but I believe it may be my savour.
This is certainly a tough one
 

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Good luck with your career change, I have faith in you!

A friend of mine down here bought a laser engraver after he got laid off, that was 9 years ago, he's cranking out trophies, name tags and personalized yeti. I don't know how great of living he's making off it but he has a store front now and a few employees, so it's not too bad.

I left IBM 10 years ago to become handyman. Now I'm a master handyman with an apprentice, who's now capable of running most jobs himself.
 

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Rick
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Good luck with your career change, I have faith in you!

A friend of mine down here bought a laser engraver after he got laid off, that was 9 years ago, he's cranking out trophies, name tags and personalized yeti. I don't know how great of living he's making off it but he has a store front now and a few employees, so it's not too bad.

I left IBM 10 years ago to become handyman. Now I'm a master handyman with an apprentice, who's now capable of running most jobs himself.
Thanks for your words of encouragement Everend.
The more I think about it , I have the best people in the world right here at this very forum to mentor me . :smile:
Looks like my garage is getting insulated whether I like it or not lol
 

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hey Rick, sorry to hear about your pending layoff. If you don't find anything, you can always come down to Ontario and caddy for me on the golf course. Can't promise I'll pay you but you'll get the occasional beer on me. And the upside is, you won't have to worry too much about insulation, cause we're slightly warmer in the winter than you are.
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 · (Edited)
Hey @RainMan 2.0, sorry to hear about the layoff. However, not many things get you going faster than that kind of event. But resources get scarce pretty fast if you delay your start up. You have to give it all you've got, and it is rare that a business starts producing much at the very first. Start the marketing effort NOW by identifying some of the same potential clients that the folks have been talking about. Get your CNC while you're able to finance it. Spend daytime hours marketing (research, making contacts, etc), and evenings and nights learning the program and producing samples. Photo the samples and put up a facebook page. Survey the members to work on a company name (ask Oliver for his opinion).

Work on a way to say what you do, what you have to offer, in less than 45 seconds. It takes some thought and effort. Don't rely on low prices to sell, or you won't make it through long enough to be successful. Keep records, all your miles, all your costs are deductable busieness expenses and you want to offset as much income with expense as the tax code allows.

I'm always willing to put in my thoughts and I'm cheering for you. Just give it all you've got, starting right NOW! You'll find a lot of leads in the ads in local and regional publications, Look for interesting logos you can use to make samples, and then take that sample with you when you go there. Don't buy a starter machine that won't let you cut something a little larger. In the USA, we have something called the Small Business Administration mentor programs, retired business people who volunteer to help folks start their businesses--but don't get too hung up on making a business plan and setting up accounting. You're going into a pretty simple business with a well defined market. You'll need to set up some simple contracts and forms for working up the visuals (They sign to indicate their approval). Don't make your contract long and complex. If someone wants to stiff you, they will regardless of the complexity of the contract. Too many CYAs in a contract cause people to shy away.

Stay in phone contact, fax or email materials, start an email list as outlined in the little book (Your First 1,000 copies) on Amazon https://www.amazon.ca/Your-First-Co...505043&sr=8-1&keywords=your+first+1000+copies

Set up your facebook page right away (By Saturday after choosing your company name. You will need to get a DBA (ficticious company name) to open a bank account. Set up with a credit card processing account with the settlement going direct to your bank account. You'll probably only need the card reading capability if you do shows or fairs (which would be a very low priority for me).

Set up with Constant Contact to manage your email list. You can have a small list free. They only let you add people who consent to receive emails. I think you can add a sign up box to your facebook page (I can't remember) Our signup is on every page of our website (which is very simple).

But most of your effor needs to go to getting marketing going (days) and gaining skill with the CNC (nights). No vacations for awhile Rick. You'll probably find that your costs will be low for some time. You should have business cards, but even better, a little pocket notebook so you can collect information about your potential customers. Handing out cards is almost entirely non productive, but they expect you to at least have one.

Start collecting pictures of your production so you can show them off on a website. At first, you can make a few signs on speculation or even for free for a few very local companies so you can put up a recognizable name or logo. The effort you put in now pays off, but if you don't give it all you've got, then you don't really have much chance, because delay will eat up your money. Sometimes you can get a little part time job, but only on the weekend if you do that, so your weekdays are open for marketing, sales calls, design and deliveries.

Go man, Go!
 

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Hey Rick, I'm really sorry to hear that. But this may end up being the greatest blessing in disguise! I listened to one of Bill Griggs podcast/YouTube videos, He had a guy on there who lost everything in hurricane Katrina and with the last of his resources, He bought a CNC.... It had
a happy ending! Good luck and I can't wait till next year when you're on here bragging about all the work you've been doing!
 

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Rick
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Sorry to hear about your situation Rick. Will say a prayer that things work out in the long run for you.
Thanks JJ . I pretty much created my own mess here . I had every chance to do things right, but messed it up royally . I seriously had no idea this was coming, and was hoping to stay with them till my mid 60’s.
Saying that though, I’ve been wanting a change . So maybe this is a blessing in disguise.




Thanks Joe. This is to funny , as I wrote the same thing you did before I knew you posted. Thanks , as that’s gotta be a sign right there lol
Hey Rick, I'm really sorry to hear that. But this may end up being the greatest blessing in disguise! I listened to one of Bill Griggs podcast/YouTube videos, He had a guy on there who lost everything in hurricane Katrina and with the last of his resources, He bought a CNC.... It had
a happy ending! Good luck and I can't wait till next year when you're on here bragging about all the work you've been doing!
 

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Rick
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hey Rick, sorry to hear about your pending layoff. If you don't find anything, you can always come down to Ontario and caddy for me on the golf course. Can't promise I'll pay you but you'll get the occasional beer on me. And the upside is, you won't have to worry too much about insulation, cause we're slightly warmer in the winter than you are.
Thanks Charley . That Beer invite sounds awfully tempting lol .



And Tom , thank you for the advice, much appreciated! I will certainly make a very hard effort at this . I talked to my tax lady down the street, and she thinks this startup company is a great idea . It’s funny as when I talked to her she also mentioned establishing a business name. . I’ll think of one once my head clears , and I’m out of shock :)

I have to say guys , it’s almost like divine intervention that I’m here at this forum , as I had no idea my life would go this direction when I joined here .
Funny how things work out
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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Hey Rick,

So sorry to hear that happened but if you'll recall, that very thing happened to me two years ago. The technology company I worked for pulled up stakes and left Louisiana. Now, I could have moved to Mississippi or Alabama to one of the corporate offices and kept on plugging away but I didn't want to do that. So Sandy and I decided that we'd do a few years early what we had planned when I hit 65 (still not there) and that was for me to do woodworking out of our house. I just really didn't want to go find another technology job for a few years.

We built the CNC, I started drumming up business, and I'm staying pretty busy. This year I'll do some serious marketing and sales just like I did for 25+ years in the technology sector. Tom's advice is spot on and we're eager to grow our little slice of the pie here in our area.

If there's any way I can help just give me a call - we haven't talked in a while anyway.

David
 

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Hey Rick, I'm sorry that you have to go through the trauma of an unexpected layoff, but I'll bet that if you follow Tom's advice and that of others here, it will end up being a blessing in disguise. I'd be willing to bet that 99% of us here are pulling for ya too!
Now, think of a business name! My suggestion, just to get you started -- UIG Enterprises...with UIG meaning "uninsulated garage"? LOL
 

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Rick, what a shock, for sure. But, you'll persevere and everything will turn out for the best.
Count me in Ken's 99% cause I'm pulling for ya, too. And, you've already got a head start just by making the decision to go it alone. In a couple years, you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner.
Look forward, keep your goals topmost in your mind and never give up.
 
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Rick
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Thank you guys , I really mean it. I’m in shock and am having a hard time wiping tears away when I read your posts .
As I mentioned, I brought this upon myself ,as I didn’t really see an end . If things go well , the company is being very generous with there buy outs . This was a voluntary lay off, as I had a choice , but the alternative left a lot of questions, so it was time to move on .
I will always love the company ,and will always be available if the new guys have issues trouble shooting .

Anyways on a positive one, I know a former Marine from the USA that said something that has always resonated with me .
“Improvise, Adapt and Overcome”
 

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Rick,

take what you can get til you fall into something, be it woodworking or something else. Just go with the flow and you'll fall into something that'll work. Don't overlook anything.

You won't get rich with a CNC, but you might be a whole lot happier.

Never did I ever think I would carve Polish Eagles for a profit and attend Polish Festivals. It just takes one good idea, product, or the right person to cross your path.

And you know you can always call on any number of us, if only to talk.

Scott ........ we might have just found your summer intern. lol
 

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Rick
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Rick,

take what you can get til you fall into something, be it woodworking or something else. Just go with the flow and you'll fall into something that'll work. Don't overlook anything.

You won't get rich with a CNC, but you might be a whole lot happier.

Never did I ever think I would carve Polish Eagles for a profit and attend Polish Festivals. It just takes one good idea, product, or the right person to cross your path.

And you know you can always call on any number of us, if only to talk.

Scott ........ we might have just found your summer intern. lol
Thanks John. I know a guys not getting rich by any means , but I was hoping to make enough to keep my head above water . I just can’t see a future at HomeDepot lol.
I enjoy things that are cnc and wood related ,so this seems like a viable option
 

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Great thread guys. I just caught up on what is going on.

Building a CNC business is no only possible it is probable if you follow proven methods that others have used. Get an audible account and start listening to books about starting a business while you are working in the shop. Get your mindset aligned for success. Start listening to John Saunders and John Grimsm's podcast, "The Business of CNC". Read Pat Flynn's book "Will It Fly?" Follow what he says a find your first product/business idea.

Then execute your plan like you have a rocket booster strapped to your bottom.

Best wishes.

Bill
 
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