From Shopbot Wiki

ShopBots in Businesses:

For many ShopBotters, owning a ShopBot is a business proposition. Sure, a lot of ShopBots are used as production tools in manufacturing environments and as small components of a bigger business. At the other extreme, an increasing number of non-commercial ShopBots are being used for hobby, home, or D-I-Y projects. However, many ShopBots are purchased as the centerpiece around which a small business will be organized.

But encouraging such enterprises carries with it both responsibilities and concerns. Yes, of course we think our tools are pretty amazing, but they aren’t magic. Not everyone is cut out for running a business and we worry about getting people excited about something they aren’t right for or aren’t ready for. It would be nice if simply putting a ShopBot in someone’s hands made them into a successful entrepreneur. But ShopBots are, in the final analysis, just amazing tools. Those who are successful with their own new ShopBot businesses probably would have been successful without a ShopBot. ShopBots just facilitate their ability to be innovative, creative, and productive.

That said, from the beginnings of ShopBot, we have wondered what we could be doing to provide information, advice, resources, and assistance to this group of ShopBotters who are considering building businesses around our tools or who are already in the process. In some cases, such resources might provide some reality testing, in others maybe just a little edge to help reach success. Here's what we've been up to:

ShopBot Business Resources:

Camps and the Jamboree. Last year’s Jamboree included numerous talks from ShopBotters with unique business stories and adventures, well captured in the name of Jillian Northrup’s and Jeffrey McGrew’s ShopBot business, “Because We Can”(Jillian and Jeffrey were last seen at the Austin Maker Faire showing off their portable “Art Golf” miniature golf course. The Jamboree also featured a session on the marketing of CNC products.

Even if they offered nothing else, the show-and-tell sessions at Camps and Jamborees offer a cornucopia of great business ideas and examples of entrepreneurial inventiveness. There are ideas, and more importantly there is inspiration in seeing what others have done. Also at Camps and Jamborees, there are incredible opportunities to learn about how others are approaching making money with CNC. You might think that people would keep their good ideas to themselves, but they don’t. There is an incredible openness and sharing of information and experiences, both about how they make things, and how they manage their businesses. I think this is because ShopBotters are not as interested in the specifics of what others are selling, as in the problem-solving involved in getting something efficiently produced and successfully sold.

ShopBot Trainings. Trainings at ShopBot turn out to be a great time to learn about how other ShopBotters handle business matters. The trainings are not actually oriented to business issues, but you will meet people from all over who are engaged in many types of business. There are lots of opportunities to learn about what they are doing or what they are planning to do – people in the same boat as you, and people a little further along.

Materials on ShopBot Website

The Talk ShopBot Forum. The Forum is the place to interact over ideas and to get help with your plans or reactions to what you are trying to do with your business. It’s an online business roundtable. Go right to the business section. It’s OK to lurk for awhile. But don’t hesitate to jump in and ask your question or make your comment. It goes without saying that there are no dumb questions. This is a place where you can get a dialogue going.

This ShopBot Wiki Section. The Forum is for interaction, but this ShopBot Wiki is the place for content and resources. We’ve just started it, but ShopBotters are helping making the best and most appropriate business information available here. Please use the Wiki, and when you get comfortable with it, contribute the information and information sources that have been most useful to you. It’s thin now, but with help we hope to make it incredibly useful. [If you aren’t familiar with the Wiki concept, read the introductory material to get the idea.]

Local Business Resources:

If you need help with the basic business ideas, check out your local community or technical college. For example, Durham Tech has a Small Business Resource center that offers a North Carolina based program called Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning (REAL). The 5 week session covers legal issues, insurance concerns, and how to create a business plan. Several ShopBotters report that the program has helped them get organized, even if it only made them sit down and actually plan for their business.

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