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No FUN, Breaking the Rules?

breakrulesI broke my own business rule and decided to invest time and money into “me too” products in my The Hobbyist Machine Store.  A “me too” product is a non proprietary item purchased at dealer discount and then offered for sale near the retail “street” price which is always less than the factory price.

The problem is I am just one of many other “dealers”, including the factory that sells the exact same product. So that makes me a “me too” dealer. Where is the “fun” in that?

If you have ever watched “The Shark Tank”, a TV program where very small businesses try to convince business “sharks” to invest money in their product and company, I don’t even qualify for a first interview. My problem is I don’t offer anything (as a product) that is truly unique.

Every successful entrepreneur has an idea or a new product that they totally control. They start small and grow because they have control of both the supply and sales side. A “me too’” doesn’t have that ability.

So I am literally paying the price for breaking my own business rule. I should be advertising my business and not other people’s products, but my present business plan is to offer the same products which are available from many other sources. I have limited “value added” that I can provide.

I sell mostly small items (bits and pieces) for low profit with a lot of administration time and cost. I really don’t have a good business plan as far as product choice. Bigger ticket (more costly) items help but are slow moving in a hobbyist market. Price really drives the decision making of the hobbyist customer. I offered a quality lathe for several years in the +$2K range and sold less than a half dozen per year. Not worth stocking.

It’s time for me to make a change. I feel I am not on the right track. Pure retail resale works very well for large well stocked and multiple product line retail stores. I don’t have enough items and variety to really make a profit in reselling standard products. I am not having a lot of fun either…

The door will stay open for awhile longer on The Hobbyist Machine Store. I am presently promoting a large ticket item of around $1K in price. It is a Taig CNC micro-milling machine. The only value added service I can provide is to have them in stock. Taig (factory) doesn’t stock inventory so drop shipments are notoriously slow.

But I can’t afford to tie up cash resources in a slow moving high cost item until I can determine demand. I am in a bit of a “catch 22” with a fickle retail market. I am unwilling to make a big cash investment until I can prove there is a fast moving market.

So I am now taking initial steps to move my business efforts to a small creative manufacturing operation using the machines, tools and assets in which I have already invested within my workshop.

I want to become more creative and produce items of lasting value that are totally my efforts. No more selling “me too” price fixed merchandise. Custom and one of a kind feels like an enjoyable plan to me. No plan to become a zillionair, just a plan to enjoy what I like and put the fun back into what I do.

 

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