Documenting repeatable processes for anything you will do more than once is essential to your sanity.
Process is King
Documenting repeatable processes for anything you will do more than once is essential to your sanity. It’s true; you can fly by the seat of your pants and get by, but it makes you a hostage to your work. If you’ve ever been a manager you probably like process and understand its benefits. If you’re a developer you probably dislike process or see it as a necessary evil. Startups, being lean and mean, seem like the perfect place to eliminate documents, have no systems, and no processes…but that’s far from the truth. Without process it’s impossible to delegate, difficult to bring on a business partner, and easy to make mistakes. With processes in place it’s much easier to sell your product if/when you want to make an exit. The fact is, creating processes will bring you freedom through the ability to easily automate and outsource tasks.
Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup by Rob Walling
The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it.
Why self-publish, then? The answer is that self-publishing enables you to determine your own fate. There’s no need to endure the frustration of finding and working with a publisher. You can maintain control over your book and its marketing, receive a greater percentage of revenues, and retain all rights and ownership.
A successful self-publisher must fill three roles: Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur—or APE
The first good reason to write a book is to add value to people’s lives.
Will your book add value to people’s lives? This is a severe test, but if your answer is affirmative, there’s no doubt that you should write a book.
The second good reason to write a book is the same reason I play hockey: to master a new skill, not to make money.
In my book (pun intended), a book should be an end, not a means to an end. Even if no one reads your book, you can write it for the sake of writing it. Memoirs, for example, fit in this category. And the number of people who want to read a book of such a pure origin may surprise you. Good Reason.
The third good reason to write a book is to evangelize a cause. A cause seeks to either end something bad (pollution, abuse, bigotry) or perpetuate something good (beauty, peace, affection). Silent Spring by Rachel Carson is an example. Her cause was the environment, and her book resulted in the ban of DDT and catalyzed the start of the environmental movement.
(The fourth readon is that ) Writing is therapeutic. It helps you cope with issues that seem gargantuan at the time. The process of expressing yourself about a problem, editing your thoughts, and writing some more can help you control issues that you face.
APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki, Shawn Welch
The simple tools you need to start being a Maker and to create your own business from products you design
I loved this book.
Makers by Chris Anderson is one of my favorite books of 2012.
This is the final bit from it, I would recommend you buy a copy and get started creating a business.
So in this appendix, I’ll (Chris Anderson) give a guide to starting with that, using the best recommended tools as of this writing.
Getting started with CAD Why?
All digital design revolves around software. Whether you’re downloading designs or creating them from scratch, you’ll typically need to use some sort of desktop authoring program to work with the design onscreen. CAD programs range from the free and relatively easy Google SketchUp to complex multithousand-dollar packages such as Solidworks and AutoCAD used by engineers and architects.
Recommended 2-D drawing programs
• Free option: Inkscape (Windows and Mac)
• Paid option: Adobe Illustrator (Windows and Mac)
Recommended 3-D drawing programs
• Free options: Google SketchUp (Windows and Mac), Autodesk 123D (Windows), TinkerCAD (Web)
• Paid option: Solidworks (Windows
Recommended 3-D printing solutions
• Printers: MakerBot Replicator (best community), Ultimaker (bigger, faster, more expensive)
• Services: Shapeways, Ponoko
Recommended 3-D scanning solutions
• Software: Free Autodesk 123D Catch (iPad; Windows)
• Hardware: MakerBot 3-D scanner (requires a webcam and pico projector). Use the free Meshlab software to clean up the image
All in all, I recommend that you either do your laser cutting at a local makerspace such as TechShop, or send it to a service bureau that can also source the raw material for you cheaply.
Recommended CNC Solutions
• Hobby-sized (Dremel tool): MyDIYCNC
• Semi-pro: ShopBot Desktop
How to start being a Maker in electronics
This is the emerging “Internet of Things,” and it starts with simple electronics such as the Arduino physical computing board. All you really need to get started with digital electronics is an Arduino starter kit, a multimeter, and a decent soldering iron.
There has never been a better time to find what you need, and companies such as Sparkfun and Adafruit offer not only all the parts you’ll need, but also tutorials,
If you want to take it further, you can get a digital logic analyzer, a USB oscilloscope, and a fancy solder rework station. But for starting, the items listed below will take you further than you may have thought possible.
Recommended electronics gear
• Starter kit: Adafruit budget Arduino kit
• Soldering iron: Weller WES51 soldering station
• Multimeter: Sparkfun digital multimeter
Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson
This second option is a future where the Maker Movement is more about self-sufficiency—making stuff for our own use—than it is about building businesses. It is one that hews even closer to the original ideals of the Homebrew Computer Club and The Whole Earth Catalog.
The idea, then, was not to create big companies, but rather to free ourselves from big companies.
This hearkens back to the Israeli kibbutz model of self-sufficiency, which was forged in a period of need and philosophical belief in collective action, or to Gandhi’s model of village industrial independence in India.
Of course we’re not all going to grow our own food or easily give up the virtues of a well-stocked shopping mall. But in a future where more things can be fabricated on demand, as opposed to manufactured, shipped, stored, and sold, you can see the opportunity for an industrial economy.
Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson
The info-business does not require talent, just an understanding of your market and a little work. I had no idea how many possible ways there are to create an information product, it reminds me of the Friends episose where they tried to name all 50 states from memory.
Not so easy.
41 Types of Information Products
Paper and Ink
1. Reports—one to eight pages, addressing specialized topics
2. Tip sheets—one page, very specialized, very how-to, no fluff
3. Manuals—usually published in loose-leaf notebook or spiral-bound format
5. Boxed sets of books
6. Home study courses—may include printed product with other types (e.g., audio, video)
7. Tests and quizzes—self-scoring or computer-scoring
8. Seminar or speech transcripts
10. Back issues of newsletters or reports
11. Other continuity products, such as “Book a Month”
12. Sets of cards (e.g., reminder cards, recipe cards)
13. Forms (e.g., time management systems, step-by-step processes)
15. Multi-author publications (several authors contribute to one product; each gets to sell it)
Audio and Video
16. Audiotapes—live recorded speeches, seminars, consultations
17. Audiotapes—how-to instructions, usually studio recorded
18. Audiotapes—interviews, conversations, roundtable discussions
19. Audiotapes—collections of radio broadcasts
20. Audiotapes—interactive, with a workbook
21. Audiotapes—subliminal, self-hypnosis, etc.
22. Videotapes—live-recorded speeches, seminars, consultations
23. Videotapes—how-to instructions
24. Videotapes—interviews, conversations, roundtable discussions
25. Videotapes—interactive, with a workbook
26. E-book—book delivered electronically over the internet
27. Download—customer downloads manuals and audio over the internet after purchase
28. Online videos—entire products are now often delivered through online videos either made using screen shots of PowerPoint presentations or through live-action videos of a live seminar or someone teaching in front of a camera
29. Membership site—customers are allowed to access information on password-protected website
30. Structured lessons—customers are led through a series of lessons; may include examinations
31. Trainer kits—multimedia, for use in conducting classes, workshops, etc.
33. Devices (e.g., stress card)
35. Computer software
36. “Packages”—of a variety of related information products, offered at a special price
37. Continuity programs involving multiple-information products, multiple media
38. Services—tied to memberships or purchases or used as premiums
39. Customized—to different markets, different clients/users
40. Private-labeled—for other marketers, users
Official Get Rich Guide to Information Marketing: Build a Million Dollar Business Within 12 Months by Robert Skrob
Digital Product Pricing - focus your efforts on making money as soon as possible than on borrowing startup capital
As we’ve seen, it’s usually much more important to focus your efforts on making money as soon as possible than on borrowing startup capital.
The more I focus on these things, the better off I am.
In short, they are as follows:
1. Price your product or service in relation to the benefit it provides, not the cost of producing it.
2. Offer customers a limited range of prices.
3. Get paid more than once for the same thing.
Principle 1: Base Prices on Benefits, Not Costs
In Chapter 2, we looked at benefits versus features. Remember that a feature is descriptive (“These clothes fit well and look nice”) and a benefit is the value someone receives from the item in question (“These clothes make you feel healthy and attractive”). We tend to default to talking about features, but since most purchases are emotional decisions, it’s much more persuasive to talk about benefits.
Just as you should usually place more emphasis on the benefits of your offering than on the features, you should think about basing the price of your offer on the benefit—not the actual cost or the amount of time it takes to create, manufacture, or fulfill what you are selling.
Principle 2: Offer a (Limited) Range of Prices
Choosing an initial price for your service that is based on the benefit provided to customers is the most important principle to ensure profitability. But to create optimum profitability or at least to build more cushion into your business model, you’ll next want to present more than one price for your offer.
The key to this strategy is to offer a limited range of prices: not so many as to create confusion but enough to provide buyers with a legitimate choice. Notice the important distinction that naturally happens when you offer a choice: Instead of asking them whether they’d like to buy your widget, you’re asking which widget they would like to buy.
Principle 3: Get Paid More Than Once
The final strategy for making sure your business gets off to a good start is to ensure that your payday doesn’t come along only once—you’d much rather have repeated paydays, from the same customers, over and over on a reliable basis. You may have heard of the terms continuity program, membership site, and subscriptions. They all mean roughly the same thing: getting paid over and over by the same customers, usually for ongoing access to a service or regular delivery of a product.
(Note: Don’t get too hung up on the exact numbers here. The point is that in almost every case, a recurring billing model will produce much more income over time than will a single-sale model.)
The key to this model is not market share. It’s share of the customer. And to gain more of each customer’s budget, you first have to zealously treat every customer as a “best” customer, no matter which ones actually end up becoming the proverbial “customer for life.”
The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau
One of the first mistakes budding Makers make when they start to sell their product is not charging enough. It’s easy to see why, for all sorts of reasons. They want the product to be popular, and they know the lower the price, the more it will sell. Some may even feel that if the product was created with community volunteer help, it would be unseemly to charge more than it costs. Such thinking may be understandable, but it’s wrong. Making a reasonable profit is the only way to build a sustainable business. Let me give you an example. You make one hundred units of your delightful laser-cut handcrank toy Drummer Boy. Between the wood, the laser cutting, the hardware, the box, and
the instructions, it costs you $20 to make each one. Let’s say you price them at $25 just to cover any costs you may have missed, and start selling.
Since it’s a fun kit and pretty cheap, it sells quickly. You suddenly realize that you’ve got to do it all again, this time in a batch of one thousand. Rather than putting up a couple thousand dollars to buy the materials, you’ve got to put up tens of thousands of dollars. Instead of packing the kits in your spare time, you’ve got to hire someone to do it. You need to rent space to store all the boxes, and you’ve got to make daily trips to FedEx. Now your hobby is starting to feel like a real job. Worse, the popularity of your kit has come to the attention of some big online retailers, and they’re asking about buying in batches of one hundred, with a volume wholesale discount. You’re thrilled that your kit is so popular and flattered that these retailers, who can reach many more people than your own website, want to sell it. But if you’re selling it at $25, that’s the market price—the retailers typically can’t sell it for more. The retailers ask for a lower price because they need to make their own profit on each one, usually around 50 percent. So they need to buy them at no more than $17 each. But that would mean you are selling each one at a loss! Your costs, which were once within the limits of hobby spending, are now at risk of driving you and your business into debt. What entrepreneurs quickly learn is that they need to price their product at least 2.3 times its cost to allow for at least one 50 percent margin for them and another 50 percent margin for their retailers (1.5 × 1.5 = 2.25). That first 50 percent margin for the entrepreneur is really mostly covering the hidden costs of doing business at a scale that they hadn’t thought of when they first started, from the employees that they didn’t think they’d have to hire to the insurance they didn’t think they’d need to take out and the customer support and returns they never expected. And the 50 percent margin for the third-party retailers is just the way the retail market works. (Most companies actually base their model on a 60 percent margin, which would lead to a 2.6x multiplier, but I’m applying a bit of a discount to capture that initial Maker altruism and growth accelerant.) In other words, that $20 kit should have been priced at $46, not $25. It may sound steep to you now, but if businesses don’t get the price right at the start, they won’t be able to keep making their products, and everyone loses. It’s the difference between a hobby and a real, thriving, profitable business.
Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson
Chris Anderson announced today he was leaving editing Wired magazine to go run his electronics business. As I read about it in his book Makers I not only see why, but I get jealous.
"It was time to start our own factory. I started a proper company, 3D Robotics, with a partner, Jordi Muñoz (of whom much more later). In a rented Los Angeles garage, Muñoz started building our own mini Sparkfun. Rather than a pick-and-place robot, we had a kid with sharp eyes and a steady hand, and for a reflow oven we used what was basically a modified toaster oven. We could do scores of boards per day this way. As demand picked up, we outgrew the garage. Muñoz moved the operation to commercial space in an industrial park in San Diego, which was nearer the low-cost labor center of Tijuana.
In came real automated manufacturing tools: first a small pick-and-place machine, then a bigger one, and finally an even bigger one with automated component feeders. The toaster oven gave way to a proper automated reflow oven with a nitrogen cooling system for perfect temperature control. And for that we needed a nitrogen generator, of course. And so it went, with more and more professional tools, which Muñoz and his team learned to use by finding tutorials on the Web. By this time we had outgrown the first space and expanded to a bigger space next door. Then we outgrew that, too, and today 3D Robotics has a factory that sprawls over twelve thousand square feet and a second one of nearly the same size in Tijuana. The facilities are buzzing with robotic assembly machines run by factory workers, and teams of engineers developing new products. Pick-and-place robots build circuit boards, which are baked in automated reflow ovens temperature-regulated by a nitrogen generator. Laser cutters, 3-D printers, and CNC machines make quadcopter parts.
These are real factories now, just three years after Muñoz started hand-assembling boards on his kitchen table with a soldering iron. From Maker to millions In our first year, we did about $250,000 in revenue; by 2011, our third year, we had broken $3 million. In 2012 we’re on track to break $5 million in revenues. Growth continues at about 75 to 100 percent per year, which is common for open-source hardware companies like ours. We’ve been profitable from the first year (it’s actually not that hard in the hardware business—just charge more than your costs!), but try to reinvest as much of the profits as possible into building new factory lines. Because we’re online, we’re global from the start and tend to grow more quickly than traditional manufacturing companies because of the network effects of online word of mouth. But because we’re making hardware, which costs money and takes time to make, we don’t show the hockey-stick exponential growth curve of the hottest Web companies. So, as a business, we’re a hybrid: the simple business model and cash-flow advantages of traditional manufacturing, with the marketing and reach advantages of a Web company. We’re still a small business, but the difference between our kind of small business and the dry cleaners and corner shops that make up the majority of micro-enterprise in the country is that we’re Web-centric and global. We’re competing in the international market from day one."
Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson
This is just a great book, reading in parts so can stop and think about what I am learning. This is a great example of why social networks have so much power.
"I set up DIYDrones.com as a social network (on the Ning platform), not as a blog (so 2004!). That distinction—a site created as a community, not a one-man news and information site like a blog—turned out to make all the difference. Like all good social networks, every participant, not just the creator, has access to the full range of authoring tools: along with the usual commenting, they can compose their own blog posts, start discussions, upload videos and pictures, and create profile pages and send messages to one another. Community members can be made moderators, to encourage good behavior and discourage bad.
What this meant was that the site wasn’t just about me or my ideas. Instead, it was about anyone who chose to participate. And right from the start, that was almost everyone. The site was soon full of people trading ideas and reports of their own projects and research."
Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson
Check out the website mentioned. http://diydrones.com/
Need Product ideas?
Learn to find where to check:
First find local sources such as:
library used book stores
What do you like and buy?
What does your family and friends like and buy?
Get products from different niches.
People often forget what is unique about their part of the world. They see the things around them everyday, walk past it, until it becomes part of the background noise, lost.
Stop. Look around you. What is there that no one else has?
I have traveled and I know that every area of the world has its own unique flavor, its own food, clothes, spices, toys, and they have access to items that no one else has. These items are also cheaper there than anywhere. What is common with you is uncommon a thousand miles away.
So stop for a moment and think about the area you are in, what is unique about your area. What can you get there that others in the world cannot?
Those items are worth more in other parts of the world than where you are, and they will pay more than you currently pay. These items cheap to you can be sold for more money to others elsewhere in the world.
Stop the self editing for a moment, stop the how to questions, and just think of the item. What value does it have for others?
“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.
— Charles T. Munger”
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Disclosure of Material Connection:
Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”