The Biz-ness #2

31 03 2010

Entering the business……The big one.

You have a passion and love for what you’ll be doing, and strongly believe — based on educated study and investigation — that your product or service would fulfill a real need in the marketplace.

This is really what it is all about isn’t it?  If your product does fulfill a need or for that matter in our industry a desire or feeling than you might have something.   If not,  your going kaput!

The text book answer.   Unless you truly come up with something that is addressing an under served niche in the industry you cannot compete.   Let me pose this question.   Why in the hell would anyone buy a lugged frame for instance from somebody who has made 5 of them?  wait….let me answer that.   They do only if the promise of a low price over-rides there better instincts.

The good news though is that this industry does not quite follow the book.   People buy bicycles or for that matter many other things to elicit an emotional response.  If you can trigger that in someone it is possible to bypass all rational thought and get them to pony up their dollars and purchase from a relative newb.   Thank god for that or very few of us would have been able to get off the ground.   Let’s consider though a hypothetical situation.    You are the best marketer the world has ever seen.   After working for 10 years selling “green” yak pubic hair purses to Tibetans and setting sales records for your N.Y. advertising agency you decide that framebuilding was your true calling.   Even if you are that person you can’t just settle down smack dab between Richard Sachs, Peter Weigle, Zancanato etc and sell red and white lugged bikes and hope to have any chance of making it.     Big companies plan their next moves carefully.  Mickey D’s does not just plop a resturant on every caddy corner to BK and hope they can make it, neither should framebuilders.

So to boil it down.   What will you be selling/producing that will serve a niche that is yet not saturated in our field?  When you do how are you going to trigger an emotional response to your product that will serve to drive the consumer to you and not the competition?

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The Frame building BIZ, thoughts #1

20 03 2010

I think about the framebuilding Biz a lot.   I thought it would be worthwhile to put some of my thoughts on it for those that are considering it.

I admit up front I am no economist or for that matter a very good business man.   Any advice I give is one of those “do as I say, not as I do” comments.  As soon as I say “that is the dumbest thing I have ever heard” that is the very thing that will be massively successful, so everything I write has to be taken with a grain of salt.

I have been teaching a lot lately and this subject does come up.  I think more often than not I force the issue more than the frame students do.   Surprisingly students that want to eventually  go pro represent about 50%  so far.

The first thing I would say.   Just because you really like something is not necessarily a reason to then go into that business.   One way to make something really a slog quickly is to take something you enjoy doing on weekends and turn it into something you have to do everyday.   So many potential professionals seem to think that if they really enjoy it then by the grace of God they will be able to make it work without ever considering standard business plan practices.

Before you ever start you should understand the success rates of all small business in the U.S.   I just looked it up and the SBA (small business administration) tells us that 2/3rds of business survive two years and 44% of businesses survive four years.   Not as bad as the old adage that 95% of businesses fail but still sobering.   If you start a small framebuilding business you have a 50% chance of not making it.   One out of two.   Those are real numbers  people.  If throwing money and effort when faced with odds as good as flipping a coin don’t scare you off right away then you may think about moving ahead.

Next, I am surprised at how many framebuilders just start building stuff and live by the thought “build it and they will come”  Framebuilding is not unlike any other business.   Good business practices should always be followed.   Are you going to fill a void in the marketplace?  What is the competition like?  who is your target market?  Can you charge enough to make a living that is real?  By that I mean one that really pays for the necessities of life, health insurance and saving for the future?  If 50 people a year put their trust in you do you want to work that hard?   These are all questions that have to be answered to the best of your ability.

“Do something you love everyday and you will never work a day in your life.”   I agree existentially …

But, if you cannot afford to pay the bills or your skills would be better put to use generating a larger income so that you can have a wonderful hobby on the side, that may be preferable to naively jumping into a career.

This is but the beginning. I will post more thoughts on this in the future.





latest student

18 03 2010

Been busy but had a fun student recently.   A first for the bohemian shop a student 29nr fillet brazed.   Incognito like….

Tube specs.   A Tange prestige bulge formed ST, True Temper  29nr DT.  deda TT, Columbus stays and Paragon drop-outs.   Paint color mixed in house by the student themselves.