When you’re running your own CNC business, it’s critical to have access to high-quality files of common designs such as plaques, frames, and ornaments. Although there are several options out there, many are only available if you’re willing to shell out big bucks.
Free laser cut files can be difficult to find, but they do exist (like this place) and this blog post will help you find and use them!
How do you start a CNC business?
In this detailed guide, you’ll learn how to start a CNC business with free laser cut files, as well as how to complete the necessary research and planning in order to grow your CNC business into a full-fledged company that’s competitive in today’s marketplace.
By following these helpful tips, you can be on your way to starting your own CNC business!
How can free laser cut files help?
I knew I wanted to start a CNC business and sell my own line of products, but I didn’t want to invest in expensive CAD software (I do design work professionally so it made sense for me not to buy software that would duplicate features in another program). Instead, I went on eBay and found some free laser cut files (which were actually just DXF or SVG files) that looked nice enough.
They came from a company called DXFforCNC, which was at first a side project for Dave Evans, who was just trying to get his business off the ground by giving away free files and seeing if people liked them. Eventually, he decided to move forward with his business idea as his main gig—selling high-quality designs—and closed off access to many of his original designs as part of that transition. That said, many people used them before they were pulled down…so they still exist!
What you can do right now
Research business models and niches
There are countless ways to start a business. Some involve high investment, some require you to get your hands dirty and build things, and others simply require you to tap into an existing market.
There’s no one size fits all model for success in business—the best route is different for everyone, based on goals, resources, skillset, and learning curve. As such, we suggest doing lots of research to identify potential opportunities.
- What does a similar company look like?
- How many competitors do they have?
- How profitable is it?
This kind of information will help you better pinpoint specific areas where there may be opportunities for growth. If anything looks particularly interesting or lucrative, keep digging!
Gain visibility in your niche
In order to get started in a new business niche, you need to establish yourself as an expert and build a reputation. The first step is creating your website, which will serve as your shop front and allow you to showcase your work. You’ll also want to focus on publishing great content so that search engines know more about you.
As your reputation grows, it becomes easier for potential clients to find you online and identify you as an expert in your field. This is especially important if there are limited competitors in your niche.
If you have no experience in your field, then chances are good that you’ll have to spend time getting to know your market and prospective customers. A common mistake is assuming that what works in one market will work in another.
To make an effective pitch, tailor it specifically for each potential client. Some questions you might ask include:
- What products or services do they already purchase?
- How do they shop?
- What else do they buy?
Price your services
If you’re new to creating CNC files and selling them on websites, then pricing can be tricky. Generally speaking, high-quality files don’t cost much, but some basic math is in order: consider how many hours you expect it will take you to create a good file.
If you make $20 per hour at your day job (or $40/hour after taxes), then that same hourly rate should apply when estimating how much time it will take you to make a quality file for sale.
Network with other makers
When you start out on your own, you may not have many connections in your local industry. We’ve found that connecting with other makers is one of our best ways. This is how to get jobs and learn from experienced professionals. You just have to know where to look.
Social media is an amazing resource for getting connected. So make sure you take advantage of it by joining groups, commenting on posts, and searching hashtags. A few networking tips: post images of your work, participate in discussions, and offer help when appropriate.
Be careful not to be too pushy or sales-y; your goal is to build relationships. Don’t expect immediate results either; building a reputation takes time! You can also use sites like LinkedIn (and Google+!) as well as going old school with printed business cards.
Image by Daniel Smyth from pexels
Starting a business can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. When you’re starting out, there’s no need to put any money down.
Start slow and small, until you’re comfortable enough that your idea will succeed before putting in more money or time. Have fun and good luck!