Manufacturing · Business Development

Is it possible to build a customer base before getting a company off the ground?

Matt Zuern Freelancer at Matthew Zuern Graphic Design

August 10th, 2015

I've been in manufacturing for a while now and I've seen others venture out on their own and have taken customers from their old employers.  That's not what I'm doing,  I was just wondering is there a way to get contracts in manufacturing, before getting all the equipment necessary?
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John Seiffer Business Advisor to growing companies

August 10th, 2015

Yes it's possible but it's a lot more risk for the customer. So think about what makes it worth them taking that risk? Usually it's because you have some amazing invention or capacity that they want so badly they're willing to take the risk.

Phil MBA Strategic Global Group

August 10th, 2015

Matt
It depends on what you are manufacturing to how difficult its going to be. You don't say. Manufacturing can be a highly leveraged capital intense business. You will need steady revenue to offset such expense.
Case in point, I have two colleagues that manufacturer for different clients. One is a machine shop that serves the Semiconductor industry. This is small specialized products that apply to older semi technology, but are very lucrative in revenue as competing with the OEM's is easier.
The other is a machine shop that deals with high end, fortune 500 companies such as GE and Rolls Royce. Contracts for this person came from his time at GE, and they were willing to have him supply as he was supplying capacity, cycle time and cost, his value added or competitive advantage. Two very different markets, but both highly leveraged.
What are you offering your industry clients that they don't already have from their existing suppliers? Whats your added value? Whats your competition? These are some of the basics you will have to overcome, apart from the startup costs.

Marvin Schuldiner Problem Solver at Sanns, LLC

August 10th, 2015

Sure. That's the basis for many crowdfunding projects. You get clients to pre-pay for products that are not fully developed. In fact, the money often goes towards development work.

Jeffrey Gray Founder and CEO at Brave Enterprises, LLC

August 10th, 2015

Matt,

Matt Zuern Freelancer at Matthew Zuern Graphic Design

August 10th, 2015

I'm trying to get into 3D printing.  The market isn't saturated yet, and I can do the modeling.  There is no business like it in my area, so I would like to take advantage and   Jeff, I can't see your reply, could you post it again?

Reme Pullicar Project | Program | IT Manager

August 10th, 2015

Matt, in a word.. outsource. You do the designs. You charge for the design and calculate a minimal margin for production and then send it to one of the big 3D production companies to produce. Simple. Once you begin developing your independent track record, leverage your experience and a big job to purchase or lease the equipment you need. The fact is, you can find Additive 3D options as low as $1k. So if you have the marketing skills to back up your design skills, you should do well. 

searchmktgpro.biz Founder SearchMktgPro.Biz

August 10th, 2015

From a purely marketing perspective,I help and advice small ventures to always build their customer base prior to getting off the ground.You should line up all the ducks in a row through a well-planned digital marketing campaign.

It doesn't take too long and isn't very costly.

Use the data from this campaign to make important business decisions primarily to know what the customers need from you and the USP to highlight in your offer.Campaigns help you as an entrepreneur to tweak your offerings & deliver the best results.

Test your offer,build your customer base,forecast your potential and then get off the ground. 

Mana Ionescu President, Lightspan Digital: Digital Marketing Problem-Solver and Speaker

August 10th, 2015

You can and should definitely build a contacts database before launch. And you can lock in contracts as well, as long as you know how you'll deliver if you close the deal. A wise woman told me to always focus on the top line. It's better to close the deal and then hustle to execute than focus too much on execution before you even have a deal.

Jackson Powell UI/UX Designer & Front End Developer

August 10th, 2015

Hi there Mr. Zuern,

I'd check out these two online 3D printing platforms and consumer equipment. They might help you as you figure out your business model. Astroprint and New Matter.

Jackson Powell UI/UX Designer & Front End Developer

August 10th, 2015

I'd also suggest you talk to Lonnie Sciambi, The Entrepreneur's Yoda. He's a mentor that is embarking on a product development cycle by offering to answer questions from startup entrepreneur's like yourself for free.