So You Want To Have A Laser Business?

I’ve written this article before, but it bears repeating, I think.  I just got a new laser, which means  I joined a new Facebook group and I’ve seen this happen so many times from every manufacturers Facebook or Webpage Forum.   A group member will write:

“HELP!  My machine stopped working and I have orders that I have to fulfill.  I am frantic, HELP!”

Please know that I’m not knocking anyone here and I don’t think I’m smarter than anyone else by a long shot.  I just want to point out some observations I have made over the last few years of operating a laser.

If you have bought a laser to run a small business and:

  • Don’t know how to troubleshoot your machine.
  • Don’t have lots of experience with the machine.
  • Don’t have spare parts.
  • Don’t have a backup machine
  • Don’t have a fellow hobbyist who can help with your orders during your downtime.

Then all I can say, is that you didn’t plan out your business very well.   Lasers are electronic, mechanical, and optical devices.  There is a lot going on there.  They break.  Sometimes WE break them.  If you have a laser and you are just a hobbyist making stuff for yourself and your family then you can afford the luxury of waiting a week or two on parts.

If you are in business you can ruin your reputation in a hot minute by not delivering what you’ve promised.

Another thing to consider is if you buy that bleeding edge laser that was just released a week or a month ago………..Are spare parts available for it yet?  Do you really know that it is a reliable machine since it is so new?  I owned a laser once that would build up static electricity as it was moving around and then zap the main board dead with its static discharge.  It never happened to me, however it happened to so many people the company had to offer up an aftermarket grounding kit.

How’d you like that to be your one and only machine for your business?

I’ve probably said this a dozen times on this Tech Blog…………If you want to be in the laser business and you buy a $700 or a $1000 machine, you either need to invest in spare parts such as a second mainboard, spare lenses, a limit switch or two, or a power supply or power brick.  Or buy TWO machines.

Again, if you are a hobbyist who doesn’t care about making on time deliveries to customers then one laser and no spares might suit your needs just fine.  But if you are in it to win it you have got to think this thing through to its logical outcome.

This is one of my favorite stories.  I used to work for the US Government as an Electronics Tech Rep and was embedded with US Marines.   One day me and my co-worker went to the base shop to grab some snacks.  My co-worker was a retired USMC E-8.  As we came out of the building there were a group of young Marines in a circle at the corner of the building.  My co-worker told me “I have to know……..”.  He then went over to them and said “Hey Dawgs, what are you doing?” One kid turns around and proudly says “Sir, we have a rattlesnake cornered.”

My friend crosses his arms, leans back and replies “Yo Dawgs, what do we think is the best possible outcome here?”  And it wasn’t as much what he said, but how he said it.  They all walked away hanging their heads knowing they were stupid for surrounding a rattlesnake.

Buy spare parts, buy a backup machine.  Don’t get bit.

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