Rule #8: Design for manufacturability.
I have not designed for manufacturability, and I think for what I am doing, that’s fine. I’m basically acquiring all of the parts, doing a bit of soldering, a bit of programming, some drilling, filing and painting, and then some assembly.
The actual manufacturing of all the bits (at this stage) is happening elsewhere in the chain. Speaking of the chain though, I can already see (even with my initial run) that any area for small improvement can become a large improvement when you multiply it by 10, or 100, or 1,000 or more. That said, I’m considering investing in some better equipment. The hole saw I was using is just slightly too small. For a one-off thing, that was fine, as I didn’t mind a few minutes of filing to size the hole correctly. That “few minutes” times 10 or 20 starts to add up. I’ve also got a mediocre soldering iron, and if a better iron can make the soldering go faster, that’s a benefit. Getting things done faster means you’re making more in less time, and if you’re paying yourself (and you should be) then your hourly rate just went up.
I’m barely into this thing and I can already see where large manufacturers look for the smallest of savings to cascade into bigger savings (of time and money.) One thing I really don’t want to compromise on though is quality. I still make sure every unit looks good, and functions. I test each unit after programming and after assembly.
And now for some good news… I’ve made my first sale! I haven’t really opened the store to the public yet, but for the dozen or so people who were really interested in the product, I’ve started emailing them and offering them the first chance at ordering. We’ll see how it goes from here. Who knows, I may sell the first batch and then no one will ever want to buy one again. It’s a distinct possibility, and I’m protecting against that right now by not keeping a lot of stock. Oh, I’ve also learned more about shipping this week than I ever wanted to, and I still feel like I know almost nothing. Fun times!
Oh, I’ll warn you now: the next post in this series will be filled with amazing insight. Stay Tuned! :)
(See all the posts in this series: Begin, Stock, Buy Smart, Basic Rules, No Leeway, Be Open, Community, Manufacturability, Marketing, Shipping, Lessons Learned, The Real Costs.)