Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Maker Businesses…

Maker Businesses…:

Starting a maker business is not easy.  There are so many things to think about before you can put your product up for sale.  How do you find the best components for your kit?  How do you set up an online store?  What is the best way to ship out your product?  How much should you charge for your kit at wholesales?  What about retail?  How much inventory should you keep stocked?  What tools are available to run a more efficient business?  These are just a few of many questions you should ask yourself before putting your product up for sale.  As you can see, it can all be very overwhelming.
Thankfully, Adafruit is here to help.  When I started up Coobro Labs, and began getting the Coobro Geo kit ready to sell, I constantly tapped into the resources here at Adafruit.  These tips, tutorials, and articles saved me a whole lot of headache.  They enabled me to distribute my kit efficiently, and sell it for a profit.
Here is a quick overview of the types of posts you will find in the Maker Business section at Adafruit:
Software Sunday
Running a maker business can be very difficult and time consuming, but you can make your life easier along the way by making sure you use the right tools.  Software Sunday is where we showcase the software we use to make our life easier.  We will show you how to send a fax without a fax machine, tips on managing your maker business with Quickbook, how to use the USPS website to ship your kit, and more.
Manufacturing Monday
Sure, you could send out your circuit boards to be manufactured by a third party, but if you aren’t ordering in large quantities, this will dramatically increase the cost of your kit, eat in to your profits, or both.  Manufacturing Monday posts help to teach you how to manufacture your boards, and assembly your kits at home.
Tutorial Tuesday
There are a couple great things you will find in the Tutorial Tuesday posts.  You will, or course, find tips and tricks for running your own maker business (such as a tutorial on using barcode scanners, tips on using pick & place machines).  You should also take time to go over the way Adafruit tutorials are set up and written for Adafruit products.  Making sure you have extremely detailed tutorials for your product is very important.  The better your tutorial, the happier your customer will be, and the happier you will be because you won’t have to spend all night answering customer support emails.
Zencart Zensday
Without a doubt, the hardest part of getting your maker business up and running is building your online store.  Thankfully, there is open source Zencart ecommerce software.  The Adafruit store is built with Zencart.  Over the years, Adafruit has tweaked, modded and improved Zencart.  The beauty of using Zencart is that it is open source, and Zencart Zensday is where we share those tips, tricks, and mods with you.  Learn how to tweak your storefront, manipulate invoices, make your store iOS friendly, and much much more.
Partfinder Friday
Another important part of selling a kit is making sure you source quality components.  When I was just getting into electronics, and designing my own kits, one of they more frustrating things was navigating Digikey and Mouser to find the right components.  Ladyada recognized this issue, and created the Adafruit Partfinder.  Ladyada is extremely picky about which components go into the Partfinder, and only components of the highest quality make the cut.  This was an extremely useful tool early on, as it made me confident I was ordering the one right component out of thousands of available options.
There are also a lot of general maker business posts that don’t fit into these categories.  So, if you want to read all of the Maker Business blog posts, click here, or subscribe to the Maker Business RSS feed.

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