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thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

i am thinking of starting a business using Solidworks 2007. Most of my experience has been assigning part numbers and documentation. I do have a BSME and have received my 3D certificate while being out of work. So the only designing i have done is thru school and playing around doing tutorials and other ideas. How do i start to go out and get clients. Is there any chance this could work since i have never designed for a company??
Any of your thoughts would be greatly appreciated    


RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

Start looking for customers that are two years out-of-date in SolidWorks.  They may also be the ones willing to overlook your lack of design experience.  You may need to overlook the lack of money that is characteristic of such customers.

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

Thank you Tick  

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

Now for some construcive, actionable advice...

Assuming that your SW seat is legit, there is another way to use it to your advantage, especially if you have your own workstation.

Some places in need of contract workers do not have the hardware and software to support an additional worker.  I have gotten contract jobs because I could bring my own.  I also got additional money for "renting" my stuff.

The first post may have sounded harsh, but I believe it accurately reflects the reality of what you are facing.  I do wish you well.

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

Your assumption is correct. However upgrade in SW is 1500 per year which to me is rather expensive at this point.
and sometimes i wonder do i always need to be current?

what was intesting you mentioned that there would be less pay for out of date Solid Works. Customers would pay more for up to date software ?

Your first post was fine it is right to the point.   

Thank you  

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

This is what is lovely about the United states, the go-getter attitude, even when you cannot talk the talk, let alone walk the walk. A daring attitude unlike any place on earth.

I do admire your guts of going it on your own without ever working for a company, but then again, this may be foolishness as youth can be foolish.

But who am I to say, I don't even know what solidworks is.

Free advice anyway: get a job some place to at least learn the jargon of the trade (i.e. the leagal limbo, RFP, change order, delegated design, CYA notes and disclaimers, etc.)


RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

Thats what i admire about this country. Inspiration from other engineers.

Thank you  

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

So let me get this straight.

You have an out of date version of solidworks and don't have $1,500 to update. You have no experience at all in design. You don't know how to find any clients and you are thinking of starting a design company in the middle of a recession.

How many minutes of thought have you put into this?

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

maybe you are correct in your statements but at least i can try. Isnt that what forums are about is to get ideas even though some people consider them ridiculous. yes i am thinking of this ridicoulous or not. I love creativity amd using my imagination. Also lets see in a recession companies need help from other sources that maybe to expensive for themselves to pay for insurance. maybe or maybe not. Also maybe i can hit trade shows or conferences and mingle with people and show them my business card. Or perhaps a solidworks convention and meet someone eating a sandwich. Yes experience is a problem but if some companies need it bad enough perhaps they will make an exception. If a person doesnt try to take a risk and maybe make a fool of himself, then what has he lost. A little pride ??   

Thank you  

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business


i do have the money for updates and other costs. But my dad always taught me to keep costs low. maybe software wise its not a good idea. let me share a success story with you. My father used to work as a reaserch chemist for sherwin williams. He also invented ideas that became patents for cherwin williams. He got laid of at 57 years old. he then tried different businesses without success. Then he bought a dunkin donuts franchise which became a success and then sold it. If he can go from research chemistry to donuts then there has got to be a way of doing this. At least i enjoy thinking about it. I do appreciate your comments because it helps me to check myself in the process. So i say thank you Ajack1 and you have a wonderful day.   

Thank you  

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

I don't have advice either way, except to say there is a major difference between what your dad did and what you're attempting to do.

Your dad had nearly 40 years of business experience before he started the D&D franchise (working FOR a business still counts as experience)... that counts for a LOT!  He also purchased a franchise, which means the vast majority of business-side things are taken care of for you... your supplier list is handed to you (D&D supplies almost everything, you just place the orders), potential customers walk/drive by your shop every day (assuming he was in a good location), and there's no need to spend much money on advertising/branding as that's been done for you over the last 100 years D&D has been in business.

You have zero of the above... something to consider.

Dan - Owner

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

A reality check is needed here.  Say I'm the customer seeking a machine designer, and I am looking at your resume.  I don't see anything of value to me in my immediate need.  You have the BSME, so there is some intrinsic value in that.  The SW2007 is not the sticking point, you can fix that with your money or my money, and a few hours of practice time.  It's your experience.  There's none.  And if you say you have some, then you have lost credibility.  A "CAD Jockey" is not necessarily a good designer.

If you can't find a job, then you need to consider marketing yourself at a lower level.  At lower level rates.  Sell yourself as a BSME who is seeking an opportunity to gain experience by doing lower level tasks in a recessionary period, at lower level rates.  Either through direct contact to potential clients, or use a Job Shop service (assuming the Service will cooperate with you...they're in business to make money, too).  But I would only hire you as a detailer under a more experienced engineer.  This would allow you to do the essential grunt work in order to learn how to be a good designer.  From there, you can gain experience on how to be a good engineer.  The difference in pay rate is the investment in yourself, and the dues that we all must pay.  And you may be surprised to discover how quickly you can progress.

The benefit of this approach is that it may bring in revenue (food on the table, gas in the car), allow you to gain experience, and (most importantly) gain some contacts and references for "the next job."

Blue Technik LLC
Virtuoso Robotics Engineering

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business


I agree with most of the other posts - your lack of experience is going to be a significant drawback if you try to head out on your own.  However, assuming you already own the Solidworks license you really have nothing to lose by trying, other than any startup costs you incur (forming an LLC if you so choose, business cards, stuff like that).

I feel compelled to compliment you on how favorably you're reacting to some pretty harsh comments, spot on though they may be.  I don't know you from Adam, but with that kind of attitude it wouldn't surprise me at all if you succeed at whatever you attempt.

Geographically, where are you located?

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

Look into the hobby industry....they are a lot more forgiving then this board - but give less money.  

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business


I agree with the Tick; I think if you sell yourslef as a contractor where you sell yourself as an temp employee, you might have an advantage to get in as cheaper labor without benefits. Try making calls and visits to smaller companies who might lose your services/license. Go in with a portfolio showing your capabilities. See everybody you can think of patent attorneys, machine shops, manufacturers, etc.

Join a user group and other professional societies to network and market your stuff.

Also think about developing something as a product, even if its just for the hell of it. Try making something sellable (furniture, a toy, a new jig) and see what happens.

Even if you fail in it as a buiness, you'll get out of your unemployemnt rut and eventually find something. Good luck!

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

i just want to thank you all for your valuable comments. i do need to pound the pavement and make connections. And some how worm (what a great term huh) my way into the business. But i must admit that with all the stress in my current situations, frankly i dont know if i could handle all of that. I do have some health and that maybe my downfall. Anyways thanks again for ALL of your comments. Its always great to weigh things. I live in Orland Park,IL
I would have to wait for my divorce in order to incorporate but in the mean time i could learn to be CAD jokey say at $15 dollars and hour just to get some exposure. I am hoping that being honest,( diplomatic ) well that needs working.

Thank you  

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

Sometimes i can get a little argumentative with people also trying to prove my point. Or like the stament fro a fella At Governers Stae said always say yes yes yes i can do that.

Thank you  

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

Okay maybe I was a little harsh with my original post, but I really do not think you have thought this through, allow me to give you some practical advice from someone who has started and owns a small business.

To start up you will need a minimum of $10K and this is for a very basic set up working from home, think set up costs, accountants, solicitors, fax, printers, plotters, software, hardware, insurance, etc the list goes on and on. Depending on the type of contracts you can win have at least enough money put by to run for six months with no income and even then a very modest income for the next six months. During the first three to four years it is unlikely that your company will have any real assets so any money or loans you need will have to be secured against you personally or your assets, usually your house. So the assumption that you have nothing to lose but your pride is far from the truth, you can very easily end up homeless and bankrupt.

Sales are the key to any business without them you are sunk. Most companies start up with a good working knowledge of an industry and the players in it, or with a commitment from one company to provide a certain amount of work. Most work comes from networks you have built up or word of mouth and anyone that has not seen your work or dealt with you in a previous job will want to see proof of similar work you have done and or references from other clients. I simply fail to see how you stand a chance of winning any work, let alone enough to make a business successful. I can assure you attending trade shows and solidworks conferences and waving around a business card will not be enough, they are full of people doing that already who do not have enough work. You will need to solve this major problem, how?

You mention stress, nothing is more stressful than running a small business, especially in the early days, you will have no idea where next months pay check is coming from, you will have cash flow problems and be chasing debt, you will be trying to meet impossible deadlines often with changes at the eleventh hour whilst at the same time trying to find your next job. Add to this doing all the bookkeeping, I,T and day to day work of running a business. Add to this the buck stops with you on everything, there is no one to turn to with a problem, unless you pay them, do not underestimate this or the potential costs.

So my advice, if you are serious about starting a business, get a job and put yourself forward to do everything, learn as much as you can not only about being a designer but about how the business is run and the systems in place, get to know as many of the clients as possible and in the mean time do attend conferences and trade shows and make a network of potential customers and suppliers. As well as doing this take evening classes in bookkeeping, sales, how to run a business anything that may help and look at it as a three year project, good luck.

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

conferences and trade shows and make a network of potential customers and suppliers. Great advice

Thank you  

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

With any endeavor you have to start some where you might as well start it when you're young!!!  Check this site out   http://ppi2pass.com/ppi/PPIShop_ct_MECHANICAL   and look up "Engineering Your Start-Up (EYSU2)" it is on sale now and may be a good read.  Also, I suggest that you start on the road to a PE if you want to have your own engineering company.  

Good luck!

"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."  

RE: thinking of starrting a mechanical design business

Thank you.

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