How to find your first CNC machining customers

March 6, 2017

Starting any kind of business isn’t easy. It’s the great American ideal – a dream to be a successful entrepreneur. But you never hear about the hard parts. Business can be downright maddening sometimes.

So, say you’re considering starting a CNC machining business whether it is sign making or fabrication. You’re either an independent professional, or you’re someone ready to open a small shop.

Although, how do you find those first customers? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Your Former Employer

At first, you might think your former employer would never want to hire you. After all, you just left them for another business venture. While of course sometimes that might happens, there is also a chance they might be willing to start a business relationship with you because they know the quality of your work. It’s also often more cost-effective to sub-contract work than it is to pay and hire full-time employees.

If your relationship was amicable, talk to them and get their input.

2. Have a Specialty Niche That You Serve

Think back to your most recent past employers. Consider what your managers said. Did they have a certain type of tool or parts they’d complain about not having to inhibit the process from working efficiently?

Odds are this problem affects more than one company. So send emails or call production managers, tell them the problems you may be able to solve, and how you solve it. It’s a great way to score some new business and maybe some future business.

3. Go to Professional Society Meetings, Trade Shows, and Conferences

Your mere physical presence at these doesn’t guarantee you’ll get business but sometimes, all it takes is a positive conversation to generate a lead.

Don’t talk about your company or what you do. Don’t ask the other person what their company does (initially).

Instead, focus on getting to know them. Ask them about their personal lives. Do they have kids? Dogs? Are they wearing an interesting ring?

Once you’ve established a connection, then you can talk about their (and your) professional lives. When you’re new and in need of work, it’s so easy to jump right into the business talk immediately. But ironically, even though that’s why many people go to meetings and conferences, talking business immediately pushes them away more so than anything else.

Give Yourself Credit for Having Courage

Starting a CNC business is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do in your life. Give yourself credit for having the courage for making the attempt and keep trying until you succeed.

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