Today I spent about 6 hours in the shop. Most of that was spent sanding. However, while I was sanding a lot more was getting done. My CNC was cutting a stack of coasters and my laser was engraving the backs of 10 coasters and a cutting board with my logo for customers. If all I did was sand today, tomorrow would be a day spent hustling around the shop and not making headway on the two orders in my shop. Instead, because my unpaid employees were doing work for me, I was as productive as two people.
Before I bought the CNC I currently have, I was thinking about a different one. A handheld one. It would be more flexible and work great for me, but it needed to be operated by hand and didn't move on my own. When discussing this machine with a friend of mine, he pointed out that it would probably be a bad idea in my workflow. He told me I should be treating my CNC as an unpaid employee that could work while I did other things, but if I had to hand-hold the one I was going to buy then I lose the functionality of having the equivalent of an employee.
Since we had that conversation, I've rethought my entire robot army. I have a 3D printer, Cricut, Laser, and CNC, and all of them do different things for me in the course of my business day, and I fully appreciate just why those machines are so valuable to me now: they work while I work. They do some things while I do things they can't do, and my productivity doubles.
Sometimes I feel like I'm cheating, for sure, but I think this modern era of being able to have multiple "employees" at my disposal with lower costs than hiring someone is magical for small business owners for me, and I think anyone who does the kinds of things I do and who feels "stretched thin" would be doing themselves a major service to get on board with the idea of hiring robot labor for themselves.
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