Most of what you are describing as a "need", while very real, is not the foundation for a profitable business. You either need to define a profitable market for the services you want to provide, or form a nonprofit, raise the necessary capital from like-minded donors and pay yourself a salary. Repairing ebikes for cheapskates and the working poor is not going to provide the income you are hoping for.Hello ES!
I'm a long time lurker. Thank you to all the "oldies" for the generous donations of time and knowledge. I'm functional and "here" because of you!
After several different lifetimes of making a very few people rich from my labor, I decided that MY talent and passion can take a lap before I exit this world. I'm a tree-hugger from way back and the LEV plays a big part in my efforts to make this world a better place. Since I'm not able to take a "LEV Sabbatical" at Grin, I figure you all at ES are the next best source of advice.
Please weigh in with your reflections, opinions, criticisms, and advice. (I've got a thick skin, don't worry) Please and thank you.
I've started in my garage, been going since summer 2022. I'm recovering from an initial $15,000 investment, now about $9000 in the hole. My capitol expenditures are mostly done, so the trend line is positive. I hope to break even next year. The current income is not amazing (see revenue growth below).
I was initially inspired to create my business from Johnny Nerd Out (thank you John).
Only the first two value propositions are up and running so far:
Servicing the DCIEB (dirt-cheap internet e-bike) and scooters.
Conversions of acoustics to electric
I'm hoping to add more revenue models like:
Battery testing (I've gat a CBA V w/500W amp)
So, what advice am I asking for?
Am I crazy?
Am I on the right track?
What am I doing wrong?
What am I missing?
Pricing: (repair and conversions)
I charge $80/hr for electrical work and $40/hr for mechanical. I end up discounting rates because I get stuck "learning" stuff and I move way too slow.
Frustrating examples include display/controller coms (CANBUS vs UART), 9 pin Julet sourced from CN with non-standard pin positions, re-lacing hubs with non-standard spokes, etc.
For conversions I charge 4.5 hours of labor ($360) + parts.
I've done two big purchases from CN. Sailimotor and UPP (yes Amberwolf I've taken your opinion to heart, but have not gotten burned yet)
I need A LOT of help doing better in this area. I need to efficiently supply this business with mid-drives/hubs/batteries/controllers/displays/throttles/ebrakes/cables/connectors/etc. I spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME trying to find the right stuff at wholesale. HELP! Is there a better way? What are the big suppliers out there anyway? I'm willing to put out cash for a few motors/batteries but I wait until the client comes in the door to order the replacement parts they need. I struggle with this. Until I have insurance (see below) I can't get an account at JBI.
I'm frightened by the liability exposure. My quote was $5250/yr for two incidents at $1M each. Today (in my business networking group) an insurance guy just informed me about a $200k claim from FL. The house burned down and the battery supplier was not responsible but the claim is going forward. Every time I touch someone's CIEB (cheap internet e-bike) I assume the liability for the battery, motor, and frame. I spent a couple grand writing up a three page waiver but I'm still frightened. It's not the rider that will sue me, it's the insurance company or PI lawyer. I HAVE to increase revenue enough to afford this (unfortunately).
Poor People Transit:
The need for "equitable access to transit" (my B corp mission) is HUGE! Late stage capitalism has created an entire underclass of workers unable to get to work affordably. I'm in a VERY car-centric location. Woe be to the biker or pedestrian here (Lehigh Valley, PA). These guys are risking their lives (more so than in other places for sure, with apologies to the rest of the developing world) to get to their fast-food job. Bus service here is adequate but not like in the more dense cities. Somehow I've got to/want to service these people and get them affordable transit. This means repairing a crap bike cheaply or providing a replacement that they can afford. Have i emphasized the ENORMOUS NEED enough?
Currently this business is not gonna fly without more growth. I've got to repair faster (with already sourced and stocked parts), and I've got to find and develop more customers/business models. Since I'm new and just getting on my feet, I've done almost no marketing. What are the ways/strategies to build interest and how does that translate to income? I've never had a Facebook account and have reluctantly done Instagram (yes I'm older). I'm gonna have to submit to the FANG overlords even more I assume.