Running the Goat Rodeo: Simplify


Owner-Makers lend your ears. This is a series of blog posts and stuff I screwed up and how I fixed it. Use as you wish.


When I got over the initial hump of, “How do I cut metal?” and then make a resonator from it the world of reso-possibilities was endless.  This is coming from someone who’s first guitar out of guitar school was a 10 string fan fret touch-style guitar with kasha bracing. So before I started selling the resonators I tried tricones, different soundholes, brass, steel, different neck widths.  And everything was crap.

I never got good at anything, spent 4x as much time as I should have making different jigs and templates.  Frustrated I said, “steel, single cone, f-hole guitars and thats it. ” And then I started getting somewhere.

Any sort of option complicates things. I make brass and steel guitars, with and without a cutaway. I added a pickup. So then I have to keep tops in stock for pickup AND non pickup brass, steel, non cutaway brass and non cutaway steel. It’s more money hanging on the wall and twice as much to keep track of. That’s just one small example.  I dug myself out of a lot of these sorts of holes.

When you set out in the beginning to make something for a living set out to be The Go-To.  I think I read somewhere that almost all of Olson’s guitars are cedar and Indian Rosewood. Fraulini – he’s a Go-to guy.  When someone in the woodworking community needs something engraved are you The Go-To?  If you build instruments do you have a bluegrass guitar, blues guitar, martin guitar, archtop guitar and mandolin model?  One way to look at that is you’re trying to start five different businesses at once.  Mandolin guys aren’t looking for blues machines, archtop players aren’t look for mandolins. Can it be done? Sure. It will be harder.

If you’re at someone’s house and they ask if you want some ice cream you say sure. If they then tell you 15 different flavors you can pick from you say, “uhhhh.” Don’t do that to your customers.

  1. Focus your efforts and succeed at one thing. Then move on if necessary.
  2. Be the Go-To.
  3. Your customers want ice cream, not overwhelming choice.

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