More on Starting an Automation Business

Last week someone commented on a 2015 post on starting an automation related business, and I realized I hadn’t written much on the topic since then.

I think I hit most of the highlights of what I wanted to say in that post as far as advice. I don’t want to repeat myself, so I am going to just speak in terms of what I might do if I were in the position of starting something from scratch right now.

I listen to a lot of the Ken Coleman show when I’m on the road, and have even adopted a lot of his material into my Automation Academy project. One of the pieces of advice he always gives in addition to don’t go into debt is to start a side hustle.

Probably the biggest advantage of doing it this way is that you still have your financial backstop from your regular job. It will also get you in the habit of working harder and longer hours, which you will certainly have to do if you start running your business full time.

It also takes time to make contacts in the business arena and develop customers. When I started my first business in 1996 I thought I had all the connections I needed to go it alone. After about three months I had finished all the work I had when I started and found that I needed to bring in new work. Guess what? When you’re working, you’re generally not selling, and vice versa. I dug a deep hole pretty quick.

As I mentioned years ago, if I had it all to do over again I would have worked out of my garage longer, and probably stayed at my current job a bit longer. I was young and pretty impatient though.

I also didn’t know much about business itself, meeting other business owners and talking to them about the legal aspects in my area would have been useful. The thing to be careful about there is to give back as much as you take. It’s hard to get help from busy business owners if you don’t have something to offer yourself.

Of course now you can meet people and find lots of information online. This would have been helpful when I got started, but at the same time I think people are much more skeptical of being approached by e-mail or networking. Before people will commit to doing business with you they need to get to know who you are. I am shocked at how difficult it has been to sell my Automation Academy memberships, and they are MUCH less expensive than the integration and live training work I do.

Honestly, if I was still working for say, Wright Industries (now JR Automation) and had it all to do again, I wouldn’t. I find it much harder to put in the extra hours at my ripe old age of 60, starting a business is a younger persons game. Even the side hustle would be difficult.

But can starting your own business, even during Covid times, still be personally rewarding and lucrative? I think so, but the more you know and are ready before you start, the better off you will be.

For those interested in working with me while starting out, I have a whole career section at the Automation Academy. This include figuring out what you are best at and are meant to do, in addition to a whole entrepreneurial section. I am also available there for advice. Not to mention all the fun technical stuff. Check it out!


Electrical Engineer and business owner from the Nashville, Tennessee area. I also play music, Chess and Go.