This time-lapse video shows all the steps needed to fill six typical BMOW hardware orders. Running an electronics hobby business can be lots of fun, but can also be highly time-consuming. If your operation is too small to support other employees, you’ll spend the bulk of your time prepping product and stuffing boxes instead of developing new tech.
What exactly is involved in filling somebody’s order for a new gadget? Even when the products involved are pre-assembled and “ready to ship”, there’s still work to do. Starting from the beginning of the video, here’s the chronology:
0 minutes – Download the recent order data, and print packing lists. Make a little pile on the floor for each outgoing order. Add quickstart guides and instruction sheets to the piles, as needed.
4 minutes – Pull the LCD off each Floppy Emu, and tighten its mounting tabs. Adjust the LCD contrast to something reasonable – the exact level varies from one LCD to the next. Flash the newest Emu firmware to the board.
12 minutes – Grab a set of DB19 adapters and a bundle of ribbon cables. Remove the DB19 adapters from their anti-static bags, and put the Emu boards in the bags. Connect the cable assemblies, fold them up neatly, and add everything to the growing piles on the floor.
16 minutes – Cut the SD memory cards from their cardboard packaging. Copy the master image to the cards, using a stand-alone SD duplicator. Add to the piles. Also start wrapping some items, during the copying dead time.
22 minutes – Add enclosures to the piles. The enclosure parts were bagged previously, in a separate time-consuming process of punching and sorting parts from laser-cut sheets.
23 minutes – Pack fragile items in bubble wrap. Fold up the papers.
28 minutes – Buy necessary postage. Custom software determines what postage type and amount is needed for each shipment.
29 minutes – Why is this Japanese address getting rejected by the address validator? Manually rewrite the address, twice.
33 minutes – Print the postage.
36 minutes – Pack the finished piles into boxes or padded envelopes. Seal them and affix the postage.
42 minutes – Put some tiny spare parts into an envelope. Hand-address the envelope to the customer.
46 minutes – Collect all the outgoing mail into a bag, and clean up the leftover scraps.
The entire process in the video takes 47 minutes, which excludes the time needed to deliver the packages to the post office. All tolled, it’s about an hour of time.
If you’ve ever run a small hobby business, you’re probably nodding your head at all of this. If you’re thinking about turning your hobby creations into a small business, I don’t want to discourage you, but the reality is that selling physical goods takes time. It’s fun tinkering with interesting electronics, and talking with like-minded people, but the mundane work of getting parts and filling orders consumes most of the time you can devote to the business. Developing iPhone apps is probably a smarter way to earn extra dollars!
Bonus game: Search the video to see how many geeky electronics items you can identify hidden around the room.Read 4 comments and join the conversation