I’m a huge fan of factory tour videos or even workshop tours. I’m fascinated with peoples’ processes as well as seeing and understanding their struggles with starting a business. As a small business owner myself (Rattlesnake Cable Company among other projects), I’m always trying to learn from these individuals to see how they got their projects off of the ground and to the point of sustainability.
I’ve had a little experience building a guitar for myself (through Rukavina Guitars here in Missoula, MT) and it’s incredible the amount of time and energy that is involved with making an instrument. The margins are slim, and the time involved is daunting. There is a span where small businesses need to struggle and slog through these points to see if they can float on the other side. I often refer to this as the “dip”. The dip is the crossroads – where you quit or push through. It’s also the point where you figure out your process to improve your technique, improve your margins, learn and dominate. Or give up.
I found two Paul Reed Smith (PRS) tours. One from 1986 where Paul Reed Smith talks about how he started the company and the other is a modern day tour where the President of the company talks about PRS today. It’s interesting to watch these back to back to see what has happened within 30 years.
Now, watching this first video, I found a couple of things really interesting. #1 I was impressed that he went from just a few initial guitars to getting big time investments and going to tradeshows. In some ways he avoided the “dip” and rolled the dice and went “all in” on the business direction. Knowing he had a great product and endorsements, he had the confidence to secure investments, purchase space and equipment and go on a large scale. To me this.. is insane. I’m use to seeing business grow step through that growth as demand rises. I definitely have respect for that thinking.
The second thing that I thought was interesting was his ability to make those contacts with well known players. He mentioned how he snuck in to meet Nugent, but how did he leverage those other meetings? Having a guitar to show like this, would be very difficult without any contacts or connections. Regardless, it’s amazing that a few sales or custom builds would lead to raising $500K and building a factory. Amazing.
Now, here we are today. It’s great that Jack Higginbotham was with the company during that time of the first video (I don’t think I saw him), but the point.. loyalty like this, and passion like this is cool to see. I was hoping to see Paul in the video, but it was great to see the growth in the equipment, but the same attention to quality is still there.
Have any of you readers out there started a business? Can you relate with going all in? Or are you more of a slow grower? Let me know what you think by commenting below!