Building a boatbuilding business

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by chrismcg, Apr 2, 2022.

  1. mitchgrunes
    Joined: Jul 2020
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    Location: Maryland

    mitchgrunes Senior Member

    If you set up a website, I strongly suggest you create your own, in simple HTML, edit it with a basic text editor, not proprietary software, and use a reputable website host. You can learn simple HTML through sites like www.w3schools.com. (I've never used Wordpress, but maybe it isn't too hard to use instead of HTML. Some people like it.)

    I know that sounds crazy, but a lot of businesses pay someone to set up a website, or get someone to set it up for free or cheap. Then they discover that the web site designer (or sometimes the website host company or ISP) owns the site registration, and isn't willing to transfer it at a reasonable price, and has created the website using codes that are very difficult to others to maintain (e.g., they use the Microsoft tools, that virtually encrypt the final web page, and keep the original document secret, or they use very complex code.) and soon starts charging a lot to maintain or change it. Sometimes they trademark the website name too, and own the trademark, which would cause you no end of problems.

    Unfortunately a lot of the companies - even some of the biggies, and a lot of the hosting companies do that. In fact, it is possible most of the web design and hosting business play nasty games like that. So ask other local small business owners who have run a web page for a long while what hosting companies don't play that stupid game. Definitely don't use your ISP - they tend to be some of the sneakiest in these terms.

    BTW, I'm not talking about illegal activity here - unless Ireland does this differently than the U.S., none of the things I just talked about are illegal.

    E.g., I use Namecheap, both to register the website name, and to host my account. If they raised their prices too much, I would switch to a different host. They are pretty reliable, their technical support is excellent, and it's only a few dollars (USD) a month for both website hosting and registration. And they are willing to help you transfer hosting to someone else's host, if you have to. But I'm not sure they register Irish domains. I don't happen to know an Irish equivalent.

    As a small business, you can use the lowest tier "shared hosting" account. You don't need scripting (in fact, that makes it hard for people to bookmark your page and send each other links), dedicated hosting, multiple website names, or any of the fancy options.

    I originally tried some of the freebee hosting accounts. But the ones I tried either died, or weren't reliable.

    I admit that if you want to sell automatically through your website, using credit cards, that is more complicated. But if you keep your web page design simple, and don't sell automatically, the code can be very simple.

    Another possibility is find find a fairly honest neighborhood kid to do it, and tell them to keep the page simple enough that you can edit it yourself. They are perhaps less likely to play these games than commercial businesses.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2022
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  2. Will Gilmore
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Location: Littleton, nh

    Will Gilmore Senior Member

    Definitely trademark your name and logo before you post a Website. Buy the registered domain yourself. It shouldn't be expensive and keep it renewed. There have been companies who have bought and maintained domain names with the sole purpose of reselling them to companies who actually use the names, but didn't own the domain yet. They sell at highly inflated prices. Sometimes, the search for an appropriate domain that's not already owned by someone else can be very frustrating.

    HTML isn't hard to learn. The code behind a Web page is easily viewed through your browser, so you can find examples everywhere of what you want to do. You can even try some of the online development tools, like WordPress and then see what codes they generate, to give you a better understanding or education. It is, however, time consuming.
     
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  3. chrismcg
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 28
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    Location: Cork, Ireland

    chrismcg Junior Member

    You completely lost me as soon as you mention things like HTML and code. I am young enough to be expected to know about all that stuff, but I have absolutely no idea about anything web related, or computer related apart from simple basic things. I don't even have a smart phone, that is how much of a technophobe I am. I have no interest in code or the ins and outs of the internet. Setting up a website is something that I have looked into in the past, but I couldn't get my head around domains and hosting and all that. I am not going to put time into learning about these things, for me there are far more interesting things out there to learn. I will get someone to do it all for me, but thanks for the warning about unscrupulous companies out there. I will get someone I know and trust to do it.
     
  4. mitchgrunes
    Joined: Jul 2020
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    Location: Maryland

    mitchgrunes Senior Member

    OK. I assume you know how to use a text editor or word processor, at least in a simple way.

    If you put your intended content in a document created with that text editor or word processor, it will help the person you know and trust a lot.

    Likewise, if you can take your own pictures, with a digital camera, it would help - but if not, the person will probably have a camera or smart phone with a camera.

    But there may be other things you might consider doing first. I personally normally wouldn't want to buy a boat without seeing it, or something very similar to it, that you had built. And maybe trying it out. So you may need a few samples, in very good condition, to show people. That can't always be true for some of the designers on this forum, who maybe design custom yachts for wealthy people who want something absolutely unique, but perhaps you plan to design and build for a somewhat lower end clientele, that expects to see what they are getting.

    There are also a bunch of legal hoops to go through, that I definitely can't help you with. If Ireland has limited liability corporations, maybe you should start one. A business license. Getting your designs certified to meet the rules of your government, as well as non-government trade associations, to reduce the probability of being sued or worse. Getting your location zoned and permitted to run a boat building business, and to display boats. Meeting building codes for a publicly accessible business. Arranging a site to put your sample boats in the water with customers. Licenses and insurance to take potential customers (and their families?) onto the water with you. Other insurance, for legal, personal and liability reasons, even if you have a limited liability company. Perhaps being licensed to export boats to Scottland, UK, and the Isle of Man, though that can wait. Etc. Finding out what accounting practices your government requires. I don't know all the hoops, or where to go to find them. You may need a lawyer just to figure out what you need to do. Governments and legal systems seem designed to make starting even a small business incredibly difficult.

    I'm not discouraging you - just saying advertising now might be putting the cart before the horse.
     
  5. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
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    Location: Washington

    Ike Senior Member

    Actually it's not that difficult. You can just start a Facebook page. Many companies do that as a start. There are a lot of high school or college students who would be thrilled to set up a website for you. You would probably have to pay them something but nothing on the scale of what professional programmers charge. Domain names are really cheap. I pay 24.98 a month for mine. I get mine through yahoo business essentials, which now belongs to Verizon, which, etc..... Anyway, they change their name and ownership like others change their socks. Whoever sets it up for you can do that too. And you can have them check it occasionally to make sure its' up to date.
     
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  6. mitchgrunes
    Joined: Jul 2020
    Posts: 145
    Likes: 39, Points: 28
    Location: Maryland

    mitchgrunes Senior Member

    Yes! A Facebook page is a great idea to economize. Facebook charges you nothing. The only problem is that they might display your competitor's ads on the same webpage. And, as I said, they encourage people to "like" pages, but don't allow you to respond to those likes.

    If you want your own web page outside Facebook:

    Definitions (not formally correct, but close enough)
    Domain name: the name of your website. E.g., this website is www.boatdesign.net.
    Domain registration: the ownership of your domain name, and placement in the associated directory of names.
    host: The computer(s) that stores your web page and makes it available to people who view it.

    Namecheap charges me $14.16 (USD) / year for domain registration, including a 3rd party fee paid to the company that manages .com domain names overall. They also charge me $1.88/month for basic shared hosting (in effect the computer(s) that store my web page and make it available to others). (They charge less the first year, as many companies do - but be sure to look long term.)

    But if I had a great deal of "traffic" - i.e., many thousands of website reads / day or more, or if I had millions of images on my website, or if I wanted the server to do much more than service the web page - e.g., if I wanted to use it as a full-blown remote computer - I might need to move to a more expensive plan. There is no initial account set-up fee.

    However, if you have videos online, you might need more. Videos chew up a lot of resources, and should probably only be used if you really need them. They also make your web page slow and expensive for some people on smart phones, and other wireless Internet users, to view.

    At a guess, if you are only talking about selling the number of boats that you personally make, and are going to only do enough advertising to do that, you can make do with the lowest tier hosting account.

    BTW, I'm not endorsing Namecheap. Perhaps there are better choices. But they are big enough to be unlikely to die in the near term, a problem I've had before with cheaper companies. I've never had a problem with them. They have a tech support phone number, and answer it. When I did briefly try another hosting company, they helped me transfer my domain registration to the other company, at no charge.

    Namecheap supports domain names ending in ".irish", for about the same price, but they do not support names ending in ".ie" - so if you want that, you need another company. Is ".irish" commonly used in Ireland, or is it mostly for tourists from abroad?

    Another sneaky practice that I neglected to mention: some companies, if you check if a domain name is available, promptly register it without being asked, then refuse to let you use it through another company, and/or, if you don't use it through them, sell the domain name to your competitors, or even worse, to a site that is not family friendly. AFAICT, Namecheap doesn't do that.
     
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  7. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
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    Location: Washington

    Ike Senior Member

    Yes you have to be careful. A few years ago someone tried to sell my domain name to a company in china. Fortunately the domain people at ICANN ( Homepage https://www.icann.org/ ) caught it and asked me if I had authorized it. So make sure whoever you get your domain name through is legit ICANN is the organization that controls the internet domain names. I think they are located in the Hague.
     
  8. chrismcg
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 28
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    Location: Cork, Ireland

    chrismcg Junior Member

    I've never seen a .irish webpage. I didn't know that such a thing existed.
    The most common here would be .ie, there is some .eu and a few go for .com.
    The good thing about .ie is that you have to prove that you have a presence or at least some connection to Ireland to get one. That makes it more difficult for anyone to hoard names.
    I will get a website sorted out when I have a boat made, but I know I won't be doing it myself. I have enough to do at the moment and I am a firm believer in outsourcing tasks like this to someone who knows what they are doing. The job will be done quicker and the result will be better. I'll stick to building and repairing boats which is what I do best.
     
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  9. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    A good, and cheap, way to advertise is in newsletters from Yacht clubs and sailing centers. They only send them to your target audience: sailors.
     
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  10. Will Gilmore
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Location: Littleton, nh

    Will Gilmore Senior Member

    Sport Fishermen. Same idea, +1.
     
  11. mitchgrunes
    Joined: Jul 2020
    Posts: 145
    Likes: 39, Points: 28
    Location: Maryland

    mitchgrunes Senior Member

    Had you allowed your domain registration to expire? That's one of the most common scenarios.

    ICANN headquarters are in Los Angeles, USA.
     
  12. Matatout
    Joined: May 2022
    Posts: 21
    Likes: 2, Points: 3
    Location: Montreal

    Matatout Junior Member

    I got myself an old project boat because they don't really make small nice looking boats anymore... Really looking forward to see what will come out of your shop... Too bad your an ocean away...
    Bass boat, Jon boat's, they are very common and they don't make me look twice... A windshield, some nice curves, something unique will definitely get my attention...
     
  13. johnnythefish
    Joined: May 2016
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    Location: E.A.

    johnnythefish Junior Member

    Have you thought of building a line of Panga type boats … here is my rationale … 1) they are becoming quite popular as recreational boats outside the U.K./ Ireland because they make a lot of sense - low power requirements, seaworthy, easy to trailer etc.

    2) No one else in the U.K./ Ireland is making them - so you would be a natural place to go in an expanding niche market. When someone does further research on Pangas they will find plentiful good reviews of them online. That is free advertising that you don’t need to come up with.

    3) they are different enough from conventional UK/ Irish craft to get people curious and talking about them.

    4) Long and skinny is not great if you are paying mooring fees by the length, but if you are storing a boat in your garden, light, easily transportable and easy to put on and off a trailer are big bonuses.

    5) I can’t help but think a Panga style is a good compromise for UK/ Irish weather - the ability to maintain a middle speed between planing and displacement as the weather gets worse is a good thing

    6) I think there is quite some scope to do something relatively unique around the Panga hull in terms of cabin/ space to get out of the weather.

    Just some thoughts…
     
  14. chrismcg
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Location: Cork, Ireland

    chrismcg Junior Member

    I'm open to anything really. I wanted to start with the small fast angling boat because that is the boat I want for going out fishing. The other reasons for going with this boat I've already outlined above.
    I would also love a panga though, and I think that they would indeed fit a niche, especially on the inland waterways here (which incidentally I only just discovered the joys of last year. completely different to the wild Atlantic I'm used to.).
    I built RIBS for a number of years and some of the hull moulds had inserts that would give you the option of pulling a 5.5m or a 6.5m hull from a 7.5m mould. I imagine I could do the same with the pangas, cutting down on the expense of multiple moulds.
    They would also be a lot less complicated than the boats I had planned so I might get around to them faster too.
    I'll look into it and see what I come up with. I have been working on my design skills for a while now and this would be another idea to draw up.
    Thanks for the idea.
     

  15. chrismcg
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 28
    Likes: 13, Points: 3, Legacy Rep: 36
    Location: Cork, Ireland

    chrismcg Junior Member

    For some reason my brain translated panga into outboard powered cargo canoe and I went away and posted the last post with that in my head. Pangas of course are a different beast altogether and well suited to the Atlantic.
    I like the look of the pangas, but I'm not sure about making a version smaller than 19feet. I don't want this project taking up too much space in my workshop for long periods. If I was to make a panga shorter than the average 20-22 feet I'm not sure it would have the stability that people like here. They seem to have an average length to beam ratio of about 3.5:1 which on a 16 foot boat (the biggest I'm willing to dedicate space to at the moment) a beam of about 4.5 feet.
    I'll have to think on this for a while and do up some drawings.
     
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