You get no leeway for being a Maker.
I know. You’re a good person, running a small business, maybe even giving away your intellectual property to the world.
It doesn’t matter. People are going to complain. They’re going to want more features and changes. They’re going to moan about your website and documentation. As open as your product is, people will want it be more open, and they want you to help them endlessly.
And the moment you charge a penny, it gets worse. People will expect Amazon-level service the moment you take your first order.
They’ll want cheaper shipping and special international customs treatment. If they work for the government they tell you that they shouldn’t pay sales tax and you have to become certified as a government vendor to enable that. If they work for a university, they want you to take purchase orders.
Every cliché applies: no good deed goes unpunished. People always look a gift horse in the mouth.
Maybe it’s only 1% of your customers who act like this. But because you’re a Maker and you’re all about openness and community, you’ve got forums and comments on your site, and as your sales grow that 1% can become a drumbeat of negativism that turns off new customers.
The solution? You’ve got to suck it up and get in touch with your inner zen shopkeeper. Patience, patience, patience. Count to ten, smile, and remember: the customer is always right. Even if they’re being a jerk.
#1 Make a profit.
#2 It takes lots of cash to stay in stock.
#3 Buy smart.
#4 Basic business rules still apply.
#5 You get no leeway for being a maker.
#6 Be as open as you can.
#7 Create a community to support and enhance your products.
#8 Design for manufacturability.
#9 Marketing is your job.
#10 Your second most important relationship is with your package carrier.