I have been building repairing and selling hand crafted guitars now over 20 years. I have made more than my share of business goofs along the way. Over the past couple of decades there has been a revival in the craft of lutherie. Many people have tried to go from a hobbyist to a business person in our craft. The truth is that less than 2% of those that attempt to make this jump succeed. While the failure rate seems daunting if you go in to it with an understanding of what is really required you have a fighting chance. Here are some things I seldom see talked about in posts when I read a post where a hobbyist proclaims they are going to start selling their work. First and foremost is to understand I am not talking about building a guitar for a friend. I will be talking about building and selling your builds to the general public. Also I in no way am giving leagal advise. I am only sharing my personal insight. Must do 1. Understand if you start selling your work to the public you are in the eyes of the IRS or other taxing agency a business subject to business taxes, license and other such regulations. You can get away for a while hiding the income you make but sooner or later it will bite you in bum. If you know you are going to do this then set up at least (for those in the US) a DBA (Doing business as/sole proprietorship). An attorney will charge you around $400 or less to set this up in most cases and can be set up by your self if you know how but paying an attorny is worth the investment (trust me). A DBA pays its self at the end of each quarter all revenue above and beyond operating expenses and retail tax liabilities if applicable. The profit from the DBA will be earned income on your personal taxes. You will also be personally liable for the business and any liability it may accrue. 2. Another option is set the business up as an LLC (Limited Liability Company) this option is more expensive to start, but separates the business from you personally. Depending on how you set it up you are a board member of the company and can be paid a salary that becomes earned income on your personal taxes and then at end of each quarter after the company has paid out all accounts payable and tax liabilities the company can choose to pay the board members and share holders if any a dividend that is earned income to the individuals or the company can hold this money as liquid assets for the company. An LLC shelters you personally (for the most part) from liabilities the company may accrue. 3. Set up books for your company and keep them. No matter if you choose a DBA or an LLC you have to track all income and expenses. Learn what your true cost of doing business is. Know and understand the difference in the cost to produce an instrument and the cost of being in business. 4. Learn how to market. This one skill can mean the difference in making it or not. 5. Know your stuff before your start. Many luthiers have produced a good quantity of instruments at impressive rates then found that they cannot live up to a warranty program Must not do! 1. No matter what don’t try to hide money earned from build and selling your work. There are many that have tried to do this under the table and have gotten away with it for years. IRS, State, County and Local taxing agencies may be slow but if nothing else they are persistent. When they do catch up to the fact you are doing business under the table, the price you will pay will be more than you can absorb and likely no just monetary. 2. If you are just starting out don’t take on more than you can comfortably produce. I know it is hard to turn down work but we all have limits. It is far more important in the beginning to keep the business small and produce great work. Even if your volume is not turning a noticeable profit in the early stages keep in mind that reputation in the lutherie trade is everything. Due to the internet one disgruntled client can wreck havoc to an upstart’s reputation. This one thing has probably ended more attempts at starting a lutherie business than any other single issue. This is by far nowhere near all that needs to be considered if you are thinking of starting a lutherie business. But you would be surprised how many times the things I have just mentioned are ignored as hobbyist attempt to make the jump to a business person.