Well, two years later and the pull of EVE has brought me back...much to the chagrin of my wife. I've spent the last two years playing other single player, (Egosoft's X-games and free games, World of Tanks), but I've been keeping an eye on the EVE sandbox. Finally, I couldn't resist anymore and resubbed both accounts.
Frankly, I was a little relived to see that I had left myself in a fairly decent, for me, position. Ready to run level 4 mission in a Domi, the capability to run both Tech 2 Sentries and Heavy, Med, and Light Drones. Most support skills at four or five and a whopping 70 million isk to my name.
So far, I've been focusing on Planetary Interactions to gather enough isk to give myself a cushion to develop further plans. Right now, I've got three characters working on extraction and gathering all the P1 material to one and making Sterile Conduits. I'm doing this P4 for a couple of reasons, and the biggest is it only needs two P3 items and at Command Center 4 I can put enough processors to run if 24 hours a day and still have room for the two launchpads I need to store the material. That makes 24 sterile conduits and they are buying at 831,000 isk per item. Now the hard core industrialist I've seen shows that if I buy P1 at sell prices (3840 per P1 item times eight P1 items needed) and when add the additional costs to import the P1 and export the P4, I'm still making an approx 3-4 million isk a day. Which isn't the most spectacular return on investment, but it does many people in EVE (including the "hard core traders") often overlook one critical fact...cash flow and cash velocity.
From a pure efficiency perspective, I should be buying 19,200 units of each P1 asset and running them through five factory planets. That would net me $20 million isk per day, for virtually the same amount of time. A great plan if you have the necessary cash flow to pull it off, you would need an approximate 80 million isk per day to do that, and you would have a sufficient supply of P1 on the market to buy...and producing 120 P4 per day would quickly saturate the market. Assuming the market continues to bear this influx of P4 materials (or assuming I shift P4 production between the various products) the "manufacturing planets" are a good use of time...I made 20 million isk per game day (total increase in cash reserves for my time played).
That said, if I take all my P1 extraction and if you pay the tax for 24 items (135,00 per conduit + 50 per P1 to export and 25 per P1 to import = total P1 tax of 5.5 million isk). That leaves a total cash flow of 14.5 million isk per day, with only a 5.5 million initial isk outlay, much more manageable for an industrialist with a limited cash reserve. Now don't get me wrong, there are plenty of other ways to go about this, I could just sell my P1 for someone else, I could try and bull my way into the Enriched Uranium or Rocket fuel or POS fuel component market and I will definitely take a look at doing that, however, if your a starting character (who didn't buy PLEX) with a limited budget, do not get fooled by all the major producer's blogs. Product efficiency is a goal to have, but at the early stages of the game, cash reserves and cash flow, particularly cash OUTFLOW, is just as critical. I'm not being the most efficient right now, but I am building a cash reserve that will allow me to do so in the future. If you take a look at real life businesses, most fail because they have a poor cash flow position and soon can't cover the cash outlay needed to buy their basic materials, they then open a credit line which exasperates the problem...you can't do that in EVE, but you can put yourself in a position where your assets are not liquid and your production grinds to a halt because you don't have the cash to place an order or buy anything.