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computer building business


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#1
dynamite195

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I'm a high school student with quite a bit of computer experience. I am interested in starting a small side business that builds custom computers much like dell or alienware. I would probably use newegg, tiger direct, and sites like those for my part suppliers. My question is if anyone here has done something similar to this or is currently doing this as a job/business. If so, I would like some guidance as how to get this up and running. Thanks in advance
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#2
warriorscot

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The first thing you have to work out is there a market in your local area and can you compete with bigger custom builders(not as many in the US so you are lucky there) but there are still some so can you compete and what can you offer, custom cases on site tech support? customised programs, how much of an overhead will you have can you compete price wise. Also you will need seed money, enought o buy your first parts and cover damages and accidents and RMA time. How are you going to advertise, what experience do you have, you will need to seek some basic legal advise on how to set it up and cover yourself in case of the worst happening.

There is alot of steps, and really computer experience wont be worth anything if you are in competition with an established store that does custom building unless you can offer something special.
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#3
fleamailman

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The key part is trust, without it all fails. One idea is start a computer self help line for free in your area stressing on the self help side of it of which more often or not the client then learns that it is not as simple nor as quick as he or she thinks, which is usually the point where they said "Well, listen can you do it for me?" allowing you to demand your fee and cost of parts then; however, if you try to hide how it is done from the client, or refuse to help someone when they want to do it for themselves, that client will only think badly of you and go on to find out for themselves, whereas the simplest answer is just to introduce him or her to a site like here for example. Of course this approach depends a lot upon the size of you local area as Scot points out above, also there as many more ways of making money than just by building comps or installing parts, shall I continue this post then?

Edited by fleamailman, 05 July 2006 - 12:22 PM.

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#4
rstones12

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Here are a couple of things you may want to do before delving into your own side business. This may encompass more than the scope of what you are trying to do but it may help you get a handle on how to start.
  • Do a search on Google for "business plans", this will help formulate a go forward plan, and it is a great learning experience on how to set up a business.
  • You may want to search in your local community for some computer wholesalers, when purchasing through NewEgg or Tiger Direct you are adding to the cost of your product, they are third party retailers that buy from distribution. Such as:
    • Ingram Micro
    • Tech Data
    Those are only a couple that come to mind and are large enterprise customers... :whistling:
  • Know your capabilities and what you have to offer.
While those are only a few items it should help on your way.

rstones12
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#5
sarahw

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I do this from time to time, but i've found there is not much money in it. My problem is the computer store 5 doors down from me offers computer parts and repairs at extreamly low prices.
I do something close to what fleamailman suggested. I fix computers and don't charge except for parts. When I build a customer base, then I will try to expand on that. A friends company has network problems so I may charge a call out fee. Fixing it is proving to be hard on the phone or messenger.
The major problems are things like tax, buisness banking, broken parts. I need an Australian Business Number for recipts. Insurance eats any chance of profit.
An ad in the local paper might help you.
Offer something nobody else has or does in your area like custom case mods. If your really good you can incorporate a computer with toaster or something.
[attachment=9452:attachment]
Where I live there are huge computer fares every sunday all over the city, a small fee for stand and you can sell old/new parts, computers case mods etc.... but people are sometimes weary.
What I'm curremtly doing is making a few web designs, sell a few products on-line, but would need a customer base to really get anywhere.
Just a few thoughts for ya. :whistling: :blink:
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#6
fleamailman

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Teaching is interesting too. Often it is because we know something well that we feel that surely everyone else does too, but you would be surprised by the number of people who can't do things as simple as system restore, the hot keys, the run box commands, Word, Excel and the like.

Projects can be an earner too, some people cannot type and want you to, others want you to help them on the Internet to find out something. Photo albums to be copied onto CDs. Their home video casettes to DVDs. Helping parents with their children's homework. Translating, text editing, prouf reading(the one I need myself), and many more ideas are out there.
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#7
dynamite195

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Thanks for the replies. Some of the advice given is excellent. Where do I go about finding a wholeseller in my area? I have tried the teaching thing however it doesn't really suit me too well. How would I get jobs such as proof reading, system restores, etc? I have already done some research on my local market and it looks very promising. There are very few stores that offer this kind of service in my area and they are quite expensive. My question isn't so much is it possible to do this business, but more how to get it up and running. My overhead will be very very low as I will be running the business from home. I'm not looking to make a ton of money off each machine. But if I had 100 bucks I would be more than happy and IMO this is very doable. I am also very handy so the case mods thing is a good idea. I have a paint gun and all kinds of tools + experience in the modification area. Once again the question arises, how do I get these sort of opportunities? Thanks again.
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#8
fleamailman

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Print out cards with what you can do on it, some of those must go up on the local post office, newsagent, library, Internet cafe(if they will let you) whereever you feel, oh, and don't be shy about bringing it up in conversation but don't overdo that either, and always carry some cards on you. The big advantage of doing the free computer self help line is that it can get placed where paying stuff doesn't(rather like the spybot and adaware programs), if you have a phone get used to replying your logo for example "dynamite 195 self help line, how can we help you", create an email address too or use your present one. Stress the local side of it too, use the phone directory to find out who else in your area is doing (proof reading for example) not as competition but seeing if they need computer help, also hang out in one spot, I am often in the local coffee shop at set times doing my own projects(look nerdy, play the part). Anyway, the "don't"s are: don't give up, don't expect much to start with, don't say bad things of bad clients nor of the compitition(they might of you though), don't only do the work of other people(mix in your own work too, making you look busy regardless). I remember my boss at the counter when I worked in Geneva didn't know the first thing about computers but was polished salesman who time after time said "you have to listen to the clients" it took me a long time really understand what he meant by it thinking that it was just hearing what the clients were saying then.

Edited by fleamailman, 06 July 2006 - 06:49 AM.

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#9
frantique

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There are many sites giving all sorts of advice (probably too many!). Here are a couple I have on hand which I have found quite helpful.

http://www.enterprisequest.com/
and
http://www.smallbusi...6/04/index.html

There are some interesting (or not!) templates for business management and financial here.

http://office.micros...es/default.aspx

I've never looked for small business start-up assistance in the computer industry, however, you could probably do some searches and come up with some.

Rough out a plan and just start. You can adjust your plan as you go. Nothing has to be set in stone. If you're not planning to borrow to get started all that you'll have at stake is your time and energy so you can't lose because at the very least you will have learnt stuff. The biggest hurdle I can see at the outset is to cover yourself in case something goes wrong - eg you build a system for a guy who is running a business and he puts all his work on it and something goes wrong that was as a result of what you did and he loses a lot of business and sues you ... in other words you will probably have to look at paying out for some kind of insurance.

Maybe you could research the kind of things you want to offer in another state where you would not be in competition and select some similar businesses who are doing what you are planning to do and get in touch with them and ask for advice. Most small business people I know are more than happy to help others out if there's no threat to their business.

Good luck :whistling:
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#10
Johanna

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I seem to get calls when a. they can't get online b. the computer won't boot c. major thunderstorm (No one here has a UPS- for some reason people think a surge protector is okay, but that is another rant for another thread) Desperate people will pay a premium price if they are confident in your services.

Business cards help, a website is a good idea, but word of mouth means everything. An old adage in retail is that a happy customer tells 4 people, an unhappy one tells eleven. Make sure all your work is good and that your reputation never gets compromised. Learn to turn down jobs that will be more of a headache than a profit.

HTH
Johanna
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#11
rstones12

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And always remember the 80/20 Rule.

80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers..
or you could spin it this way.
80% of you headaches come from 20% of your customers.

Now you have to figure out which one works best for you..
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