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Starting a tech business


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#1
pyron81

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After constantly reading about starting my own business I am finally ready. But most of the books and people I have talked to only offer "general" advice which is fine but I'd like a little more information. I am thinking about running a general computer repair/technically support from my home.

I am hoping someone on the forum can offer me some advice in terms of:
*Pitfalls of running a computer business
*Marketing advice
*General Guidelines

Any help anyone can offer I appreciate. I would prefer if it was someone who owned a small to medium computer business but any business will do. I am just looking to get out there and hoping someone will offer some resources to help me out. I am based out of Hammond, Louisiana.

Thank you for your time,
Patrick :whistling:
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#2
coachwife6

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Good luck.
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#3
Max-T

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I offer small tech services to my local neibouhood, as to advertising I leafleted a small area to start off to see what kind of feedback i would get then i started making a website and did some more leafleting. Most of my buisness is extreemly local ie the streets around my house.
all i would say is that if this is your major source of income then try and create a website quite fast and get some good advertising, also think about the rates you chage most of my customers turn to me because i charge much less then most computer repair stores, i charge £8.50 an hour plus expenses if i order equpment for them. so go to some local computer repair shops have a look at the prices/
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#4
pyron81

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Thank you Max-T. I appreciate your input. Every little bit of advice helps.
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#5
SRX660

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Buy this booK and read it 5 times. After the 5th time you will understand that you had better love what you are doing because you probably wont make any large amounts of money at it.

http://www.fonerbooks.com/compbiz.htm

A couple good tips from the book.

In a business, failure is unacceptable. This means you will be expected to know every problem about every computer ever built.

The safest thing you can go into business selling is your time. Set your prices and stick to them. If the customers don't like your cost then they won't use you. At the same time you cannot live on $10 a hour.

Don't depend on hardware parts selling for the money. Its expensive and at any time you can be left with obselete parts which don't sell well. Stick with the basic hardware you will use during repairs. These will always sell and you can buy them and have them delviered to your door in 3-5 days.

I started 2 computer businesses before reading this book and they both failed. I do run a part-time business right now while i still have a full time job. I have a 10x12 shed on my property that i have setup exactly like a store front. It lets my customers know that i am very close to a real store. They see the attitude i have about a store and most like what they see. These people also know that i have been living in the same place for 15 years so i'm not going to just close up shop and leave. Its the little things i hint about like a sign i had made saying the business was established in 1989( well a couple of businesses ago, anyway) and they comment on it.

I could say a lot more but the book really says it like it is.

SRX660
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#6
pyron81

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I am ready for failure. Thank you for guiding me to the book I will indeed buy it.

Just out of curiosity why did you former two businesses fail? According to what I have read very few fail due to lack of money....most out of lack of time or just inspiration.

What type of marketing do you do besides you store front? :whistling:
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#7
Johanna

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It is very important to identify who your customers are going to be. If you specialize in networking, you don't want people calling you for websites. Always remember that a happy customer tells 4 people, and a disgruntled one tells eleven. Sometimes you have to eat your profit or take a loss to protect your reputation, because your word has to count for something. Learn to recognize customers you don't want. I spent 10 minutes on the phone with a man the other day who insists that his "software is bad", but he couldn't tell you what application is giving him trouble, and his real problem is that he has malware. Some customers you simply don't want.

Others you do- I ran a custom leatherworking shop for 15 years, and I made a good living, but no one was as eager to lay down cash as the folks who can't get online, or think they lost their family pictures. A client's desperation can be proportional to your fee, especially if you need to drop everything else that you are doing. I do tech support for grandmothers from my church. They don't pay what businessmen do, but they are super sweet to me, think I'm a genius and feed me home made cookies. Some fringe benefits are not as tangible as the IRS would have you believe. Once you know your market, cater to them. Make things easy for them. read the manual so that you know what you are doing and don't waste your time. If you agree to fix a computer, have a description of what you intend to do and the applicable charges, and have the customer sign it so you know they agree with your plan. You need a "hold harmless" disclaimer in there, too, because they won't understand your reasonable explanation if something goes wrong, no matter whose fault it was. This contract will CYA if something goes wrong. Negotiation is optional, but keep in mind, do you argue with the plumber?

You can generate goodwill by providing basic education when possible, and the added benefit is less dumb phone calls while you are in the middle of something else. If you doubt whether they can pay, skip the job. It's not worth it. Your biggest asset is being able to make smart diagnostic decisions without wasting any time. If you need to brush up on your skills, consider community college courses or other continuing education. Time is money. If someone calls you with a job you don't want to do, or you know you aren't prepared for it, decline it. Giving out the name of a better qualified colleague will earn you respect, and save you aggravation. Advertise in the phone book, signs, flyers, local newspapers, and pass out your card to get the word out to your community. There is a man running a shop in my village, and he is so busy he has waiting lists, and I kid you not, he didn't know the difference between an AMD processor and an Intel when a friend and I visited his shop and quizzed him. None of my neighbors would know, either, but that's not the point. Don't even think about becoming successful until you are confident that you know your stuff.

It is cheaper not to have a storefront, and in computer repair/building/sites you can get away with that. If you don't operate a cash business, you may qualify for tax reductions on portions of your home expenses. See an accountant to get the best advice for your situation. If you aren't doing much volume, it might be cheaper to call your venture a "hobby". If you are more than that, see a financial planner for advice to work out your goals, and how it benefits you best to set your business up. You cannot go wrong writing the whole proposal on paper, so that you can get professional advice without confusing your expert. When figuring overhead, in addition to inventory, you need to take into account insurance, taxes, utilities, hardware/software expenses, advertising, and your time. If expenses add up to more income than you project, and you don't have investors or a trust fun, consider reworking your plan until it's achievable.

People never fail unless they try. And, you cannot fail if you learn something for the next time. People who never fail are boring and have no courage. Best of luck to you!
Johanna
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#8
SRX660

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My first failure came from a great lack of real knowledge about computers and a arrogance that i could do anything. I spent a great deal of money opening up a store with plenty of hardware for sale. It did not take long until my ideal location costs started eating into my living wages and i shut it down.

The second time around i spread myself too thin making contracts with small companys for upkeep on systems. The money was good but i was doing repairs at all times of the day and night because i did not have the foresight to specify that i was not on call 24 hours every day. I spent many 12 to 16 hours shifts in the middle of the night trying to make the systems work because the companys did not their people being disturbed during daylight working hours. Most of the fixes were for viruses and bad programs the workers downloaded and no matter how hard i tried to stop their actions it didn't help and the companys many times would not back up my policys. I finally just no longer renewed the contracts until all i could do was go back to a regular job to make a living.

I now am only part time and it seems i am quite busy spending around 20 hours a week just working on repairing computers. I am limiting myself here simply because of the full time job. I am constantly trying to improve my skills in troubleshooting and software repairs. Hardware has become quite easy now and it seems i have become a parts changer rather than a repair person. I can assemble a computer from parts and be installing the OS in about 2 hours now. I do have a specialized workbench i built just to do this so all parts are within easy reach and everything i need is in one place.

I am happy where i am now and am using "Geeks to Go" to improve myself even more. Soon i will be ready to retire from my regular job with a pension and will devote myself to the computer business full time.

I also like what Johanna says.

SRX660
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#9
pyron81

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Thank you all for your advice and replies. I will use the advice given to continue making my way to independence over time. :whistling:

Thanks again!
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#10
frantique

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Just one other thing ......

I am ready for failure.

I assume you mean that you have considered the possibility and not that you are "ready" for it. Remember thought precedes energy ... so your thoughts need to be solely about success! Good luck Patrick. :whistling:
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#11
pyron81

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hey frantique,

No what I meant by that comment is that I think a little bit of failure is in everything. Without it we would not learn from our mistakes. One of the first things I really grabbed a hold on was one of the books I was reading that said first don't be afraid to fail....and second don't be scared to NOT know something.

I think I am ready. My mind has been set for sometime. I've just lacked the motivation to really get up and going but its there now. Sometimes I just need that reminder.

:whistling:
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