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Computer Support Biz Pt 2: Personal inventory for success?

By ReginaldJPriest ·
Greetings,

I read the thread started by EMJ "Computer Support Business?" as mentioned, and it was certainly illuminating. I would appreciate getting a finer-grained take from those who are engaged as owners in this kind of business; voluntary career & biz counseling, if you will.

I have been trying to get a business like this going since early this year and it's been quite frustrating.

For marketing: I attended chamber meetings regularly for several months. A complete waste with little success. The main attendees are sort of a salesdroid & cocktail party clique and I didn't feel like I fit in. I advertised in a local glossy "shopper" magazine (similar to http://www.reachmagazine.com ) and gained several home customers and one business customer.

I bought and plowed through the following course: http://www.computerconsulting101.com. The marketing techniques he advises have not worked for me at all. Part of the problem is that I have almost no local personal or business network to bootstrap with.

I've handed cards and brochures out like crazy to many supposedly well meaning acquaintances. Absolutely no referral customers.

My background: software development in a shrinkwrap SW and engineering environment. No retail or B2B sales. Bachelor's in engineering. Age: mid 40s. Well spoken, but not salesy at all. I have done freelance SW development since the early 90s but the amount of work has drastically turned down, forcing me to consider this option as a natural progression of my tech abilities.

I would have thought when I started this path that the fact that "computer support" in general is a subset of what I've done professionally before, that I would find it fairly straightforward going. The exact opposite is the case. (PS: I'm not denigrating computer support with this statement and I'm not one of those "architecture astronauts" who disses hands on work. I have built my own computers, installed and administered Windows & Linux beaucoup times, set up my own networks, coached friends and relatives out of messes numerous times, etc. And I have succeeded in all of the few client support engagements I've taken on so far.)

I am prepated to dig in for the long haul and do what it takes to succeed and build a customer base, but finding a starting point has been elusive. Just landing enough customers to make it meaningful has been almost impossible so far.

Ideas?

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Food for Thought

by willcomp In reply to Computer Support Biz Pt 2 ...

As stated in response to your first question, I'm in a very small town, but there are some things that apply across the board.

1. List in the Yellow Pages. Means you must have a business phone. Costly but gives you credibility and people still look in the phone book for repair shops.

2. Advertise in the local paper. Lets people know you exist.

3. Have a storefront or rented office space if possible. Working from home is fine for consultants and on-site techs, but not for general public access. An analogy: would you take your car to a mechanic who works in his home garage?

4. Outside of network installation and administration, the money now is in service. I de-louse about 3 or 4 PCs a week (adware/spyware/virii) and that is pure income (no parts, software is freeware). PC repair also has a decent return.

5. Look for regional or national contract service companies that provide on-site or carry-in warranty service. If you get your name in the phone book, odds are some will find you.

6. There ain't no money in selling PCs unless you are solution provider. I still build a few because long time customers prefer mine to Dell and Gateway and I prefer to build my own small network servers. Note I said build, not buy white boxes. By ordering components, can build custom, high quality systems with top notch components. Not necessarily state-of-art, but reliable.

7. For service work, stock basic parts or have ready local access to same. Memory, FDDs, HDDs, power supplies, 80 cm fans, socket 370/socket A CPU coolers, fans for socket 478 CPU coolers, NICs, modems (biggie here, replace several after every severe thunderstorm), Cat 5E cables, keyboards, mice, optical drives. Start with limited amount and increase/decrease stock based on experience.

8. Have OEM copies of every version of Windows from 95B thru XP Pro.

I could go on, but that's a good start.

I'm not rolling in dough, but I enjoy what I do, work my own hours (long), my boss is very understanding, and I stay mentally sharp.

Dalton

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