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Starting a home business

By afram ·
Has anyone set up a home grown computer consulting business? I'm looking do general tech support/education for home users and very small businesses.

Does anyone have any tips or warnings of things to watch out for? What problems have you had?
Thanks!

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I did this in the 80s

by JamesRL In reply to Starting a home business

But I would imagine the same things apply.

Watch for people who don't pay. Net 10 days for smaller companies/individuals.

Don't stock too much - just the basics. These days most distributers can get anything to you overnight.

Your best advertising is happy customers - go the extra mile. But watch the fine line between going that extra mile and being taken advantage of.

Don't overpromise. Better to underpromise and overperform.

Keep your overhead low.

Understand your tax laws.

I'm sure others here have good suggestions too.

James

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Housecalls?

by jdmercha In reply to Starting a home business

If you plan on entering peoples homes or places of business, be sure to protect yourself as best you can with Insurance or bonding.

If you enter someones home and accidently bump into a $6,000 antique vase, will you have the means to pay for it? If you trip on their porch and break a leg, do you have medical coverage? If their house is borken into 2 days after you left, you may become a suspect.

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People do not pay without being prodded

by alece In reply to Starting a home business

First and foremost, I would set this up on a cash and carry basis for services provided. I cannot tell you how many times I have trusted a business to pay by accepting terms where I get paid from invoices and end up having to pry the payment out of their hands. I have even lost a customer for insisting that they pay a debt that was 120 days old. I would also get liability insurance and have a written signed contract before interacting with any business. If you cause a problem for a business that was due to your consulting work and you do not have a contract and insurance, you could really get in trouble legally and financially. I would also get a good accounting program to track all your income, expense, quotes,tax accounts and financial reports. I use Quickbooks 2003 and it is really good for tracking a business.

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Agreed

by Cactus Pete In reply to People do not pay without ...

Create an invoice [as professional as you can manage] to hand to home users, make them sign it. If you can afford the kind that are professionally printed and have tear-off copies, people are more likely to take you and their debts to you seriously.

For small businesses, have a contract.

Make sure you have a lawyer look everything over. It's worth it.

And for the first year or two, a tax consultant (accountant) is worth it.

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Don't Fix what not broken !

by shawn In reply to Starting a home business

I've consulted for small businesses for years. One of the things you will run into is the real lack of IT knowledge these owners have. You have to earn thier trust FAST.

I do this by offering an inspection of thier existing technology, preparing a 10-12 page detail of what they have and how it's all connected.

I then recommend changes and upgrades to anything that places the owner at risk of loss or intrusion. NEVER suggest upgrading something you don't have to. If it works, don't fix it !

Don't ever bad talk the old IT guy ! He may know less and he may be the owners son !

hmm, what else. Hand deliver your invoices the day you complete the work.

DO NOT INVOICE until everything is working to the users satisfaction.

I also make sure to keep images of thier workstations for fast recovery. Try not to take the computers off site for repair.


Hope this helps ! actually, I hope this is close to you question ! Good Luck!

Shawn Lanthier
www.lanthierconsulting.com

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