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Computer consulting. Where to begin?

Discussion in 'Planning Your Business' started by Matt Crossley, Dec 7, 2015.

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  1. No, really. Where do I begin? I've been spending a lot of time researching prices/services from local service providers in my area, and feel comfortable in that I can meet their prices, and could possibly perform the same services for cheaper (home office, no employees starting out, etc.). But I feel as though I am hitting an entrepreneurial brick wall (effectively, writers block for the start-up mind). So here is where I am at so far:

    What I WANT to do:
    1. Provide computer solutions for individuals and small businesses (50 employees or less).
    A. Troubleshooting computer issues of all types (way to many to list here)
    B. Assist with database design and implementation
    C. Home network setup and repair
    D. General consulting (basically individuals and small business saying they want to do things a certain way, and having me review their plan and offer feedback)
    2. Excellent customer service
    A. I have called a few computer repair/consulting companies here in my local area, just to gauge service level and what not. It was less than stellar. Here are some of my notes from that experience:
    - No follow up
    - The tech never really explained anything to me so that I had a general idea of what caused my "problem"
    - I was treated as someone who was supposed to be handing over money at the end of the assignment basically (and this was from a few small businesses in the area)
    3. Cloud data storage
    A. This is a general idea right now in its infancy. It'll start to take shape as I begin to press further into the consulting field and can sell it as a service as well (I already have a home server/personal cloud built with open source programs, so it wouldn't be a stretch to expand this).
    4. Grow slowly/move slowly
    A. I want this to grow over time and be an experience, versus a rushed attempt to get my first business off the ground.

    Here is where I am at as far as attempting this:

    1. Website design. I am no expert, but can manage this myself. The issue I keep running across is what does it need to have/look like? I have the basics in the site already (submit a help ticket, ask me anything section, services guide and contact information).
    2. Business plan. This is coming along slowly, as I've never written one before. Trying to figure out the risk/reward from this process has been very benficial, as I now realize that this is a "low risk"/"low reward" with potential to move to a "medium reward" if it gains a bit of traction.
    3. Networking. I am struggling here. Badly. While calling these smaller businesses that I had come to my house to perform a service, I struggled to get on the owners good side despite many attempts (phone calls, visits to their office, etc.) I most certainly need to improve on this and any advice you can give would be appreciated. I know that I need to be persistant, but maybe I just don't know the right questions to ask.
    4. Advertising. So I am not only working on the website, but I plan to branch into the social media realm as well I have many connections via this route that already exist on my personal social media accounts so it could be a good tool to market my business. But what else can I do? Business cards, flyers, cold calling, etc I am sure. See below why some of those may be a problem for me.
    5. Working capital. So the kicker is, I need to make all of this happen with zero starting capital. I've heard from several of my entrepreneur friends that it just can't happen without capital in the beginning, but I think it is possible. So there is another question, is it? I have the equipment I need already, so that wouldn't need to happen.

    This was a lot, and I know I am forgetting stuff at this point, but this is where I am for now. Does anyone have any ideas on how I can maybe refine my services a bit more based on the info I listed above? I have 10+ years of experience working on computers, so I would consider myself more of a generalist in the field with a high level of experience. I just need to get over this hump and keep moving, but the more work I put it, the more it feels like this will never return the investment I am willing to put into it. I look forward to everyone's responses so that I can grow from this!
  2. William Clements

    William Clements Moderator Member

    If you want to have me look at your website and provide feedback and provide me the link. You may also find that it may help to have your business listed in our Business Showcase here as well
  3. Brian D. Evans

    Brian D. Evans Member

    I have done a ton of consulting and one of my companies even made it on the Inc. 500 list. What I can advise you is that being cheaper is NOT necessarily better. It's a race to the bottom. This could be partly due to why you are hitting a brick wall, that you are pricing yourself too low to stand out. I hate selling anything in a market where people are just looking for "cheapest" rather than quality, reliable, high-end work.

    I'm always a big fan of premium prices for premium services because it raises the perceived value.

    For example, when I consult with online startups I charge $xx,xxx absolute minimum (granted, they usually make 7 figures) so it's all relative. But by asking for more, and knowing I'm worth it, I can make more money from less customers. They certainly pay very close attention when I tell them I wouldn't consider working with them for anything less than $15,000/month. Also, they tend to follow my lead in much more detail than if I were charging $150 a month. And that leads them to great results.

    Maybe something from this will help you make yourself stand out and get more customers by pricing and thinking about it differently.
    EF-Roger likes this.
  4. Brian D. Evans

    Brian D. Evans Member

    Also, I second William. Feel free to send me your site and anything. I'm happy to do a free review and tell you what I would change to attract higher paying clients.
    William Clements likes this.
  5. EF-Roger

    EF-Roger Member

    Welcome yes! Post your website and let us look at it.
  6. Thanks everyone for taking a look at this thread and wanting to help get me going in the right direction. Unfortunately I haven't created the minimum 10 posts yet so I can't even give you the link. Feel free to send me an email at mcrossley85@gmail (that's right I can't even post my email address yet). Hope you can guess the rest. I can send you my link from there.
  7. William Clements

    William Clements Moderator Member

    Charging 15K or more, they sure will do everything you say/recommend. Those who are looking for consulting of such and pay that price really need it and they is not just a little bit of money. However, if you did it for $150, I agree that you would have a bunch of people paying it but they are not serious about taking any action. I done consulting myself in the past and have realized this as well.

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