Computers, like everything else, wear out over time. While unfortunate and costly, it can be turned into an opportunity for someone that knows computers and networking well enough to repair them and rescue people's information and media.
If you have a technical background and an expert understanding of computers, peripherals, and software, a small business in computer repair and maintenance service could be an option for you.
As with any venture, there are advantages and disadvantages. Initial costs, licensing, certifications, and relevant business knowledge should all be considered before starting your business.
If you are considering starting a computer repair and maintenance business, make sure you remember these advantages:
- Basic start-up costs should be minimal. If you already are an IT professional or otherwise, and are experienced with computer repairs and maintenance. You likely already have much of what you'll need.
- You have a large target market beyond only individual computer owners. Many small businesses or home businesses do not have dedicated IT departments and rely on contracts with outside vendors.
- Contracting with small businesses, if you are able to do so, can provide a solid foundation of regular work for your business. If you do good work for them, they will be apt to keep using you and refer you to others.
- You can choose how much or little you want to work. Your business can be a side job to earn extra cash, or it can be a full-time career once you've built up a large enough client base.
Although the pros are significant, there still are some potential challenges you may face when starting a computer repair and maintenance business. They are not too difficult to overcome:
- It's not enough just to have the technical knowledge and skills. You'll need good communication skills. You have to be able to translate your actions in nontechnical terms for those that are not as technically inclined.
- Marketing your business is always expensive. In order to acquire clients, you need to let them know you are out there. You might want to network with business owners in your community and establish a presence online with a website, social media campaign, and advertising.
- You will need to purchase and maintain your own tools and testing equipment. Basic computer repair tools—such as screwdrivers, power supply testers and grounding straps—are not that expensive, depending on the services you want to provide. Some equipment, such as an oscilloscope if you are wanting to test and fix individual components, can be costly.
- You may need to be a business license to perform repair services. Check with your state to determine exactly what you'll need. If nothing else, registering as a limited liability company will keep your business and personal assets separated, in case of legal issues.
- You also may need insurance and to be bonded since you may be entering clients' homes. Again, check with your state to determine exactly what is required.
- Some clients may want you to be certified to work on their systems. Some common industry certifications are ACMT and CompTIA A+. It is helpful to have some networking certifications as well if you'd like to work on business networks. CompTIA Network+ and CCNP from Cisco are a few of the more common certifications.
Some Business Acumen
It may be worthwhile for you to brush up on some business practices, such as keeping records for accounting purposes and taxes and creating a plan. As the saying goes, a business failing to plan is a business planning to fail.
You might consider creating an initial plan for getting started, with some goals to work towards, and deadlines to meet. Work to establish awareness of your services through a marketing campaign, and plan some actions to build up your client base.
You might also consider looking over the local market and finding out what your future competitors are offering and providing. This can help you to develop a competitive advantage—something that makes you stand out from the competition. A unique competitive advantage will offer you a much-needed boost for your new computer repair business.