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How do I go about starting a business?

Discussion in 'BlackHat Lounge' started by Allie Albatross, Jun 15, 2010.

  1. Allie Albatross

    Allie Albatross Junior Member

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    Stop right there! Before you start accusing me of neglecting to search such a question, I have already done so. The results I were presented with weren't what I was hoping to find. If anyone out there on the Internet remembers me and my failures, I've come a long way in my life as of now. I'm employed at my minimum-wage job, making $7.50/hr, working at Taco Bell right now. I attend Community College part-time and am on a steady track of furthering my education, albeit at a slow-rate. Anyways, I can't remember the last time I logged into BHW. The whole Internet Marketing game took a tole on me and I just couldn't stand the frustration and loss of sleep of trying to put the "spin" on methods, wondering why spam-like pages were making more than my cleverly designed ones, etc. I still don't feel like I'm ready to get back in the game (I know it requires a decent amount of money upfront, that which I don't have at this point in time) and am focusing on my own skill-sets first. However...

    Time and time again I've wanted to make a business out of teaching the older generation, computers and have never known quite how to get started. I spent all of last night dabbling in Photoshop, trying to make some grand logo for my non-existent business, but I failed at that. I couldn't come up with a company slogan or how to arrange such a website. All I know is that I want to teach people computers, starting at the basic level. I do not intend to teach a Grandmother how to over-clock her custom built rig or trouble shoot her BSD Server software. No, that's not for me (not yet anyways). Does anyone have such advice? I know of one particular user on the forums that's an ideal candidate to answer my questions (I don't remember his username), but he's always spitting out Offline methods.

    I also cannot seem to visualize exactly how I would earn a steady income and pay my employees. Would my employees get paid by the hour, with a $50 fee slipped in that would go to me? For example, John is appointed to familiarize an individual with his new Macbook. John charges $35/hr and the customer agrees to pay for a 5 hour lesson. After 5 hours, John writes an invoice for said customer.

    John
    Company Name

    Surcharge Fee: $50
    Hourly Rate: $35 x 5 Hours
    Total: $225

    John would be pleased with his easy income, while I would get $50 for theoretically doing nothing. That's the best business model I can come up with. I'm not interested in the complexes of registering an LLC or W-4 Tax Forms as I'm pretty sure it's going to be a one man company until I understand what I'm doing and build a client base. Can anyone provide suggestions or help? Thanks:)
     
  2. BassTrackerBoats

    BassTrackerBoats Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    I think you would be best served going to your local score for business advice like that. They have a lot of retired people that offer advice on setting up a business, financing it etc.

    hxxp://www.score.org/
     
  3. Allie Albatross

    Allie Albatross Junior Member

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    What about just finding business? Would putting up Craigslist advertisements be a waste of time? How about a vinyl on the back of my car? Things of that nature. Also, would I need a teaching plan for this? I'm no Teacher, I'm just the "Go-To" guy for Tech Support :/
     
  4. BassTrackerBoats

    BassTrackerBoats Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    Finding business should be a piece of cake... make some flyers in word, print them and place them on bulletin boards where retired people live.

    I have a condo in a 55 + community and I get asked all the time the simplest questions from my neighbors when I am there.

    I doubt CL would work well because these people are not computer literate just yet.
     
  5. Allie Albatross

    Allie Albatross Junior Member

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    Are you sure that would work? Why do I envision an elderly person, who carries an oxygen tank, not being interested in learning how to setup a blog? Craigslist isn't that difficult though, or do I say that due to my knowledge?
     
  6. tacopalypse

    tacopalypse Executive VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    offline business is similar in a lot of ways to online business. you still need to basically just get traffic, and convert the traffic.

    for a business model:
    you place some local ads, people come to you with computer problems, you fix said problems, you get paid, rinse and repeat.

    there's plenty of stuff in the offline marketing forum as well.
     
  7. BassTrackerBoats

    BassTrackerBoats Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    They don't go to craigslist... the elderly for the most part. Also, you would be surprised how many younger old people live in those communities. I'm 53... one of the youngest owners there.

    There is a massive amount of 60 - 65 year old people living in those places... a blog does interest them so they can have their children and grandchildren keep up with what is going on in their lives.

    They need help with email, setting up a wireless router, uploading pictures, setting up a file structure, installing any software at all. I helped a retired accountant build a website to sell artwork that his wife produced... another guy I taught how to use MS Word... the opportunities, if you are looking to do this, are almost endless.

    Younger people grew up with computers so it is second nature to them... those of us that did not had to rethink the way we think in order to live in that world. A lot of people are unable to rethink the way they think and will gladly pay for the help.

    I don't charge my neighbors as for me that would be bad form. They'll always want to pay me and I'll tell them that they owe me a drink... or they can buy my wife flowers... or they can give my dogs a treat when they see them.

    There would be plenty of work if you just let them know all the things that they can do.
     
  8. w84it

    w84it Regular Member

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    advertise in newspapers, definitely not craigslist. I don't think someone who knows/uses craigslist will need help with computers.
     
  9. orangeblossoms

    orangeblossoms Regular Member

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    If you wanna target the 55+, I would not recommend CL either. One of my aunts in her mid 60's goes to a community center to learn English and computers. I'm sure she knows how to get on the internet by now, but CL would be too complicated for her.

    I would study what places are already offering computer lessons in your area, whether they're mostly private or group ones, and go from there. Figure out what they're not doing, offer a FREE first class, print something up, distribute where people you're targetting would see them (like where they like to spend their free time).

    It's kind of the same idea as creating info products. For ex, my mom wants to learn how to use gmail so she can email her sister (long d fees are expensive). She also gets a lot of cruise ship info that she wants to forward to friends in her aerobics class. And she loves all those powerpoint emails with slides of pics, but she doesn't know how to open them.

    If you offered her an easy class showing her how to do all of the above, and then also provided a printed step-by-step guide with screenshots to follow (because they're not going to remember it the next day), then she'd prob be happy to pay and continue to take more lessons.

    Start off teaching the basic class yourself, get some feedback and build up your rep, and then worry about how to hire employees and pay them (again, depending if it's private or group lesson, the structure will be different).
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2010
  10. Allie Albatross

    Allie Albatross Junior Member

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    I appreciate all the responses. Here is what I plan on doing. I'm going to setup two advertisements in the newspaper. Two different domain names, both linking to the same page. I'm hoping I can utilize each link to see which one converts better and hopefully figure out why. The webpage will be a simple, black and white, large-text website. Short, simple, and sweet. It will dictate what I do, who I am, my services, cost and my phone number. No navigation, just one page. I think that should suffice. I'm not sure about flyers, not sure where I would hang those up at. I also guess each customer will be charged differentially, depending on what I'm supposed to teach, the distance traveled and how much of my time is locked into actually teaching them. Not to mention if it's difficult for me or not.

    Does that sound good? I believe the general notion around here is that nobody really knows, it's up to each individual to find out on their own?
     
  11. BassTrackerBoats

    BassTrackerBoats Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    You will miss a large part of your possible clients that way. Put the ad in the paper if you want but just put your phone number in there... not a domain name.

    You are targeting people that do not shop on the internet... they will make a phone call though. Some of them will not even know what to do when they see the domain name.
     
  12. Allie Albatross

    Allie Albatross Junior Member

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    Alright, I just hope my cell-phone doesn't get cut off by then. I just checked the Austin Statesman, it's $260 for a 4 line advertisement, that lasts 30 days. That's pretty outrageous if you ask me. Guess I have to hold off everything, as I don't have that much laying around. Oh Fudge >_<
     
  13. BassTrackerBoats

    BassTrackerBoats Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    Do you have any of those free newspapers they throw on the lawn in your area?

    They are cheap to advertise in and get very good results.
     
  14. Allie Albatross

    Allie Albatross Junior Member

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    Actually, I wouldn't know. I just moved to this city. I will check H-E-B tonight though, when I go to pick up my friends from work. I know they have those newspaper stands. Thanks for that one, I didn't even think of that.
     
  15. theconfidenceman

    theconfidenceman Regular Member

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    the pennysaver and other free throwaways are good for what you are selling. offer a free seminar and have them call a 24hr recorded message where you sell them more covering what cant fit in the newspaper ad. have them leave a mssg to register or call another number to register. additionally you can offer the free seminar thru adult clubs and community groups. most local papers will give you decent press if you are offering free classes. at the free class you include a workbook and maybe a CD which includes your contact info and offers for reduced price products and services of course talk about other things they can learn thats not available at the free seminar. at the back of the room you offer training CDs and books and toher stuff.

    old people are essentially looking to watch, listen to and download movies, songs, programs and share photos and stuff with their family. thats what you are selling.
    not computer classes - thats boring. watch movies for free online etc etc.

    good luck
     
  16. BassTrackerBoats

    BassTrackerBoats Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    I own an interest in a computer sales and service company... I am not actively involved in the company, I just put up the money but I do know that we advertise in those and it is a very good return on our money.

    I can't offer a lot of details because I am not involved int he day to day but I believe we pay 18.00 a week for an ad and the ROI is very good.

    I think the name of the paper is the pennysaver but I am not positive as I do not even live anywhere near the store.
     
  17. Allie Albatross

    Allie Albatross Junior Member

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    Woah woah woah, wait, what? Are you suggesting I teach individuals how to pirate music and video? Won't I get in trouble for that? Won't I get a lot of "Isn't this illegal?". Unless I didn't understand exactly what you said.

    So offer a free seminar (I'm not sure about that so far, I have the knowledge, I just don't know if I'm a good teacher). I want to practice on 1-on-1 coaching first, to get the hang of things. So, anyways, free classes? I then make money how? Through the workbooks? Which contain what exactly?
     
  18. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Executive VIP Jr. VIP

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    don't discount the flyer idea. Just print some up and keep them in your car with you. Whenever you see a bulletin board anywhere then put one up.
    Churches, grocery stores, community centers, senior living centers, bingo halls, etc.

    They will cost you virtually nothing and will probably get you better results than the expensive newspaper ad.
     
  19. dontcallmebuzz

    dontcallmebuzz Newbie

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    I also totally agree with BassTrackerBoats and the others on here. My whitehat business is geared toward the 55+ crowd, and overall they just want the basics on computers and the internet. (as an example my website has product info, ordering, etc- yet I still have most of my customers call my 800 number for a catalog by snail mail and they snail mail their orders in)

    Also, reaching them thru advertising/marketing these guys are right. This market group still reads newspapers, etc- they just aren't as plugged in the under 35 crowd

    And starting your business- just like anything else start slow and build your way up- Do a lot of research before getting into "employee" stuff-
    thru experience, I have learned employees are a headache. Everything form interviewing, scheduling, all the additional paperwork, (w-2, w-4, I-9) additional expenses (workers compensation insurance, payroll taxes, unemployment taxes, etc, etc etc)
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
  20. theconfidenceman

    theconfidenceman Regular Member

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    keep in mind this is only 1 business model; the free seminar and offer upsells while they are there. It is more cost effective to sell in groups than 1-on-1. You set yourself up as the expert and they will look to you for more info. Its a very effective model. Most of the folks that check the back of those papers are looking for free stuff and things to do. remember the most powerful word in the english language - FREE.

    So you get a bunch of people to show up at the YMCA or whatever. You tell them all the cool stuff they can do with their computer, briefly cover the basics; show them google, youtube, grooveshark, watchmovielinks, ebay, craigslist etc etc mention all the other really cool stuff but dont tell them HOW.. and tell them you're available for in depth 1-on-1 training, where you cover creating accounts, downloading stuff, sharing files, watching movies, tv shows, cable etc etc

    or you can simply do the 1-on1 thing.

    but what Im saying is your angle or selling point is not "computer training" because the market for that are folks using that to enhance their careers or get jobs. You want to go with the sexy stuff-- the stuff people REALLY get computers for - to get shit for free, find information or to sell/buy stuff, connect with friends and family, get email etc. etc.

    anyway, that my take. at the end of the day, you will have to test several models to see which one works best. And hopefully hit one that works before you go broke.