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Requesting Business Advice (How to go about starting it)

Discussion in 'BlackHat Lounge' started by Allie Albatross, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. Allie Albatross

    Allie Albatross Junior Member

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    Hello All!

    I've had an idea for weeks now, and have yet to implement it. I can't really seem to comprehend the entire picture, it just isn't clear to me. I wanted to receive feedback from the BHW community, on some general questions I should ask of myself, to help me sort out my business idea and carve a pathway for me. With that said, here is my idea. I live in a small community. The population was 2,358 at the 2000 census. I guess you would call it a retirement community, which to me, means lots of elderly inhabitants, that most likely still use Dial-Up and AOL to gain access to the Internet. That is where I wish to monetize. I want to start a business, in which I offer computer consulting, just the basics for now, to see how this all works out. If I could get the business started, then of course I would move more onto advanced topics, such as overclocking, programming, internet marketing (I wish :D), and more.

    In order to even begin to make this a reality, I know I will need some start-up capital. At the moment, I have about $1000 in my savings account. I did a little research on my competition, and only found one opponent, a low-budget looking website, that charge an outrageous $70/hr, for simple tasks such as setting up someone's cellphone, *rolls eyes*. I work part-time at the moment, the night-shift. When my shift is over, I head straight home for the computer. I've been doodling design concepts, logos, company names, just not getting anywhere. Believe me, if I had the funds, I would have hired a designer ages ago. I want to tackle this one step at a time. I really don't know what I'm doing, and it's not as if there is some book on it (I've looked :p).

    About getting money, I've tried Article Writing (coming home from manual labor to type away at the computer...that's not for me, I can barely see straight), Cookie Stuffing (the community I was involved with seemed to have dwindled away), and starting up mundane desolate blogs that nobody visits, begging people to sign up with my affiliate links. I'm at a stand point right now, so that's why I'm writing this. I'm really starting to see that Internet Marketing fits the 80/20 rule, 80% actually taking action, 20% being skill.

    For the interested, I've uploaded an image of some of the things I've been working on, just to prove that I'm indeed telling the truth. Those random shapes are logo concepts. I'm really proud of the Bunny Theory one, but just the logo, everything else was just copied (I still did the work, but it's not original), it's from Squarespace. The image is at the end of the post.

    Any comments and advice would be greatly appreciated. Should I just stick with this part-time job, until I gather sufficient funds to hire a designer? Do I add Article Writing into the mix?

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2009
  2. callmelucid

    callmelucid Regular Member

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    go for it. i started my business as a sole proprietorship just to look professional. i didnt make an llc because that is $800+ in taxes a year (stupid california). just look at whats best and go down to your counties office and do a fictitious name look up.

    from there register for one. after that, you might have to report to newspapers for a few weeks. if so, they should give you instructions. after that, open up a business account. i started one at BoA and they gave me $50 free :). then apply for an EIN with the irs (just google it... its free and takes like a minute... you just have to wake up early).

    once you are done, you are legit and good to go! good luck!
     
  3. grafxextreme

    grafxextreme Regular Member

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    I believe that you're on the right track...

    The first thing I would tell you if you were a client of mine is to put your $900 some place safe and not use it for business. The best thing you can do for yourself is to think LEAN. Pretend that you don't have any money then ask yourself how you're going to build your business. This requires creativity on your part but it's doable.

    Second, sit down and really think about what you want to offer. You don't seem to be focused, just yet. You want to do computer consulting, perhaps help with computer set up, perhaps do logos? You have to be laser focused in order to achieve your goals.

    Third, once you decide what you want to do you'll have to decide who your market niche is. You mentioned seniors...then it's time for you to go out and do some research. Find out what problems they're having and why they're having them. What solutions are they really looking for?

    Fourth, how do you make contact with them? Your competition is spending hundred of dollars on newspaper ads and yellow page ads -- how can you get free advertising? This might be as simple as writing (outsource) articles for your local newspaper or senior magazine. Or, creating an alliance with the local "mom pop" computer store you could be their "Geek Squad". They handle repairs and you handle their customer service.

    Fifth, decide how much you can charge and how much your niche is willing to pay. You could put them on a monthly retainer of $35/mo or $99 down and $15/mo.

    Sixth, find ways to relieve you of the work. You can host videos for them to watch explaining how things work. You can provide them with ebooks, reports, etc... You can review clickbank software and include your affiliate link. You can hold free and paid seminars.

    You can do all of this without touching $900 of your savings.

    Something to consider...
     
  4. biks

    biks Power Member

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    How do you go from helping gramps with his computer to overclocking?

    Lets establish something here: you want to make money off of 2,358 elderly people by helping them with their computer. This is cool and fine. Why do you need to do any Internet Marketing? Since your market is all grouped together, WALK to your potential clients and sell them your skills. Word of mouth is the best marketing method on the planet. You can certainly NETWORK with these people for free. Save your money.

    Now...you're planning on going to each of your clients homes and work with them, right? Have you ever attempted to do phone support with the elderly? Jesus Christ...keep all firearms out of reach and in a safe place. You'll be compelled to put a bullet in your head after a half hour of this.

    Me on the phone to my elderly mother: "MA!! It's called a BROWSER WINDOW! Do you even know what it IS? WHAT ARE YOU CLICKING ON?? What-does-it-say-at-the-top-of-the-screen?

    I may have to put my mother down if she has any more problems with her computer.
     
  5. Allie Albatross

    Allie Albatross Junior Member

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    Hmm, okay. The first step is easy enough, pretend that I don't have any money. Are you telling me to lower budget, or literally, pretend I don't have a dime? Think creative, I've got legs to walk to clients, I've got the smarts, and I also have the pen/paper to write the bill.

    I literally sit down and think about it every single day. I don't want to do technical support, atleast not yet, I want to train people how to use the computer. I mean, sure, they can check their e-mail, but do they even know what a hardrive is? The Office Assistant at my High School had no idea that Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V existed, I boosted her productivity by a huge margin. I know I don't wish to design, I'm not a designer. I put my self in the shoes of teachers, the fact that they have pre-written general guidelines, of what course to teach, and how to divide it in chapters. I'm fairly certain I'll have to do the same, otherwise I'll walk in, and ask "So, what do you wish to learn"?

    How am I supposed to do that? You don't really expect me to go door to door, asking random people if they are experiencing any computer trouble, and/or wish to increase their general knowledge of them, do you?

    Well if my budget is low, I guess I would just call them, or e-mail them. I can hang fliers around franchises, my bestfriend's Father is a real estate agent. No computer stores here.

    I don't want to infinitely charge them, after my service is done, what would be the point? Sure, more money for me, but what would they be getting out of it, besides another bill? Unless your referring to me being on call, 24/7.

    This part confuses me. Are you saying create these things, and while I'm taking a break with client A, I can be teaching client B, whilst client A pays for, and continues to view, these DIY videos? Sounds good to me.

    No, you misunderstood me. I'm not going to be helping people change the oil in their car, I'm going to be teaching them how to do it, how it works, best oil, etc. I want to do both, sure, but for now, I'm sticking to Teaching, hopefully keeping it Q/A.
     
  6. KodiakApprentice

    KodiakApprentice Newbie

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    If your talking a "brick and mortar" style computer tech service let me tell you some of my experiences...

    I did just this... I was a rent-a-cop at a 600 gated retirement community...they found out I had skills and I went from being a rent-a-cop who did computers on the side to a computer tech who did security on the side who eventually quit security all together.

    These are my rules.. they are not necessarily the blackhat way but its how I grew a sucessful business that I willingly walked away from.

    1. Stand behind your service. If you tell someone your going to do something for a price do it no matter how long it takes.. it might suck to work 20 hours for 50 bucks.. but it builds a relationship and repeat customers are your meat and potatoes... it also builds word of mouth advertising.

    2. Charge a fair price for what your doing. I realise that places like geek squad charge 200 bucks to reload a computer.. lets be honest any one of us should be able to do that in 3 hours flat if theres no problems.. charge what should be charged not what you can get (atleast at first)

    3. Show up on time.. be professional... have your prices ready before you face down a client.

    4. FREE CONSULTATIONS - find out what their problems are and see if your capable of helping them.. give them an idea of what you can do for them and give them a quote UPFRONT.

    5. there are places like vista print that offer 250 business cards for under 20 dollars.. utilize this

    6. Once you have your relationships built and your word of mouth is spreading.. (I went from 1 community of 600 homes to 8 communities ranging from 200 homes [10million dollars + homes] to communites of 2000 homes [around 250k per house]) Jack the prices up slowly.... If you take a frog and throw it in boiling water it will jump out... put it in luke warm and turn the heat up slow and it will boil before it realises its in trouble

    Finally make sure you have a plan.. I dont know how it is where you live but you can for 50 bucks.. if you put it in your real full name I.E. the business is "Mark Walters Tech Services" to start your business.. Reserch this in your area.. another 50 bucks will get you a DBA do business as.. this can let you call your business something else.

    Use microsoft word to make a good looking invoice page too print them out as needed

    if your going to be legit and not under the table like i was starting out keep track of your income and try and keep your income limited to a seperate bank account for tax purposes...

    Thats about all I can say... I want to add this is my personal expierence and I in no way give any warranties on this information for anyone but myself... if you screw the pooch its your problem don't quote me ;)