spikegifted - Random thoughts
1) Competition: Have you check out your competition in your surrounding area? Don't forget, friends, family and referrals will only keep you surviving for so long, after that, you'd need to find new business. Is there existing competition in your local area? How good are they? Don't underestimate them and you mustn't overestimate your own ability.
2) Hidden costs: As SnowGhost rightly pointed out, these costs are not things you can forget. If you're in an area where there's good competition within the sectors he's mentioned you can probably pick out a good professional with minimal fuss and at a great price. However, if you're in a small village with little professional support, you'd be hiring them from out-of-area. Time is money and you'd be paying for their gas also. Even if you've a good accounting background, keeping your own accounts is not much fun and sooner or later, you'd help. Anyway, you still need a CPA to sign off you annual accounts.
3) Are you going to like it: I know we all interested computing/IT stuff one way or another in this forum, that's a given. We are either computer enthusiasts or IT professionals or both at the same time. Both being a computer enthusiast and an IT professional can be considered 'disinterested' - meaning there is a time you can put it down when you want to. If you work in IT, you walk out of the office and you're done. If you're building a rig for your relative, you can get a drink, watch a game and fit it around your own schedule. All this 'disinterest' will disappear when you're working for yourself in the IT business. You can't put it down when you leave your office as the business, in a certain way, defines you. You can't fit work around your schedule because your customers have their own schedules to work to. In essence, the moment you open your own shop, computer/IT is no longer an interest or a hobby or a skill you put down on a piece of paper - it is everything!
It is the third problem that I stumbled on when I was looking into starting my own shop. For me, my hobby cease to be a hobby the moment I depend on it as livelihood. You may not have the same problem, at least to begin with, but somewhere down the line, you'd need to give thought to that... Consider your options carefully.
August 9, 2003
Build yourself a business model. I'm not preaching you some business school BS, for a business model is extreme useful both as a part of a business strategy (how to survive) as well as a feasibility study of sort.
It doesn't have to be big, nor does it have to be all singing, all dancing, but it has to be realistic. Why a business model? To build one, you need to do research of your market (including your competition, direct or otherwise), you have to understand your cost structure and you have to know where your revenue comes from. If you can build a realistic business model, it means that you've taken into consideration most of the things you need to think about for your business. It'll go a long way towards convincing people (including yourself) to commit the capital needed to start the business.
And we can put all this together into a book and call it "2CPU.com's Master Class: How to set up your own little computer business'!!
August 10, 2003
There're thousand and one shops catering for modders and what not. However, I have to give you credit for opening a broader picture - "own a niche".
August 13, 2003
As a small computer business, it is a fine act to balance between getting the client base and pushing your luck...
A friend of mine has a small computer hardware business here in London. Every time he has a customer who comes in with a specific software problem, his reply would be: "We don't really deal with software problems, only if it is hardware drivers or related things." A while ago, I asked him why he turn away potential customers who have very simply and easy to fix problems, he promptly reply with a single word: "Licenses". He went on to explain that he doesn't want to be held responsible for facilitating or harboring piracy by helping those who've pirated software. And I have to agree with him...