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Old 06-02-2008, 08:37 AM
 
Location: Texas
5,070 posts, read 8,785,511 times
Reputation: 1627

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rapture View Post
I think it's a great idea and I know several people that can use that service. Just get insurance for liability and maybe suggest to people to do a backup of their info. before you get there? If they don't know how, then offer it as part of your service. Maybe have an attorney draw up a contract they must sign explaining what you will not be responsible for.
I thought I'd write my own agreement and then let the attorney take a look and make any changes or additions he deems necessary.
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Old 06-02-2008, 08:42 AM
 
Location: Texas
5,070 posts, read 8,785,511 times
Reputation: 1627
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTR36 View Post
I tell you what I could use. Someone who could set up a wireless network in my new home. We had a friend of ours set up one in the last house, but then I don't know what I did that I messed up the security password and could never get it to reset!! I need someone to do that for me. So there's an idea for you.
I am going to have to break down and call AT&T to come out and set the network up for me.
I've had to learn the hard way about wireless networks, and I still don't know it all. Our provider won't touch anything having to do with the network. They tell us that all they are responsible for is the modem. Hopefully your AT&T service will be more helpful!
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Old 06-02-2008, 08:48 AM
 
Location: Maryland not Murlin
8,188 posts, read 21,797,463 times
Reputation: 6116
This sounds like a good idea, and I know that people like Geek Squad remain pretty busy.


Getting into Linux would be a good idea as it is gaining in popularity at a fairly steady rate, although Linux is not really for the typical home-base user.

The only thing that I would recommend is this; never start up a business with your own money.
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Old 06-02-2008, 08:58 AM
 
Location: Maryland not Murlin
8,188 posts, read 21,797,463 times
Reputation: 6116
Quote:
Originally Posted by janb View Post
I would be very pleased to never see another ICON (guess I'm not cut out for MAC...)
The only real difference between OSX (Mac) and Linux is that you have to buy an Apple machine to run OSX(and then pay for any future version of OSX) (most Linux operating systems, and programs, are free). Other then that, they have the same basic architecture and free 'Linux' programs can run on Macs under OSX's X11 feature (X11 is the freeBSD core of OSX). You can't just download a Linux program and run it on Windows.
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Old 06-02-2008, 10:15 AM
 
24,843 posts, read 31,342,457 times
Reputation: 11428
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian.Pearson View Post
Good points. I think I'll start out with just putting my toe in the water, then see what happens. I may give customers my cell number, instead of getting a separate line, but for awhile, I'll be at my normal job. I won't be able to answer my cell, while I'm at work; cells phones are not allowed there.
Keep track of all these expenses!!! Now add your internet.
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Old 06-02-2008, 11:29 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,916 posts, read 51,541,974 times
Reputation: 27897
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTR36 View Post
I tell you what I could use. Someone who could set up a wireless network in my new home. We had a friend of ours set up one in the last house, but then I don't know what I did that I messed up the security password and could never get it to reset!! I need someone to do that for me. So there's an idea for you.
I am going to have to break down and call AT&T to come out and set the network up for me.
CTR36, post your problem over in Science/computers. You may get some free help.

Brian, I'm not sure I'd be comfortable advertising tech support without having the education and experience. It can be done, but there are a boatload of issues that can thwart you, and turn what seems to be a simple problem into a nightmare.

I wrote a niche software program a few years back that was quite successful. As part of my business, I've had to do phone tech support for the product and basic support for the hardware. I'll give a couple of examples of problems that are not discussed, but exist.

First - Never try to teach an opinionated 70 yo woman how to use a mouse - over the phone, and THEN try to explain how a spreadsheet works. You'll find some people out there that you'll not be able to please. Those are often, for some strange reason, the ones with the unsolved problems, and the come hither and rescue me attitudes. You'll have to learn how to politely dump them or have them drain your time and energy without recompense. When you can't make their computer do the impossible, they WILL blame you and badmouth you.

Second - more and more home computers are networked and have some sort of network related issues. These problems are often less rewarding than dissecting cat fur balls in search of mouse wishbones.

I learned LONG ago, that as far as my customers were concerned, I had to stop offering network support over the phone. I was literally spending hours trying to fix problems that could only be solved on-site by a network guru. Ask any competent network admin if their job is really needed to keep a network running, and be prepared for a big sigh and a rolling of the eyes. It wouldn't be too bad if you could learn a single skill-set and work from that, but the rules and programs and operating systems keep changing.

Third, hardware issues can be freaky and frustrating. I could detail a story about just slightly failing hard drives, or about another about a user who had installed half a memory chip pair, but I think that just mentioning those possibilities might caution you that the work is not always the easy slap in a disk, blow off the dust, job that you might think it is.

I recently had a customer try to find a computer with two working LPT ports. With my guidance, he found a fairly good tech, and an older computer, but even between our combined experience, my literally rewriting some of my software, and enough money to buy a decent new laptop, we couldn't make that computer work properly. I ended up having to construct one locally and risk shipping it via UPS. (I've found over the years that about 10% of computers I shipped ended up DOA, forcing me out of supplying hardware except under extreme duress.)

With costs increasing for gas and food, I'm having to consider doing something locally like you are considering, to add to our income. I'm NOT looking forward to it. Good luck in your venture, but be forewarned.
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Old 06-02-2008, 01:47 PM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,505 posts, read 49,704,162 times
Reputation: 24555
K-Luv

How do you start a business without spending your own money? How do you find anyone careless or crazy enough to invest in your startup and not their own? I'm serious, how do you start without spending most or more than all of your own money?
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Old 06-02-2008, 09:01 PM
 
Location: Texas
5,070 posts, read 8,785,511 times
Reputation: 1627
Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
CTR36, post your problem over in Science/computers. You may get some free help.

Brian, I'm not sure I'd be comfortable advertising tech support without having the education and experience. It can be done, but there are a boatload of issues that can thwart you, and turn what seems to be a simple problem into a nightmare.

I wrote a niche software program a few years back that was quite successful. As part of my business, I've had to do phone tech support for the product and basic support for the hardware. I'll give a couple of examples of problems that are not discussed, but exist.

First - Never try to teach an opinionated 70 yo woman how to use a mouse - over the phone, and THEN try to explain how a spreadsheet works. You'll find some people out there that you'll not be able to please. Those are often, for some strange reason, the ones with the unsolved problems, and the come hither and rescue me attitudes. You'll have to learn how to politely dump them or have them drain your time and energy without recompense. When you can't make their computer do the impossible, they WILL blame you and badmouth you.

Second - more and more home computers are networked and have some sort of network related issues. These problems are often less rewarding than dissecting cat fur balls in search of mouse wishbones.

I learned LONG ago, that as far as my customers were concerned, I had to stop offering network support over the phone. I was literally spending hours trying to fix problems that could only be solved on-site by a network guru. Ask any competent network admin if their job is really needed to keep a network running, and be prepared for a big sigh and a rolling of the eyes. It wouldn't be too bad if you could learn a single skill-set and work from that, but the rules and programs and operating systems keep changing.

Third, hardware issues can be freaky and frustrating. I could detail a story about just slightly failing hard drives, or about another about a user who had installed half a memory chip pair, but I think that just mentioning those possibilities might caution you that the work is not always the easy slap in a disk, blow off the dust, job that you might think it is.

I recently had a customer try to find a computer with two working LPT ports. With my guidance, he found a fairly good tech, and an older computer, but even between our combined experience, my literally rewriting some of my software, and enough money to buy a decent new laptop, we couldn't make that computer work properly. I ended up having to construct one locally and risk shipping it via UPS. (I've found over the years that about 10% of computers I shipped ended up DOA, forcing me out of supplying hardware except under extreme duress.)

With costs increasing for gas and food, I'm having to consider doing something locally like you are considering, to add to our income. I'm NOT looking forward to it. Good luck in your venture, but be forewarned.
Thanks. I've planned to stick only with what I know. I won't be wandering off into country that would be better served with a technician who does have education under his belt, whether it's a guy who has worked with computers since the Commodore and the "Trash 80" or someone who has gone to a technical school. They can have the more complicated stuff.

For now, I'd be happy just getting the customer's machine clean and keeping it that way. Also, since I've had experience with RAM, I can do that as well. I'd go to crucial.com, let their programming scan the computer to determine the proper RAM, then the customer can use his credit card to pay for it. Just a little KISS business where I'm comfortable doing what I know.

I'd certainly be smart enough to avoid the pitfalls you have described. I've considered finding someone who would be a competent tech like yourself, to whom I'd consider referring the customer who had issues beyond my comfort zone or experience.

BTW, speaking of the Geek Squad, I've heard stories about them -- not all of them are people I'd trust. They aren't always up to the task and some are nosy. I wouldn't want anyone caught exploring beyond whatever is called for on the job. It would be a bad reflection on me if I were to refer a customer to someone who oversteps his bounds.

How does that sound?
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Old 06-02-2008, 09:23 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,916 posts, read 51,541,974 times
Reputation: 27897
As long as you are upfront in clearly stating your limitations, you might make a success of it. Don't overstep you knowledge, and be ready to pass the challenges off to someone else. Pride goeth...
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Old 06-02-2008, 09:42 PM
 
27,015 posts, read 38,276,182 times
Reputation: 34970
Check with the Secretary of State for your state and find out if you can set up an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) which is what I did. A good lawyer can also help with this. My definition of a good lawyer? The one I called. He talked with me for half an hour about my options and explained why I should go with an LLC. This was on a call he returned and before I ever visited his office - no charge for the half hour BTW. Good lawyer.

An LLC limits the liability to the business and protects your personal assets. I had that lawyer set me up with the papers for about $750 and the state charges for registering the name, etc. was about another $100. Cheap protection. Both for liability and the business name. If you don't register with the state and someone else wants the same name all they have to do is register it and you are SOL.

I have a second line for the business and all it does is roll over to my cell phone. Less than $10 a month. Gives you a number to hand out and privacy at the same time. My land line doesn't even ring, it just passes the calls along.

Go to Goodwill and look for a couple of inexpensive computers. Use them to get comfortable with adding/removing RAM, power supplies, motherboards, add-in cards, etc. Quick way to expand your business.

If you run into a tough one tell the client you need to take their PC home because some of the tools/software you need you don't carry with you (or don't have with you today) and head for Google! It's amazing what you can find with an Internet search. BTW I do 99% of my work at the client's site.

Go for it. If you're like me you'll end up going to play all day on other peoples toys. And get paid for it!
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