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Joey122

Offering Local Computer Support As An Investment

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Hi All,

I m thinking of opening a local computer support company to help with Networking and software problems as well as general advice on how to use applications

I work as a developer and dont really make enough money so this might subsidize my income. I went to university and did a computer science degree if that helps

Can anyone comment on where I should be doing my advertising to get customers?

All the people I know are pretty computer savy and would not pay for help but there must be some people who need this service?

Any ideas?

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Hi All,

I m thinking of opening a local computer support company to help with Networking and software problems as well as general advice on how to use applications

I work as a developer and dont really make enough money so this might subsidize my income. I went to university and did a computer science degree if that helps

Can anyone comment on where I should be doing my advertising to get customers?

All the people I know are pretty computer savy and would not pay for help but there must be some people who need this service?

Any ideas?

Joey,

Here is my 2p worth from an old hand.

Having worked in IT for a long time (I cut my teeth on the IBM XT) there have been a lot of changes. There used to be a lot of money in support, but most people now have a "friend" (who often knows enough to be dangerous) who to call on. There is certainly opportunity there to make a bit of money, but pick your customers carefully.

The real problem is, most people want something for nothing. I advertised for 6 months in my local rag, and while I made a bit of money out of it, often it was a case of having to backup a PC, re-install XP or whatever and restore all the data and applications. Easily 3-4 hours work for little return. As people often don't have the original copies of their software (pirated from "friends") this would end in tears as they expected me to use illegal software - something I was not willing to do. Small businesses are notoriously tight, using illegal software and not wanting to pay the going rate.

Hardware support is very tight on margins - you might be able to make £50 tops on a new PC build, more if they want something special. While that might seem a lot, don't forget you are responsible if something breaks (e.g video card or hard disk). By the time you get a returns authorization from from the supplier, pay for the spare out your own pocket and wait for a refund, that profit can quickly vanish. Upgrades can be profitable, but again take into account the amount of time it takes to perform. More RAM or a video card is straightforward, a new hard disk not so.

Word of mouth is a good way to get business, and to be honest most of my better jobs (i.e. those I have actually made money on) have been through that. Supporting friends is always an issue as they expect you not to charge or maybe just pay you a token amount.

I stay clear of support now, unless I can be sure that I can make a clear profit without too much grief or it for a friend who isn't going to take the you know what. PC World charge £50 an hour, which might seem excessive, but in reality it is to cover their costs. If you charge less than that, point out to the client this is an hourly rate and you will charge them pro-rata. This will get rid of the time wasters. A good line is setting up wireless routers and broadband access - make sure you secure the boxes properly though.

What I do make money on is web development. Set up a decent hosting account (which will cost about £350 - 500 pa) and charge them £75-100 pa for hosting. When you add in the cost of building the site (Anything from £250 -£!500), and they will come back to you for mods and upgrades over the life of the site, there is a decent margin in it.

In reality, HP, Dell and even BT are now in on the support act (And even they have problems making money with tight margins) you need to look at your market carefully.

As to advertising, WOM is best. I have spend money in the past, and the returns are always hit and miss. If you get an entry in Yellow Pages, your are inundated with calls from sales people. The local rag generates some business, but is expensive if you advertise every week. Television is out of the question. One tip I had from a business adviser who was really switched on is local radio - it is not cheap, but seems to be the most cost effective in generating quality leads. You could also look at the cheaper end of the market, Micro Mart, Exchange and Mart, Loot etc. When I was self employed in the 80's, I made a really good living and I didn't place a single advert.

Unfortunately, as another IT friend of mine said, the public are happy to pay £50 an hour for a plumber or an electrician, but baulk at paying that for a time served, qualified IT engineer to fix their computer. While I personally wouldn't charge that much, I agree with his sentiments and experience has proved that to be true.

Training can make money, but again you need to examine your market carefully. What I found is that if a company is not willing to pay a decent amount for support, it is unlikely they are willing to train their staff either. A possible opening is one to one training at peoples homes, it keeps your overheads down and if you set a fixed price and provide a good service, the word of mouth principle can be your advertising.

I hope this helps.

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I'm also a developer. Earns me reasonable money. I charge £25 p/hr in Cornwall which is generally about 20% lower paid that the rest of the UK.

I used to do IT support as well, but would rather put my head in an oven than go back to it! I have a degree in IT and did the Microsoft certification. The last job I did actually cost me money and I was almost sued for loss of data once. Also, you will be competing with complete cowboys - I say competeing, but actually, from my experience they will be getting all the work.

Add to this the fact that you will spend 90% of your time dealing with email problems, printers and antivirus software it isn't the most interesting work. Oh, and you will have to deal with people who shouldn't be allowed within a mile of a computer!

Hope that puts you off!

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You need to look for a new job or find a better development niche. I'm a developer, and earn way more than support people. I've worked with loads of support people who have gone into development, not the other way.

I don't know where you live but I'm being deluged with job adverts for 30 - 40K, which isn't bad money.

Alternatively look to starting your own software development business in your spare time.

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What's your main programming language? Perhaps you need to change it?

Failing that, how long have you been out of university? I had a fairly poor salary initially that I probably could've got in McDonalds but it only takes a couple of years experience and some proof of enthusiasm for the job to be able to get into that £30-40k bracket.

I did look at computer support type work but I'm not convinced there's much money in it for the hassle, I think most people either don't know anything about computers and don't want to pay for anything or they know someone who'll help them out for free.

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What's your main programming language? Perhaps you need to change it?

Failing that, how long have you been out of university? I had a fairly poor salary initially that I probably could've got in McDonalds but it only takes a couple of years experience and some proof of enthusiasm for the job to be able to get into that £30-40k bracket.

I did look at computer support type work but I'm not convinced there's much money in it for the hassle, I think most people either don't know anything about computers and don't want to pay for anything or they know someone who'll help them out for free.

Its Java and Sybase and I m three years out if university -

Yes its 40K about, but after student loan and tax and living in London , theres nothing left at the end of the month :(

I was hoping to do this to subsidize my income - 50 pound a call out a few times a week tax free shoudl be pretty decent?

What do you think?

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I'm also a developer. Earns me reasonable money. I charge £25 p/hr in Cornwall which is generally about 20% lower paid that the rest of the UK.

I used to do IT support as well, but would rather put my head in an oven than go back to it! I have a degree in IT and did the Microsoft certification. The last job I did actually cost me money and I was almost sued for loss of data once. Also, you will be competing with complete cowboys - I say competeing, but actually, from my experience they will be getting all the work.

Add to this the fact that you will spend 90% of your time dealing with email problems, printers and antivirus software it isn't the most interesting work. Oh, and you will have to deal with people who shouldn't be allowed within a mile of a computer!

Hope that puts you off!

Interesting stuff - Can I just ask where you get work for 25 pounds an hour?

Is it your own gig? Is there a steady flow of work? Are you contracted out?

I want to pack London in and move out to the sticks :)

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Its Java and Sybase and I m three years out if university -

Yes its 40K about, but after student loan and tax and living in London , theres nothing left at the end of the month :(

I was hoping to do this to subsidize my income - 50 pound a call out a few times a week tax free shoudl be pretty decent?

What do you think?

Java should pay £500/day to a contractor with 2 years commercial experience.

Contract rates are the same in the provinces as in London so only a fool would contract in the City. How the hell does anyone survive in London on a salary?

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Yeah, I'd agree - move out of London on a similar salary and watch it go a lot further or stay in London and charge at a daily rate. Sounds like you've got all you need on paper if you can make the jump one way or the other.

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Unfortunately, as another IT friend of mine said, the public are happy to pay £50 an hour for a plumber or an electrician, but baulk at paying that for a time served, qualified IT engineer to fix their computer. While I personally wouldn't charge that much, I agree with his sentiments and experience has proved that to be true.

This is very true. I work in software support (specialised software rather than just windows) but I can relate to this having helped family members. I can spend hours fixing something, only to be blamed when they next get into trouble. Support work doesn't get you the same respect as plumbing for some reason and it can be very frustrating trying to teach someone who is very slow to click around the screen.

I thought about offering freelance support as a way to earn an extra few quid but was worried it could be too much hassle. It's interesting to hear about web development being worthwhile. I thought there were too many people doing this for it to be profitable. I would imagine it's more interesting work though apart from the "IE vs other browser" differences.

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This is very true. I work in software support (specialised software rather than just windows) but I can relate to this having helped family members. I can spend hours fixing something, only to be blamed when they next get into trouble. Support work doesn't get you the same respect as plumbing for some reason and it can be very frustrating trying to teach someone who is very slow to click around the screen.

I thought about offering freelance support as a way to earn an extra few quid but was worried it could be too much hassle. It's interesting to hear about web development being worthwhile. I thought there were too many people doing this for it to be profitable. I would imagine it's more interesting work though apart from the "IE vs other browser" differences.

I d much rather do the web design then support simply because it is *much* more interesting :).

I wonder how people can get their first client on board - Thats what is holding me back really

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  • 295 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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