Help me start a small business!!
November 16, 2005 10:25 AM   Subscribe

I want to start a small business setting up small office and home office LAN networks (wireless setups, XP or Office training,consulting, etc) but have no idea where to start.

I don't want to put Geek Squad out of business or anything but I think there are alot of people that are getting high speed at home and office and don't have a clue as how to share their connection with multiple pc's or even how to properly use their PC to do common tasks like online banking, etc. And perhaps they would mind paying someone a reasonable fee to learn or setup for them. I'll need information on business licenses, bookkeeping, etc.... thank you
posted by stevyb to Work & Money (8 answers total)
This is way too open-ended for you to get an answer here.

There are entire sites devoted to this and you can find many just by googling "start small business." Licenses and things vary by state (assuming you're in the US), you can either look at books from companies like NOLO press or whatever resources your state provides online.

Check out the Small Business Administration website. Lots of links and info there.
posted by phearlez at 12:41 PM on November 16, 2005

Just. Start. Doing. It.

Don't file a DBA. Work under your own name, by yourself until you figure out if there's enough work to keep you employed.
posted by Wild_Eep at 12:44 PM on November 16, 2005

Yeah, the first thing that you need to make sure of is that you've got business. All of the licenses and whatnot can be cleaned up once you've got the cash flow and whatnot to pay attention to; the laws are pretty flexible on those matters as long as you don't have employees and are the only one doing things for the business.

Get clients first.
posted by SpecialK at 1:16 PM on November 16, 2005

I would highly reccommend sticking to offices as potential clients, not homes. They have a much better idea of what a "reasonable fee" is, and they're much less likely to expect you to spend hours installing 19 different kiddie games they bought off the CompUSA discount rack that aren't even compatible with their vintage 1993 computer.
posted by mmoncur at 2:20 PM on November 16, 2005

Steve, I need a few more details. if you contact me offline I can give you a few pointers. Email listed in my profile.
posted by Sagres at 10:06 PM on November 16, 2005

Yup, just get started. List down your services, and get the word out. Sales & marketing is the very basis that keeps businesses alive.
posted by arrowhead at 12:55 AM on November 17, 2005

If you go into business, make sure you know who your competitors are, both direct and indirect.

Do you know about Network Magic (they also have a competitor whose name I can't think of). Network Magic is basically network management software for small networks aimed at people who just want things to work. I've heard good things about it, but only 3rd hand.

Network magic could be an indirect competitor, but it could also be a tool that you can use to keep your costs down.

A thought on promoting your business. You'll probably get your best promotion via word of mouth from satisfied customers, but to get those satisfied customers in the first place, you might try and get word of mouth among technies in the area who would love to be able to say "talk to this guy" when a friend or family member says "I've got this problem with my new laptop, whenever I move the mouse, it..."

Once you do start making the appropriate formal arrangements for your business, you'll probably want to skip the DBA and look at something that limits your legal liability.
posted by Good Brain at 9:09 AM on November 17, 2005

1) Set prices for basic services (i.e. initial computer set up, virus removal, spam protection) and come up with a hourly rate (maybe $35/hr, minumum 2 hours)

2) Get a web and your own email address (this is now less than the cost of lunch)

3) Get business cards printed ($20 for a 1000 at some print shops)

4) Tell everyone you know about your business and give them a card. Don't be shy about asking for referrals. Put your cards where people can see them like public bulletin boards. Call your local chamber of commerece and a get a list of small businesses that you could contact.

5) Profit
posted by marc1919 at 6:06 AM on November 19, 2005

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