Saturday, March 29, 2014
Make sure to check out our new home over on the Small Business Computer Consulting Blog.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Many IT consultants miss important concepts about being successful in their industry and end up struggling to make ends meet and get clients. Why? They fail to create an organized business plan based on planned growth.
So, what does it take to understand how to start an IT business that will be successful far into the future? The following 6 success factors can help put you on the right road.
1. Understand Your Business Model and Target Audience. You can’t be all things to all people. But you can be all things to SOME people. As a new IT consultant catering to small businesses, you won’t have the advertising budget to market to everyone … or the staff to provide services to everyone. Find a specialty group and focus your marketing efforts on these people. Figure out which services you will and won’t provide and which type of small business clients will be the best fit for these services.
2. Be Proactive about Finding the Best Clients, Staff and Partners. Whether you are looking for prospects, customers, staff, contractors or partners as you learn how to start an IT business, you need to be working on the process regularly. If you procrastinate, you risk taking on nightmare clients, having unreliable employees or just making bad decisions in haste. The time to make important decisions is when you are NOT in crisis mode. Be on the lookout for people that can help you grow your business.
3. Quality Trumps Quantity. Your goal is not to get the biggest customer list. 50 great customers is better than 100 bad ones. When one-person IT companies learn how to start an IT business and do it right, they can actually make very healthy livings with just 5 or even 6 steady clients that need service at least a few times a month. Focus on getting profitable and stable customers on your client list. And don't be afraid to fire your money-losing, time-draining customers.
4. Teach Your Clients How to Treat You. If you set rock-bottom rates, waste huge blocks of unpaid time, tolerate verbal abuse from your customers and clients, accept late payments and let your clients cherry-pick you rather than committing to ongoing service contracts, you are teaching your clients not to respect you and your time. Set policies in stone from the start of your business and stick to them, and you’ll be on your way to understanding how to start an IT business on the right foot.
5. Prepare and Plan for Future Success. A full-blown business plan is ideal from Day 1; but if you need some time to develop it at first, a weekly business development “to-do” list will help you get started. Include three columns, aside from the name of the task itself: (a) how much time you will spend; (b) how much money you will spend; (c) your start and end dates for tasks. Make sure you fill out this form regularly so you know how you are spending your time and how much money is coming in and going out of your business. Analyzing the results will help you understand how to make your business more profitable.
6. Remember that Time is Money. If you want to understand how to start an IT business successfully, treat your time as your inventory . You wouldn’t give your inventory away in any other business that was selling products, so why would you give your inventory away when it is time? Know where every 15 minutes of your time is going every week and put it into three categories: (a) billable to a client; (b) management/administration; (c) sales/marketing. If you can’t put all of your time into one of these three categories, you need to reevaluate.
In this article, we introduced 6 secrets to success for you to think about as you learn how to start an IT business. Learn more about how to start an IT business and get great, steady, high-paying clients now at the attached link.
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Sunday, March 15, 2009
Because if you think your PC repair service can survive by catering to one-shot-deal customers, home users, and residential customers, you are to put it mildly... delusional.
Many entrepreneurs in the technology field feel lost as they are trying to start a PC repair service business, particularly when they work with small businesses and are running a one-or-two person operation. If this describes you, you know you will have to wear many different “hats” at the beginning, playing the role of bookkeeper, accountant, marketing coordinator, salesperson and of course computer repair person doing all the work in the field.
To help you start your PC repair service efficiently, consider the following 6 critical business-building ideas.
1. Understand Your Business Model and Target Audience. Remember that it’s not practical to be all things to all people. But, you can absolutely be all things to some people. As a small business PC repair service owner, you will not have the advertising budget to market to everyone. So instead, find a very targeted audience and focus your efforts there. And be sure to figure out which services you will and won’t provide.
2. Find the Right People with Proactive Techniques. Whether you are looking for prospects, customers, staff, contractors, or partners, you need to spend time on marketing weekly. Procrastinating will only lead to nightmare clients, unreliable employees, and hastily-made bad decisions. The time to make important decisions is when you are not operating in crisis mode and likely to make mistakes. Be on the lookout for people that will help you get where you want to be.
3. Remember Quality, Not Quantity. Your goal as a PC repair service is not to have the biggest customer list. If you have 50 great customers, you are in better shape than someone with 100 bad customers. Many technology professionals make very healthy livings with as few as five or six steady clients. Aim to have only the most profitable and stable customers on your list. And don't be afraid to get rid of money-losing, time-draining customers.
4. Teach Customers How to Treat You. If you decide to charge rock-bottom rates, waste big blocks of time, tolerate verbal abuse from customers, accept incomplete payments, and continue to service customers that are habitual late-payers, you are teaching customers not to respect you. Set policies in stone from the beginning and stick to them to be a happy business owner.
5. Plan for Your Future Success. A full-blown business plan is what you ultimately need. But in the beginning as you are deciding how to create this, at least work on a weekly business development to-do list. Create a document with the task in one column and three more columns for each task: how much time you will spend; how much money you will spend; your start and end dates for the task. Be religious about filling out this document to track where you are spending your time, and how much money is coming in and going out. Analyzing this regularly will help your business be more profitable and help you create a more formal business plan structure.
6. Know Time is Money. When it comes to your PC repair service, your time is your inventory. If you owned a store that sold products, would you give inventory away? Of course not! Because your time is like your inventory when it comes to your repair business, you can’t afford to give time away either. You need to know where every ¼ hour block is going each and every week. Your time should fit into one of three categories: (a) billable to a client; (b) management/administration; and (c) sales/marketing. If any of your time can’t be put into these three categories, re-evaluate how you are spending it.
In this article we discussed 6 critical points for starting a PC repair service the right way. Learn more about how you can attract great, steady, high-paying PC repair service clients now at the attached link.
Copyright (C),PCRepairServiceTips.com, All Rights Reserved
Sunday, January 11, 2009
At the very least, you need to build your IT business around more than just one-shot deals. This means you need to clearly define your IT support contract package, so it delivers tremendous value and includes all of your sophisticated business solutions.
Consider the following three ways to differentiate between a prepaid time block and an IT support contract, so you can build better relationships with clients and a stronger, healthier, long-term business.
- A Prepaid Time Block is Very Different from an IT Support Contract. An IT support contract is specific about the types of proactive, on-going work you will do for your clients: for example on-going maintenance, emergency support, long-term planning, and upgrades. A prepaid time block is just time spent with your firm with no real on-going relationship once the time purchased runs out. For example, let's say that your normal hourly rate is $100 per hour. In return for prepaying 20 hours of time, you may offer a $10 per hour discount (effectively $90 per hour). But what happens when those 20 hours are used up? Once that happens, your client has effectively downgraded back to being an inactive customer... about the exact opposite of what you'd want to happen. A prepaid time block is not a long-term agreement, because there is no real long-term relationship or contract once the hours are used up.
- An IT Support Contract is an Agreement In Writing. When you create an air-tight IT support contract agreement, you promise your clients among other things a single point of contact, proper software licensing, and confidentiality that protects both you and the clients you serve. All of these factors will be included in a long-term agreement. In return for clients committing to a year’s worth of services, they get loads of benefits and discounts. As part of your account management plans, be sure to set up a renewal notice, to be sent out before the end of the year, that continues to sell the ongoing benefits of the program. With an IT support contract, you get the promise of cash flow on an ongoing, monthly basis for at least a year. You also get recurring revenue that will help build your IT business and give you more definite, long-term revenue, as compared to a more limiting dead-end transaction from a prepaid time block.
- Provide Valuable Service with Your IT Support Contract. Make sure you are always proactive with your IT support contract relationships. Stay in touch on a regular basis to make sure you are taking care of ongoing security and data protection, and continuing to solve clients' business problems. Make sure backup systems are running well and that you are documenting the small things happening within your clients’ offices. This way, you'll be prepared to provide the premium levels of service that your clients expect. An IT support contract works so well because it cannot ever be confused with a one-shot deal or a short-term project. Moreover, it represents a true agreement between you and your clients, and sets the stage for long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Choosing the right name for your company can be challenging and must be well thought out before you open for business. There are many factors to consider as you are thinking through computer business names. To target the best, steady high-paying clients, your marketing materials and branding must communicate exactly what you do to solve small business technology problems.
Use the following 4 tips to decide on an appropriate computer business name that showcases your unique value proposition and target client base.
- Think About Your Specialty and Niche Market. Do you have a specialty? Perhaps you are an expert at accounting or medical software. If so, you can use this specialized knowledge to your advantage when building your company's identity. Also think about how your specialty relates to any niche market. Your proficiency with accounting software or experience working with accountants in a previous job might lead to you marketing yourself as an expert in that particular industry. If you choose a specialty and niche, make sure your name reflects this to attract the clients that will most benefit from your services. For example, you can add the term “accounting solutions” or a similar phrase to your computer business name.
- Consider Your Location. Often your location can be a real benefit to prospects, customers and clients. When you are geographically close to your small business clients, they know they can count on you for important benefits such as faster response time, service guarantees, and a more competitive rate structure. As you are thinking through computer business names, seriously consider adding location to better communicate your identity and the strength of your services. This also helps to pre-qualify your potential clients. As an example, computer business names such as “[Your City or Your Region] Technology Solutions” will let your prospects know more about you and who you serve than simply “Technology Solutions.”
- Keep Your Computer Business Name Short and Descriptive. When you are thinking about names, remember to make your company name short and descriptive. To get maximum impact with marketing materials and make yourself memorable to prospects, you should choose a name that can be easily made into a domain name for your Web site and become part of your e-mail address. That way when prospects are trying to get in touch they only have one thing to remember.
- Make Sure Your Computer Business Name is Unique... At Least Locally! In most cases, a simple fictitious name search for similarly- or identically-named business entities or DBA's in your city, county, or state/province is adequate. However to truly cover all bases, or if you have national (or even global) aspirations, consult with a qualified legal expert on trademarks and servicemarks. This will usually be an intellectual property attorney or solicitor.
In this article we talked about 4 critical tips that can help you think through different computer business names. Learn more about how you can get great, steady, high-paying clients and find the best computer business names now at http://www.greatcomputerbusinessnames.com/
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Thursday, November 27, 2008
Are you looking to start a consulting business? Do you wonder if you will be expected to know everything that could possibly go wrong with your clients’ problems and potential problems?
The fact is, you don’t need to know absolutely everything in order to start a consulting business. And the notion that you would even be able to know everything when it comes to technology is very unrealistic. The following 3 pieces of advice can help you learn which skills and what type of knowledge you need to have to start a consulting business the right way.
- Understand the Balance Between Technical Skills and People Skills. In order to successfully start a consulting business, you need to be really well organized, friendly and someone that enjoys helping other people. Focus on being resourceful and not just a technical genius. When you try too hard to be a technical genius as you build your client base, you can hold yourself back. Computer consulting is about communicating with people and building real relationships. If you have strong technical skills but still need some help working a room, you can get better at socializing, networking, and schmoozing with practice.
- Find Out If You Have the Right Skills. How do you know if you have the right technical skills and business skills to start a consulting business? First of all, don’t let lack of certifications hold you back. Advanced technical certifications are not important to the average non-technical small business owner or manager. You can do very well without ever selling to companies with an IT director. Focus on your ability to build strong relationships and solve real business problems with sophisticated IT solutions. You will do just fine without racking up a lot of certifications that will probably be overkill when it comes to working with most small businesses.
- Remember that Small Business Owners Want Total Business Solutions and Complete Accountability. Typical small business owners and managers are not looking for just credentials or technical skills. They are buying you and your business expertise. They are buying your comprehensive business solutions and the security of engaging with a consulting business that knows how to work with other companies like theirs.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
As a computer consultant, technology assessments are an important part of your sales cycle. These assessments help gauge your new customers' needs, so you can develop comprehensive solutions and strengthen future client relationships.
- Physical Security. Make sure the right physical controls are in place to secure all servers, networking and telecommunications equipment to prevent unauthorized access.
- Logical Security. Ensure that appropriate software security controls are in place so you can prevent viruses and unauthorized data access.
- Logistical and Environmental Controls. All technology assets have to be housed in facilities that offer the right environmental conditions – temperature and dust regulation, furniture, racks and physical equipment organization.
- Configuration Management. Ensure systems are installed and configured according to established requirements and standards.
- Systems Administration Procedures. Security systems and administrative procedures need to be well-defined and assigned to specific staff members.
- Hardware Inventory Management. You need to make sure all hardware is properly inventoried and that the warranty and maintenance records are diligently updated and tracked.
- Software Licensing. Make sure all software usage complies with licensing agreements and that these records are well-maintained.
- Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Procedures. Data backups must be made and tested on a regular basis so that important information can be recovered in case of systems failure, data loss or any other disaster.
- Documentation. You must make sure that systems, procedures and policies are well-documented and regularly updated. Also, make sure that your clients maintain systems reports, error logs, help desk records, and other related problem logs.
- Performance and Capacity Planning. All systems must perform according to required levels. Think about uptime, system availability, bandwidth, data storage and archiving older data files.
- Change Management. You need to be sure that all major changes are documented, tested and verified before they are implemented.
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