Can someone in his mid-twenties with no managerial experience, no bachelors degree, and very little start-up money start his own successful one-man business in the competitive field of computer consulting? Well, if you were to ask Eric Hamm that question, he’d not only answer with an up-beat and positive YES, but he’d tell you how he’s been doing it successfully for 5 years now…and all this before his 30th birthday!
For the first ever interview here on Y.F.N.C.G., I had the pleasure of having a conversation with self-made computer consultant Eric Hamm. Eric is not much older than me, running his own one-man computer business full time from home. He did not receive an education in computers and didn’t even work in the computer industry before taking the plunge into the consulting world. What he did posses, however, was a passion for helping people and a penchant for customer service that becomes apparent the moment you open a dialog with him.
I was first introduced to Eric by reading an excellent comment he left on one of the blogs I read regularly. I decided to send him an email after reading on his website that he is making a living doing the very thing that I am seeking to do. I was pleasantly surprised to receive an extremely detailed and helpful reply. Impressed by Eric’s willingness to help, I decided to see if he wouldn’t mind going the extra mile by answering some questions that I thought would not only be entertaining to my readers, but VERY beneficial to me in my journey. Needless to say, he was happy to oblige. Please take a moment to read his biography and then read on to find out more about how Eric has regained his freedom by building a successful consulting business on a foundation of great customer care.
What was the biggest motivation for starting your own consulting business?
My biggest motivation was freedom. I’ve never liked working for someone else. They tell you what, how, and when you can do something. And even if you do something really well you’re not guaranteed any increase of income. In other words, there is often times no direct connection between performance and benefits. To me, this is crazy. But with your own business, the harder and smarter you work, the greater chance for better pay and more possibilities.
Did you have a focus to your initial business plan and how much of your current business was developed gradually through on-the-job experience?
I didn’t have much of a business plan to begin with. I just figured the more people I told about my services the better. It’s really not that complicated when you are just a ‘one man show’. You just find the best ways of getting the word out and people will call. The great thing about the computer service business is that there’s never a shortage of people who need help. And I’m talking about people who ‘desperately’ need help. Nothing has really changed over time, as far as a business plan goes. Like I said, a one mane IT service is quite simple as far as businesses are concerned.
What were the biggest obstacles you faced in getting your consulting business off the ground?
The biggest obstacles were:
1: Making the transition from a J-O-B to my own business. There was a chunk of time where I just didn’t make enough to pay the bills on my business income alone. I had some financial assistance from my parents at first.
2: Getting used to working with all kinds of people. It’s not easy, if you’re not used to it, working with all sorts of personalities, income brackets, computer needs, etc… It can be a roller coaster ride. But over time you get used to it and just go with the flow.
In the biography section of your website, you say that when you first began your business, “It was a little rocky at first”. Can you go into more detail about what troubles you faced?
Well, I just mentioned the struggle to get used to all the different types of people, so that was one of the ‘rocky’ aspects. The other one was realizing how much I didn’t know about computers. When you work on a wide range of issues from a wide range of computers and people you often times run into baffling situations. It’s not until you do this for a little while before you feel like you can tackle most anything. But at first you may often feel like a real rookie.
What is the strangest or most humorous experience you’ve had while working on other’s computers?
I think it’s just the crazy questions I get. People have asked why there wasn’t any smoke when they burned a CD. Stuff like that. I am sure there has been the occasional crazy situation but nothing sticks out at this moment.
Do you have any advice to give those who are looking to start their own computer repair business?
I would tell them two things:
1-Really take care of your clients. Going the extra mile makes all the difference. It can seem hard to get new clients but it is even harder to keep them if you don’t take care of them.
2-Be patient. It takes time to get a large enough client base to have the kind of consistency that you’ll want. But over time this will happen and you’ll be glad you stuck with it.
Great advice from someone who has found success through hard work and customer focus. Not only is Eric a successful and smart business owner, but he is also growing quite an impressive presence online with a productivity blog called “Motivate Thyself” and a website to help new bloggers at Up-and-Coming-Blogger. So drop by those websites and drop Eric a line, I’m sure he’ll be happy to hear from you!
In the future I hope to conduct more interviews like this, with people who have found success in the areas that I’m interested in. Hopefully, using the wisdom of others who have walked the road I’m traveling now, I’ll be able to make smarter decisions and be better prepared to face the challenges ahead.
Eric Hamm’s websites:
The Computer Consultant