In July, I published an article called Top 5 Reasons Why I’m Starting A Computer Support Business. Being the kind of person that likes to see things from all angles, I decided to take the opposite view and look at some reasons why starting a computer business may not be such a good idea for me. This exercise was difficult, since obviously I DO want to start a business, but I feel it’s good to weigh the pros and cons of any major decision in life. Starting a business is not going to be all roses and cupcakes, so this list may be a good slap in the face to anyone, including me, who thinks they’ll be able to breeze through a life as a computer consultant. Here’s my list of the top 5 reasons why I probably shouldn’t start a computer business:
The Competition is Fierce
Of all the businesses one could start, computer repair is one of the simplest. Also, according to a report by the US Census Bureau, in 2003, 69 million people had computers in their household. I’m sure that number has skyrocketed since then. That means the demand for computer technicians is greater than ever before and it’s sure to rise. As a result, computer repair businesses are popping up like weeds all over the place. I picked up a recent copy of my local phone book to see what kind of computer repair businesses were out there. Just in my county alone, there are over 150 choices for computer repair! That means that when a person’s computer breaks and they want help, they have 150 choices other than me. 150 people who potentially have more experience, money, time, and skill than I do. There’s no denying that this is a hot industry and the supply might end up outweighing the demand.
It’s a Money Pit
Althought there is potential to make big bucks in computer consulting, that money usually comes from contracts with small businesses and corporations. It takes time to build a network of customers. At first I’m going to be putting more money into tools, marketing, and driving from customer to customer than I will get back from them, especially starting out with residential clients. It’s a tightrope walk balancing income and spending and repeat customers are never a sure thing.
Free Time Gone
I like spending time chilling with friends, catching the latest flick at the theatre, snowboarding, running, and playing music. By choosing to start a computer consulting business, I will surely loose alot of the precious free time I have taken for granted by working a 9-5 job. Not only will it take time to plan, grow, and advertise my business, but I’ll also be driving from place to place to service computers. At first, I’m going to want to service any customer that will hire me, no matter how far apart they live, so alot of my initial time will be spent on the road. Factor in time to keep up to date on the latest technology and free time is going to turn out to be a mythical beast that I only catch a glimps of around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Skills Need To Be Constantly Updated
Technology is the most dynamic industry in the world, and things change on a daily basis. What was once the best anti-virus program yesterday may be obsolete tomorrow. I’ve got to make sure I keep up with the latest trends and technologies to make sure I’m not blind-sided by something new when I show up to someone’s house. Not to mention, if I want to score the big contracts, I’ll need to keep my industry standard certificaitons up-to-date, like CompTIA A+ or MCSE, which take time and money to study for and pass.
As if all that isn’t enough to worry about, the one primary, solitary, most important thing I’ll always need to keep in mind is making my customers happy…customers that will yell at me, blame me for breaking things that I didn’t touch, and refuse to pay me. I’ll need to perform service with a smile every time, be a great communicator, and (hopefully) fix problems quickly. I’ll also need to spend time trying to keep customers by sending out newsletters and repeat customer coupons. It will be a while before I’ll have the luxury of picking and choosing my customers, so until then, I’ll have to make due with whoever wants to hire me, no matter how poorly they may treat me.
As you can see, the list makes my prospects very daunting. It’s going to be hard work and VERY challenging to start and run a successful computer consulting business. But, with time, research, drive, passion, and continued support from all of you, I’m confident I’ll be able to face and conquer the things in this list.
What other reasons can you think of?
“If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith.” – Albert Einstein