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Needs for starting a small business

Last response: in Systems
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October 21, 2010 10:50:05 AM

I've been contemplating looking into starting a local small business dealing with designing and creating custom computers(pretty much what we do here)

I have run into some theoretical obstacles:

I obviously need more than just my hobby as experience and require substantial training and certification. What type of certification would I need?

I would not only build the computers but would need to facilitate labor/warranty for X amount of time after purchase. That requires training/certification for OS as well as a basic understanding of simple electrical engineering principles.

Or conversely keep a substantial stock of all parts and just act as a hub for RMA turn around and provide quick replacement parts for the customer while I deal with the manufacturers warranty through my own stock.

I don't believe I have a customer base. Here's the way I see the Prebuilt computer market:

Cookie-cutter office/home PC: Dell, HP, Compaq etc make these types of computers. Low budget, low power, low-usage demand by the end-user. The type of computer your dad/grandpa/schools use. This would not be my competition, because I would use quality components that would place me in a higher price bracket, and the uninformed couldn't distinguish between the quality of components.

Custom Gaming/Enthusiast/Overall Custom: iBuypower,CyberpowerPC etc. These are made for more advance users that have a basic grasp of need vs. specification. This would be my target customer base, but once again I run into a dilemma. Usually users that want a high end computer, but lack the ability or confidence to build one shop at these sites. The computers I would build would be made from high end components and once again would be a higher cost.

My target customer: Would be someone knowledgeable enough to recognize high quality components. The problem is, generally if someone is knowledgeable enough to identify quality components, they are perfectly capable of ordering and assembling the components themselves.

So in essence, I lack a customer base to build computers for.

Obviously this is only in a brainstorming phase, but this hobby is something I genuinely enjoy doing. I've been in the military nearly 13 years, and as my retirement get's closer and closer, I have to contemplate my next job afterwards. The military provides tuition assistance as well as up to 4,500 towards a technical certification(1 time) so I believe now is the time to look at what type of education I need as a foundation for a business venture.

Pending what's talked about here, my next step is to talk to local independent computer stores and ask them about their experience with customers, supply/demand.

Any advice, insight or general information from this community would be appreciated as I kind of piece this together in my head.
October 21, 2010 11:34:57 AM

It is getting harder and harder to make money out of putting computers together for all the reasons you listed above but also because the PC is so much more reliable and powerful. If you want more than a hobby then you may well have to expand your ambitions well beyond your current proposal.
October 21, 2010 11:42:46 AM

From my internet search of Phoenix computer companies, which is a sizeable sample considering the population, I found most of them are selling some pretty crappy computers.

Pentium 4s, Athlon 64 x 2s etc.

From what I can tell, there isn't a local company that provides any high end PCs.

I understand that to diversify in computers into troubleshooting, networking/network security, software and general IT work will provide a broader foundation for a potential client base.

As of now, from word of mouth at work and through friends, I get alot of business just fixing sluggish computers and doing high end builds. As of yet, I haven't charged anything for the services because I am trying to build a reputation.

Maybe this is what I will be relegated to for now, and just build my experience.

Thanks for your input Wamphryi :) 
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October 21, 2010 12:07:00 PM

Making money officially from selling rigs is not easy, in fact, people with small capital are more often object of failing.
It is better to be done if you have already some other stuff as your main income source and then make pc selling as your secondary income.
What I have done so far is just selling rigs, building pc network, repairing pcs,etc. only on friends and relative circle.
I got several order from outside the circle but not much.
I had also the idea of opeing a store or something similar, but too many people have done that and they are all already too powerfull to compete.

Well...you got your point there also about charging money from people close to you...I tought of what you are thinking about building reputation...but in the end...I always end up charging the service for low prices compared to other stores or companies.

People near you only want good rigs or systems and yet cheaper than the normal prices...that is your only chance of making money and your only chance against other more powerful vendors.

Well..business is starting to get better as I start to get orders also from small businesses like internet cafes rookies, etc. but I don't even have any hope of making this kind of business as my main income source.

At least I am having fun with this business.
October 21, 2010 12:15:55 PM

I think the lack of high end gaming PC manufacturers in the local areas reinforces what I have already realized. Quality High-End PCs don't have a consumer base because the experienced user can simply build their own.

Also I wouldn't know where to start to find wholesale hardware.
October 21, 2010 12:17:40 PM

Also it seems that wholesale isn't optimum for what I intend to do. In order to buy wholesale you have to buy in bulk, and if I lack the demand to move the merchandise the inventory would rot, and quickly become outdated.

Prices drop on components so quickly that if I didn't move inventory in say 1-3 months, I would take a loss on a per-component basis just to stay competitive with newegg
October 21, 2010 12:20:17 PM

Regardless of what form this hobby/business takes, anyone have any advice on certifications, education or training?
October 21, 2010 9:54:40 PM

Any other opinions?
October 21, 2010 10:24:25 PM

I sent you a personal message on here regarding this, you might want to check it out.
!