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Small job building computers advice

Last response: in Systems
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July 15, 2012 1:39:03 PM

Hi there :) 

I'm 15 years old and have recently got into building computers around a year or two ago and absolutely love it, finding myself reading a lot on computers in my spare time. I have currently built 2 computers, and will be building another in September, but have also carried out various smaller tasks on a number of computers (GPUs, HDDs etc), I'm only telling you this so you know my capabilities.

I live near to a company/large office block that small business owners can rent office units for their businesses, many of which are occupied (there are at least 30 units of different sizes).

There is a demand for computers/servers for new and existing businesses that rent out these units and I was thinking about potentially providing a service to those who require computers and servers being built for them, and possibly provide IT support. There are already 2 units who I provide IT service for, software and hardware based and I have contacts within the building itself. I would obviously charge for the services, as I have done in the past, but would like to make it official to the other units that I am able to provide a computer building service for a price and hopefully make a bit of money and call it a job if you like.

My question to you would be,
Are there any things I should consider before I do this?
What should I do in order to prevent myself from being caught out and prevent any loop holes?
What sort of prices should I charge that people would be willing to pay?
Any other things you think I should consider and any other additional advice would be greatly appreciated

Thanks :) 

SublimeOrange
a b B Homebuilt system
July 15, 2012 2:29:40 PM

Use search or google.
July 15, 2012 3:53:32 PM

Being 15 is not going to make this easy. I have people of your age come in for jobs all the time and I turn them down due to lack of experience. Without any certifications/degrees it's hard to know if you actually know what you are doing/talking about. Sure you could build a computer/replace a video card but do you actually know what you are doing, that is a question that clients may ask, especially of someone who doesn't yet have a drivers license.

Unless you are home schooled or could be available between normal business hours, I would not have you in an IT support staff, not trying to get you down, I'm just being realistic.

Invest in certifications first. Comptia A+ and Comptia Network+ are a good start to any career in IT. I will not hire someone without at least having one of these. You also do not need to go to college to get these and these will usually allow you to skip a few semesters ahead if you already have these certifications. I was able to skip these two classes and the MCSE 70-290 and 70-270 classes as I already had these certifications. This was back in 2004 btw so things like college might have changed.

First thing, if you are wanting to do this as a "job" get a tax id. Make it a real business. Have business cards that list your education/certification background. Mine has my name, business number and my college degrees and computer certifications. The degrees and certifications really catch the clients eyes. My business has jumped about 30% since I added these to my business cards.

Things to consider, get a lawyer to write up some contracts that if anything happens (data loss, downtime, etc,) that you are not responsible. Also, in IT they expect you to be available at all times, so be prepared. Have access to an account/credit card with at least $5,000 so you can purchase parts without needing an upfront payment from your client. Define what your limits are. Do you work on printers/copiers (personally, I DESPISE printers but will do basic work on them, replacing rollers, setting them up, clearing out jams occasionally, changing the toner, etc). This should keep you out of any loopholes and/or being caught out.

Pricing, that depends on your location. I charge $55/hour for basic computer work and setting up small office/home routers and $75 for real networking (domain/active directory, setting up firewalls and switches etc). Non-profits and churches I usually charge $35/hour. Also, I charge in 15 minute increments with a half hour minimum. So, I know I will at least make $27.50 and they typically won't call me for piddly things.

Charge each company the same also, that last thing you want is for someone in company A to speak to someone in company B and they both have you as their IT guy but you charge company B $15 more an hour. Keep it simple, keep it fair.

As far as billing, that depends on the client. I have some that pay once a month for the entire month and I have some that pay when I am finished. This should be part of the contract you have with these businesses. They all want to do things differently.

Other things to consider, have contacts. They have saved me several times. I consider myself fairly well rounded when it comes to computers but having someone you can contact that is a specialist in a given area is truly the best kind of backup support to have. As I mentioned the printers earlier, I have a friend who only works on printers. If I have an issue with one or an error code I can't find by searching, I call/text him and have an answer typically within a few minutes or I will pass the work on to him. Remember, contacts like this are a 2 way street recommend them and they will recommend you. Another thing to consider, is your contact information. I have some places that I only give my business number to, while others have my personal cell number if an emergency pops up.

The most important thing, is to keep at it. As with most everything, if you want to be successful you have to stick to it. It won't be easy.

Best of luck.
!