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Thread: Starting your Own Consulting Firm

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2004

    Starting your Own Consulting Firm

    Starting Your Own Computer Consulting Firm

    I have noticed that a few people on AO are interested in starting their own consulting firms so that they can be their own boss and make some cash on the side. Well I am here to say that YOU CAN DO IT! It may not always be easy, and you may need to make sacrifices along the way but such is the price one pays to do something they love.

    Where I am from:

    Let me first let you know where I am coming from so that you do not think I am just wasting your time. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and I am currently running both my own company and working as a regular network administrator position at a large company and I am very happy with my current position.

    My Story:

    My great-grandfather, grandfather and father all have been their own bosses. Sure they worked in the same industry all their lives but eventually they all started their own businesses. It was nothing special when my older brother opened his own web-design company. I saw and heard about all these people starting their own companies being their own bosses and I wanted to be one. My first adventure into owning my own business started with lawn-cutting and trimming services. That business lasted a summer and then I decided that it didnít pay enough.

    After working a few other jobs as a ďpeonĒ I decided that I would build my own business. Well I got sucked into the computer scene and was using so much time staring at a screen that I totally forgot about my dream of being an entrepreneur. I soon landed a job working as a website designer for a rather large corporation. I moved up the ranks from the web designer to senior technical advisor for this corp. Well in my current position I was given a nice deal were I could make my own schedule. I started thinking about being my own boss again. I quickly put this thought out of my mind because I liked my job and didnít want to get worn down.

    One day my brother (now working sales at a large semi-conductor manufacturer and a owner and operator of a few workout gyms) called and asked me if I could help them (the company he worked for). His companyís network had gone down and even though I felt very capable to fix this I did not want to mix business with family and I decided that I wouldnít go help him but I would help him and direct the job to someone else that I trusted. So I quickly called a buddy of mine and sent him over. He quickly solved the problem got a nice check a satisfaction job well-done.

    It was at this point that I decided I would once again try to start my own business, however this time I would be starting a computer consulting firm. I knew that it would be tough and that I would have to give up personal time and I knew that some relationships would suffer but I also knew it would be worth it. I took a few simple steps in starting my own business was soon able to start making some money.

    What steps did I take:

    1. First I bought some Avery Printable Business Cards and created my own graphic and contact information and printed a large amount of them.

    a. I had a direct phone so that I knew I could answer it and that I would be able to make sure it was handled with professionalism (care).
    b. I had an E-mail address that I checked regularly
    c. I also put a physical address it makes people feel comfortable knowing where you live (even if it is P.O. Box it will still satisfy people).

    2. I then started by getting my name out there as someone who works on computers. I started striking up conversation with people at book stores, coffee places, church and anywhere else I could.

    3. I always carried my business cards (the ones I created in step one) so that when I met someone (or a pretty lady) I appeared professional (people judge you by their first impression of you).

    4. I would also dress nice and neat when I knew I was going to try to make some contacts. * I also dress nicely whenever I go to a jobsite for the first time just to make sure that I do not appear as a young punk like some of my clients would consider me if they saw me regularly.

    5. Make sure you have a system of how you will bill your customers. Set up rules that you will follow on how much you charge. When you expect payment and how you expect to receive it. *You must follow your own rules the reason why most small companies fail is laziness and lack of discipline.

    a. Opening a checking account is helpful and shows professionalism
    b. Donít let a quick buck blind you, make sure you research what the going rate is and be competitive. (Just because people canít figure out their network doesnít mean they canít google) If you cheat a customer you lost that customer and all his contacts.

    6. Then my business started to grow when I was getting referrals by word of mouth. It was at this point that I was able to start scheduling people around my current schedule so that I could accomplish all that needed to be done.

    7. You must check your local laws on small-business and fill out the appropriate paper work. * You can wait for this step make sure that you will definitely be starting a business before filing all the paperwork.

    This is what worked for me and I thought it would be helpful for a lot of people here so I decided to write this up as a quick tutorial. If you would like to add something please let me know.

    Following this will not guarantee success, however it will definitely help you on your way to success.

    - MilitantEidolon
    Yeah thats right........I said It!

    Ultimately everyone will have their own opinion--this is mine.

  2. #2
    So just a few simple questions:

    What were your first jobs for clients like? Did it start off pretty simple?
    How long did it take the venture to actually become profitable?
    How satisfied are you with it now? Are you able to happily live off the income from this alone now?

    Excellent tut! Somebody needed to write this!

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    What were your first jobs for clients like?
    Well, actually I still have kept most of my clients since I first started. However my first job was setting up a simple network for a small company. The network only included 10 computers all running a database and a network drive. Nothing else. It wasn't hooked up to the internet or anything it was very simple and a nice buck.

    A few other of my first jobs, a 6 page website, maintenance on existing networks, and one of my favorites is taking an overview of the company decided the best software packages.

    Did it start off pretty simple?
    Yes, and no! I am sure you know that sometimes problems that come up that you are not expecting. However, if you are prepared to deal with few errors or problems you will be fine. One good thing to do before going to a job is compiling a disk or disks with you administrator tools on it i.e. ethereal, nmap and so on. With this you will be ready for a curveball.

    How long did it take the venture to actually become profitable?
    Well surprisingly it was right away. The only thing I spent money on was for business cards and a new briefcase. However, I made more money of my first job that it covered both those things. So in my case I was instantly. You must be careful to make sure that you do spend money to make money (in the beginning). After you become established and you wish to buy a new computer or new software go for it but becareful on investing in something to soon.

    How satisfied are you with it now?
    I love it, I make my own hours I can work later in the day or earlier in the morning (for the most part). The only downside is when something goes wrong with a client even if I didn't have anything to do with it they will call me complaining.

    Are you able to happily live off the income from this alone now?
    Well, lets see. Hmm...I would say yes if you really try. I do not push hard to find many jobs. I know that if I needed to make enough money to live alone I would be able to, but as for right now there is no need for me to push. However, I believe that a person could truly live on their own if you work hard at it.

    I hope this answered some of your questions. If you have anything else please do not hesitate to ask.

    - MilitantEidolon
    Yeah thats right........I said It!

    Ultimately everyone will have their own opinion--this is mine.

  4. #4
    Time to bring this topic back to life...I have some questions.

    What typically do you guys charge for each of the following:

    (1) Diagnostic
    (2) Clean system of viruses and malware
    (4) New OS installation
    (5) OS reinstallation/repair
    (6) System upgrade (parts provided)

    And how does the following affect your pricing:

    (1) Go to their location to work or pick up machine
    (2) Take their machine with you to your home/lab

    Do you charge labor hours alternatively/additionally? If so, how and how much/hour?

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