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Starting a side job computer business, need help!

post #1 of 91
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I'm having a very hard time even finding a part-time job anywhere, and need cash, so I am going to utilize my computer skills to help others by repairing, building new rigs for people and whatever else they need done.

I mainly need help with 3 things:

1. How do I avoid any legal trouble? Either from angry customers (I fixed it before so I must have something to do with the new problem!, it asploded!, etc)
Also about this part, I want to know what needs to be done in terms of business legalese... I live in Florida (USA) if that information is helpful. (I'm not very smart legally as you can likely tell... If you know anything please post and I'm sure I will find it very helpful.)

2. What type of diagnostic, updates, etc software should I stick on a flash drive for easy access? I was thinking of course HijackThis, some accurate free virus removal software, Flash updates, etc... Now of course my list is very short and I know I'm missing things that would be necessary for this line of work, so please give me more suggestions as to what I should use, especially if you work on computers for a living/on the side.

3. How should I advertise my services? I was thinking those car magnet signs, maybe an ad in the newspaper, but to be honest I don't have much money to spend. Any effective free methods? I of course do intend on asking family/friends to tell people about me should a broken computer come up in their conversation so no need to list that.

Any help I can get regarding starting a side job computer business would be immensely helpful! Please post.


PS: If this thread is successful we can turn it into a go-to guide on things you need to do in order to start a computer side job business. I'll be bookmarking it and updating the OP with whatever information you guys provide so others don't have to dig through the thread should they be asking the same questions as I am.
post #2 of 91
1. create a contract and get a business licence by looking it up on Florida's business site.

2. the more the better

3. start off on craigslist and answer ads and post on there


EDIT:
Better clients will come by word of mouth, remember that.
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post #3 of 91
youre going to be the next craigslist killer
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post #4 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by graphicsman View Post
1. create a contract and get a business licence by looking it up on Florida's business site.

2. the more the better

3. start off on craigslist and answer ads and post on there


EDIT:
Better clients will come by word of mouth, remember that.
i agree with this.
but i like the idea of car magnets.
post #5 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwiasian View Post
i agree with this.
but i like the idea of car magnets.
i do car magnets but honestly if you have NO clients it is a waste of money at the beginning. Get some decent business cards and make some flyers and go to colleges or post it on craigslist and look for people that need help
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post #6 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by gis View Post
youre going to be the next craigslist killer
I'll be honest you made me laugh and I lost my train of thought. I had something good to say too. I can't remember it.
post #7 of 91
I think your best bet is older people that aren't as tech savvy. That would be your best target. Remember to keep your prices reasonable too.
post #8 of 91
You don't have a Bestbuy close by? A good way to make side cash and a killer discount, which is something like cost + 5%. If not, good luck with being your own employer.
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post #9 of 91
1. You would cover your butt with a contract. I do this kind of work, yes some people will later reinfect themselves downloading music then complain I never fixed it, etc. Have them sign off on all work once it is done. You could check out http://www.legalzoom.com/ for help getting stuff written up. I haven't used them but hear lots of ads for it on the local legal talk radio shows.

2. I carry a 32GB drive with XP/Vista/7/Office 2003-2007 service packs. I also have tons of anti-virus and malware removal tools (combofix, malwarebytes, avg, avast, etc). I also try to keep the latest definitions on there for said apps + norton or anything else they would use. I also keep the lastest versions of flash and java since most people dont update them.

I also have a 64 cd binder with all versions of windows (retail and oem), memtest, acronis, hd diagnostics, etc.

The better prepared you are, the better you look. Plus it saves time downloading tools you may need etc.

3. Word of mouth will be your best way to get customers. Print up some business cards (they are cheap) and hand them out to family and friends and have them pass them out. Trust me, I get most of my business via word of mouth, including some small businesses. I like the idea graphicsman posted about answering some of the craigslist ads.

Also, if you are going to people's houses/businesses a "go bag" would be nice. I bought a small tool bag to hold all my tools (crimpers, wire cutters, scissors, jewelers screwdrivers), zip ties, and some spare cables (vga, dvi, hdmi, coax, ethernet, power). Then I have my laptop and my phone which I can tether to if I need to for whatever reason.
Edited by SniperXX - 1/10/11 at 8:44pm
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post #10 of 91
As far as flash drive stuff.

Anti-Virus stuff:
HiJackThis
Malwarebytes' Anti Malware
Microsoft Security Essentials (both 32-bit and 64-bit versions)

Disc/ISO stuff (you never know):
Daemon Tools
Any good free ISO burner

Data backup/recovery:
Acronis
WinDirStat (for analyzing the file system if someone wants you to clean out their computer)
CCleaner (also for helping in cleaning out)
I always keep a flash drive running Ubuntu on it in case someone somehow can't access their data, I can boot to the Ubuntu live environment and retrieve any data from the hard drive

Diagnostics:
MemTest 86+
Some kind of HD scan (although Ubuntu can scan the drive with a SMART test when in the live environment)

If you can afford it, various versions of windows ranging from XP SP3 32-bit to Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, along with Office keys. Alternatively, you could add OpenOffice to the list of executable on your flash drive, it can get you out of a bind.

As far as hardware, always keep krazy glue for when it budges and you want it to not budge, and a can of compressed air for when it doesn't budge and you want it to budge.
A USB wireless card and an ethernet cable, you never know.

I'll add on if I can think of anything else.
Edited by crazyap7 - 1/11/11 at 11:36am
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