Starting any small business can be a daunting task and starting a computer repair business can be particularly hard due to the fact that there is so much competition already out there.
One of the reasons that there is so much competition in the tech support and computer repair industry is because the barriers to entry are (or at least can be) very low.
In addition, the knowledge and skills required to start a computer repair business, whilst extremely broad in their spectrum, can be easily obtained on a low level.
Skills and qualifications required for tech support
There are many qualifications that you can obtain on your way to becoming a qualified computer repair engineer and they vary depending on what you are planning to specialise in. Some of the well known qualifications are:
- Diploma in ICT Professional Competence and other similar college level qualifications
- ECDL (European Computer Driving License)
- ITIL Qualifications
- MCSA (Microsoft)
- CCNA (Cisco)
Whilst that list is already impressive, there are loads more courses in various areas of IT support and computer repair. However, you don’t actually need any qualifications to operate in the computer repair niche. In fact its quite common practice for someone to learn to repair their own computer and then evolve into professional computer repair as their skills become adequate.
The reason that the tech support industry does not require its engineers to be officially qualified is due to the fact that it is an unregulated industry – there are no qualifications required or membership requirements or bodies that you must be registered with to operate as an IT support engineer.
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Some people would say that this is a bad thing and that it means there are cowboys operating in the computer repair industry. That may sometimes be the case, but the reality is that computer repair is fairly easy to learn at a basic level.
Some of the most common issues that domestic PC owners tend to face are:
- Viruses and Trojans
- Slow computer requiring a service
- Basic Internet and/or networking problems
- New PC setup
- Crashed PC with serious software issues
- hardware faults
- Data transfer between old and new PC
All of the above issues are reasonably easy to fix and there are only a few fundamental skill sets that are required to do so – being able to find and remove viruses (which can be done mostly with antivirus tools), being able to service a PC, being able to reload a PC and being able to replace basic hardware.
Of course the computer repair industry is vast and there are many more levels up the chain in terms of technical abilities and troubleshooting skills but to get in at that entry level is possible with only little training and experience.
Computer repair business ideas
So now that you have an idea of the skills and training required in starting a computer repair business, lets look at some of the ideas and particular areas of computer repair that are available.
Some of the common sub-niches for computer repair are:
- Domestic PC repairs – This can be done without any center of operations and would involve you, the engineer, visiting domestic homes and repairing basic computer issues – normally focused on a single computer with software or hardware problems. This area has very few barriers to entry as there are no rates or rent, no business premises required and very little kit needed to start up.
- PC repair Shop – Opening a PC repair shop is similar to the above in that you are likely to operate in the domestic repairs niche. However, with a shop you have a center of operations and also a means for advertising, branding and familiarity with your clientèle. With these additional benefits does also come a large cost base – rent, rates, utilities and so on as well as the responsibilities of running a public facing business. Opening a PC repair shop too early can sometimes be a mistake because you are left competing with lots of “call out” engineers who have much lower costs and can therefor undercut your prices massively.
- Small Business Support – Small businesses almost always have IT requirements so there is lots of scope for offering support to small businesses – This can range from a 2 person startup with a basic computer system, toa multi user company with a client/server based network. Whilst there is a lot of potential in this area of tech support, the skill set required is far greater than the above options as you will be supporting a much more diverse range of software and potential issues.
What does a start up computer repair business need?
There are a few key things that you do need when starting up a computer repair business and if you dont have them it will definitely cause you problems in the long term.
- Business Plan – You may think that a business plan is only needed if you want a loan from the bank. Whilst a business plan would come in handy in that situation, it is also an invaluable tool. A good business plan will keep you focused on your goals, the type of business you are trying to build and where you want the business to go. It will also give you some basis to track revenue and profit and to see if you are hitting the right targets at the right times during your business growth.
- Accounts – Accounts is something that you need to think about in some detail. Firstly, its a great idea to get an accountant on board from the beginning – at the planning stage. Seeing as there are so few start up costs involved in this industry, having an accountant is a financial burden well worth the cost. One of the main things you need to think about is what type of business you are going to set up – will it be a sole trader or a limited company for example. An accountant can advise you on these matters and getting these things in place to begin with is much much easier than trying to make changes further down the line.
- Tools and Assets – Whilst there are not many things that you need to start a computer repair business in 2015, there are some and having those tools and equipment to begin with will make life much easier and will allow you to provide a much more comprehensive service to your customers. Some of the tools you will need are external hard drive (for data backup), SATA drive caddy to attach and recover data from customer hard drives, Tool kit (mainly screw drivers) and some diagnostic and antivirus software – Malware bytes, Microscope and ccleaner. There are other tools as well such as data recovery tools and so on, but they can be purchased as required.
market a computer repair business
The next thing that you need to think about when starting a computer repair business in the UK is marketing. This is another thing you should really give great thought to before actually starting to trade. Word of mouth is a great way to market your business as other methods can be very expensive, but there are some areas you can investigate to begin with that will pay great benefit in the short term.
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- Computer repair website – It is crucial to get a website up and running straight away. If you are going into IT Support, setting up a website should be something you can manage at a relatively low cost. There are some free advertising strategies that go hand in hand with this and will show great benefit – such as creating a facebook page, Twitter page, Google plus page and also taking advantage of Google local listings.
- Business cards – Business cards are very important to have right from the start as they are a great way to advertise to customers, friends and also for leaving in shops and other low cost advertising locations. If you are on a budget, business cards can be purchased for only the cost of postage from companies like Vistaprint.
- Flyers – Another great form of advertising that is low cost would be flyer distribution. Once again you can have flyers printed at a very low cost and by distributing them yourself it is a very cheap way of getting your computer repair business out there – even more so because you can target local, residential customers.