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starting a computer business

Posted on 2006-05-26
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to the computer family
let me say for years i have heard my friends and family say why dont you fix computers since you are getting so good at it. i use to volunteer at the library. i went to two computer classes that was oftening it in my community and i have certificates for sitting there going thru that whole software package the instructors had and i had to remember all of that stuff in order to pass the test to get those certificates now from there im self taught person i have learned how to install hardware and software just by getting down and doing it and im sure if not most of us if not all of us have did this at home  i do 90% hands on working on pc's taking them apart putting them back
and 10% study one book in particular is the A+ Certification  by michael myers im studying that book to the letter. and for years it took to me realize that i have a gift from the most high father and now im just coming out of my shell to want to even do this pc work and  i mean after all of these years. so i want to help the one who dont know how to  work a pc and as well as start my pc business and just recently i went to the computer room in my community and now they want me to work on there's so again i need all the help i can get this is why i come here to ask for help or get advice cause im one who  dont think i know it all. so if you have any information please sent it to me.and i will research too cause i want to get into selling computers too not now but in the future right now i want to set this up right so if anyone have more advice that will help please write me and let me know.keep me on point family and  my dreams with come true i will get my A+ certification soon and when i do i will let the family know oh the name of my company is the pc doctor james upgrades inc. peace out family
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Question by:michael9822
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BillDL earned 600 total points
ID: 16774546
Hello again Michael :-)

Allow me to continue some of the things I was saying in your other question (http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/Win98/Q_21863952.html), and pay particular attention to some of the new things you have said here.

You have certainly made the right start by attending two computer classes, and now taking the A+ Certification.
You are also gaining some valuable experience that no book can teach you, and that is the practical experience of breaking down and rebuilding computers.

The fact that you recognise that you "dont think i know it all" is a good sign.  Nobody, not even some of the very highly qualified and experienced experts here, know all the answers.  The only way you really discover things is when you actually come across them and have to figure out what to do.  OK, so you may remember some of the theory from the books you read, or maybe have to consult them again to refresh your memory, but not all situations are the same.

One thing I find fascinating about Experts-Exchange is when somebody asks what seems to be a very standard question, but several experts offer advice that explores the problem from different angles.  Different people approach the same problem from different angles, but usually they all aim towards the same solution.  Books and courses tell you all the classic troubleshooting steps, and what order to perform them, but sometimes there are small complications that make you think out the solution to bypass the complication and add a step, or miss one out.

Experience is really what matters in those situations, and nobody can teach you that.  This brings me to one observation that i think is very important for where you want to go in the future.  If I take my car to a garage to have an engine problem fixed, I am hoping that the mechanic:
1. Is qualified to work on my car
2. Has had previous practical experience fixing the same type of engine problem
3. Is familiar with my make and model of car engine, or has so much experience with other similar cars that he can adapt that knowledge to fix mine.

I would not be very comfortable leaving my car in the hands of a newly-qualified or trainee mechanic unless he was being supervised by a more experienced mechanic.  Mechanics recognise car problems by particular sounds and vibrations, etc, and can usually remember a similar type of problem some time in the past which they fixed.  Like computers, cars can present problems in a lot of hidden ways.  You don't want an inexperienced mechanic to tear your whole engine apart searching for the problem that a more exprerienced mechanic would have known exactly where to look, and only remove a couple of bolts to fix.

That's where your main problem lies.  In a lot of jobs, experience is just as essential as qualifications.  Working on computers is, in my opinion, one of those types of jobs.  So what I would recommend, before going out on your own and starting a business, is that you first try and get a job working in a computer repair shop.  Even a Saturday job would be very good experience, and this would let you handle a lot more different types of computers and different problems to build up that experience.  Even if your main job is formatting and reinstalling operating systems, you would be getting a lot more exposure to a variety of other problems and would be talking through problems with the more experienced technician.  You learn more that way.

Give it 6 months to a year, and you can then tell people that you used to work as a repair technician in a shop.  That is a lot better than somebody having to guess whether you have had any practical experience at all and trust you to fix their computer without breaking it further.

I can't quite understand what you mean when you say:
>>> "so i want to help the one who dont know how to work a pc and as well as start my pc business and just recently i went to the computer room in my community and now they want me to work on there". <<<

Have they offered you a position working there teaching others, even on an unpaid basis?
If so, then that is very promising and you have obviously shown some talent and enthusiasm that the tutors recognised.

On the practical side, to gear you up for break-fix work on peoples' computers, here's what I would suggest.

1. Get yourself a good quality proper tool set, and know how to use all the tools properly
2. Create a "kit" that contains everything you may need when you go to someone's house to look at their computer.
3. Get experienced on as many different operating systems as you can - including Linux
4. Don't be afraid to consult a book as a reference if you need to.  You can always tell the owner that you need to "look up a table of settings" (or something like that) which nobody would expect you to be able to remember.

A good "kit" would be a Bootable CD containing emergency programs like AntiVirus Utilities and data rescue programs.
Create one using the instructions and references here:
http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/

Download the hard drive diagnostic utilities for all the different makes of hard drives and make bootable floppies or CD's so you can run them.  Also do the same for Memory Diagnostic programs.  The last thing you would want to do is have to tell a customer that you will have to go home and pick up some CD or program that you forgot to bring with you.

USB Flash Drives are quite handy, and you can copy standalone email clients and internet browsers to them (eg. Portable Firefox and Thunderbird) so that you can download something from the Internet if needed.  Better still, a Laptop with everything you need on it, and the means to access the Internet and burn CD's/DVD's as required.

Hopefully this has addressed a few of your queries and will help you aim towards where you want to go.
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by:BillDL
ID: 16774560
Oh yes, and carry a spare Power Supply and all the different types of spare cables with you (in your car or in a small shoulder bag - close at hand).  It's easier to diagnose a problem if you know how to eliminate possibilities first.
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by:BillDL
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One thing I didn't address from your question.  You said that you would like to get into selling computers in the future.
If you start visiting peoples' houses to fix computer problems, do upgrades or setups, etc, then chances are that you will find some families who have bought a new computer and the old one is still sitting there.

That gives you two options:

1. Offer to upgrade the old one as a "second computer", for while the kids are using the main PC, and to connect it up on a home network to use Internet Sharing.

2. Make them an offer to buy it, then upgrade it yourself and sell it to someone else who needs a second computer as described above.

Building and selling computers is a VERY competative world, and you are up against people or home-based businesses trading on eBay, etc, who can buy components in bulk and undercut some of the larger computer warehouses because they have no overheads and don't need as much profit margin.

You also have the problem of supplying an operating system in the computers you sell.

I believe you should concentrate on the "technician" side of things and research computer selling as you go.
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by:gonzal13
ID: 16781370
There are another certificates offered by Microsoft that you should look into.

Also when you start working at a repair shop, I would start collecting websites, diognostic programs as Bill mentioned. I for example on xp have about 300 URLs that I can use as a reference.
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by:BillDL
ID: 17017590
Sounds fair to me :-)
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by:BillDL
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Thank you LeeTutor and CetusMOD
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