Mentor Required

  The Learner 14:26 30 Mar 2009

I have just joined the 2.5 million (redundant). I have looked after family & friends computers for some time but would now like to see if I can widen my scope and earn a small living by working from home and doing domestic PC repairs/servicing locally. I am concerned that my PC skill level and knowledge of running a small business may inhibit me so I would ask if there is anyone out there doing something of a similar fashion who would allow me to side-sadle for a couple of days. I would be willing to travel up to about 30 miles and live in Medway Kent. I would be perfectly happy to and would expect to pay for such a service.
Yours in anticipation.

  The Learner 10:05 01 Apr 2009


  jack 10:29 01 Apr 2009

We are all here
Ask your question and the definitive answer[s] will come back to you in hours.

  MAJ 10:45 01 Apr 2009

The Learner wants to be someone's apprentice 'for a couple of days'.

A couple of days isn't long enough for a start. Do you have any qualifications in PC repair? There's a hell of a difference between looking after family and friends computers and doing it comercially. What happens if you fry someone's motherboard, accidently overclock their CPU to a dangerous level when in the BIOS, or God forbid, wipe their vital data?

PS What does "bb" mean?

  The Learner 13:27 01 Apr 2009

Thanks people. Sorry Maj bb don't mean a thing. Had no response to enquiry so I wanted to close the issue and the only way to do it was to post something.
Anyway, I am only currently qualified in University of Life i.e experence. I do want to get further quals but they take time and that I ain't got. I do not intend to start overclocking CPU's and have never lost data to date (I always download to an external hard drive). I do need to get started and I am prtty sure an awful lot of PC fixers out there started in the same way. I just feel that I could ask/learn an awful lot in a few days.

  P1d 13:38 01 Apr 2009

I agree with Maj.

I've been working in IT for 17 years, and only decided 3 years ago that I felt I had enough knowledge to set myself up part-time until it takes off for me. I've done numerous professional courses through my full time IT role and as well as studied myself. Times will come when issues arise that you may not be sure how to resolve, you would need to think how you would go about this without losing the customers confidence (in my opinion this is different for everyone and comes with confidence and the rapport you have with your customers so if you've worked in some sort of client facing role this would be a huge help).

Even if it's only home users, there's lot of things to consider, least of all insurance, policies, advertising, paperwork (such as how you would invoice people), suppliers (if any) etc.

To be honest, I get a lot of work through recommendations, so I might fix one persons pc who then tell their friends and family and the next thing I'm sorting theirs too.

Good luck, if you have any questions, feel free to post them here, there's a good bunch of people with a wealth of knowledge.

Sorry to waffle on :) but I hope it helps (if only a little).


  compumac 16:19 01 Apr 2009

I agree with MAJ. Two days in insufficient. It is also dependent as to what area of the market place that you are considering.

I was in the same position some years ago and whereas I was not in IT but in purchasing. I had spent a lot of hours on my PC without any tuition whatsoever making innumerable mistakes and having no-one to help me, mainly because non of my colleagues were conversant with computers. Making so many mistakes I learnt a lot, such that work colleagues were asking my advice as how to get round problems that they were having and it also transpired that the IT manager was forwarding people to me for advice. I would state that I was never was, am not and never will be a whiz kid, but just someone who learnt a lot from their own mistakes. I was fortunate that when I was made redundant that the company asked me to go back a great number of times to help with computer problems and this by itself gave me the confidence to go it alone. I never realised until then how much I had learnt. Since then I have had a great number of customers and have earned a living from it. The majority of clients have come from word of mouth, from companies as well as private individuals.

1) Assess your current knowledge and ability.
2) Your confidence to work on your own.
3) To decide, in advance, your charges, both for travel and your time spent working, but be realistic on those charges.
4) Which corner of the market will be you targeting.
5) Is it hardware repairs or software problems that you would seek to resolve?

Newspaper advertising is expensive and I never received a single enquiry from six months of advertising. Could I suggest that you print out flyers with your details and push those in the areas that you are considering?

You refer to your lack of business skills, but that will come in time. Only take on tasks that you are comfortable with, - your confidence will grow.

There are a great number of contributors on this forum whose knowledge GREATLY exceeds mine, but I still have enough confidence to go and sort out other peoples computers.
As others have said there are people to hand who can help. You are more fortunate than I was, as this type of help was not available.

Keep us all posted.

Best of luck.

  The Learner 18:06 01 Apr 2009

Thank you lovely people. In responce to Compumac, 1. I have a friend who is highly IT skilled and qualified and he is going to do a GAP analysys on me next week.
2. I was a BT engineer for thirty years and worked alone with customers. I enjoy that sort of thing.
3. If I earn £50/day I would be happy so I can be competative on my rates (£20 £25/hour up to £50 max). Travel outside of 10 miles for a small additional fee.
3. I really only want to do the domestic market as it is friends PC's that I have developed my current skill level on.
6. I anticipate in this market area that I would be attending to nboth hardware and software problems.

I really only intend to advertise via flyers which I am currently producung and when not workinh will distribute myself, and word of mouth, Agree, newspaper ads are expensive and unproductive.

It will be really a test of initiative and I do expect to make a few mistakes but the person who never made one never learnt anything!

Also, the PC Advisor forum is a massive source of support, such as yours and I have found a parts supplier who are extremely keen to assist me which I am grateful for.

With 2.5 million out of work, the chance of a 9-5 job are remote, especially for an old git like me and this seems a way that I mght just earn a few bob.

Will keep you informed and thanks again.

  Batch 18:53 02 Apr 2009

Providing PC support, especially to the domestic market seems to be an unusual one as far as the customers are concerned.

Most people expect to pay for a professional to do various things around the home (e.g install / fix central heating, lay a patio, service the car etc.).

But when it comes to PCs there is often quite a bit of resistance. I suspect that this is down to a combination of reasons, such as:

- Most people have some degree of hands on experience and they object to paying someone to do what, on the surface of it, is little more than they do themselves (e.g. open up a few dialogue boxes, click here and there, install some sofwtare etc.). Of course, what they don't always appreciate is the knowledge and experience required.

- As PCs are getting cheaper and cheaper (often no more than £300 - £400), they object to paying someone a hefty wack to do whatever.

- Many people know someone (who knows someone) that works in IT and think "I'll just give so and so a call and he'll come round and fix it for a couple of beers". You wouldn't expect to do that with the Central Heating guy, so why would you do it with an IT technician?

I have first hand experience of the last point. I work in IT (for some 38 years now - most of this has been freelance and I have an accountant). Now, the accountant (also a one man band) charges me for the time he spends on my company's affairs (based on a hourly rate). Yet when he has PC problems he expects to ring me up and for me to spend time talking him through the issues or for him to bring his PC round for me to set it up and sort it out - and for what? A measly bottle of wine (if I'm lucky). Now, before you say that I should set out my terms to my accountant (as I do for other clients), I'm directly in the PC support business (plus my hourly rate is several time what my accountant charges). But that's not the point - it's the fact that it never occurs to my accountant that he is asking me because he knows that I have considerable IT experience (which he really ought to pay a professional rate for). You wouldn't ask the mechanic that lives down the road to spend 3 hours fixing your car and NOT bung him a pretty reasonable wedge.

Having got that off my chest, what are my points for The Learner?

- Your (prospective) clients may not expect to pay much (at all). On the other hand, the more you charge, the higher their expectation (of a professional service and a quick resolution to the issue)

- You may say, that's fine, I'm not going to charge high rates - but I bet they will still expect a professional service anyhow (as others have indicated).

- You might like to consider getting some "free" experience first of all. For example, you could offer your services free (e.g. 1 free hour to the first 50 customers). Maybe ask around your mates for other people that they know that you might be able to help out (again for free / bottle of wine etc.) to build up your expertise.

- Buy some decent reference books and read them cover to cover and experiment (use something like Acronis True Image first, so that you if you bugger things up you can always restore - I even done this on friends PCs as a first step before "helping them out").

- Get yourself a spare PC (with a minimum OS install on it) so that, on an ongoing basis, you can experiment (as above) and quickly restore (and still have your main system workking regardless of what you do to the spare system.

Overall, I have to say that I do have reservations about you going into this with what seems to be a quite low level of experience, but good luck anyhow.

  Batch 18:55 02 Apr 2009

In the middle of the large para above, that should have read:

"I'm directly NOT in the PC support business"

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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