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Small Business
Setting up a PC repair shop
November 14, 2000: 12:15 p.m. ET

To build a business, do your homework, position yourself as a specialist
By Jane Applegate
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Dear Jane: I've been thinking about starting my own computer repair business. I'm certified in PC repair and PC support, but I don't know what to do about setting up my own shop.

The first thing you have to do is make sure there is a need for the services you want to provide. I would suggest buying a mailing list of local businesses (contact your local chamber of commerce or economic development department) and send out a simple postcard describing the services you plan to offer. If enough people respond, you will be assured of having a few paying customers right away.

You might consider marketing your repair services through a local computer dealer or small office supply store that wants to offer more services to its customers. If they agree to work with you, you would probably pay them a small referral fee.

If you focus on serving local small business owners, rather than large companies, you'll have a better shot at success. Most business owners know very little about their computers, yet buy very powerful systems that seem to crash and burn on a daily basis.

If you position yourself as a quick, affordable solution -- sort of like a PC support person on call -- you probably will do very well. You might also suggest you install remote access software on your client's machines so you can fix minor problems from your own home office.

I also would suggest taking a basic "starting a business" class at a community college or at a Small Business Development Center. You can find a list of free workshops and classes offered by the U.S. Small Business Administrationgraphic

Jane Applegate, a syndicated columnist and the author of 201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business answers your questions here regularly. Readers with questions can e-mail her at: . She will answer questions of general interest in future columns.

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.