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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