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Small Business Ideas Forum

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Old 28th November 2011, 02:23 PM   #1

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Default Suggestions On Where To Start?

Hello Everybody,

I'm new to these forums so please let me know if I've posted this in the wrong area. I'd like to give a brief description of my current situation and would be happy to receive any constructive criticism or suggestions from experience people.

Basically I currently work full time as the head of the tech dept. for a school district. That being said I'm very knowledgeable in the field of technology and have a very strong desire to more forward in my career.

I also currently run a small computer repair business on the side where I do things like virus removal, computer cleanup and hardware replacement. Given the location in which I live it would be impossible to live off of the revenue I receive from my side business due to low population but it has definitely shown me that there is money to be made in running a small business.

I am planning to stay here for another 2-3 years in order to leave with 0 debt and good financial state and I am considering starting another small business when I do. For the business I'd also like to incorporate the sale of products as I can see a large amount of income generated from that. I figure 2-3 years should be a good amount of time to get a solid plan set in stone.

The problem is that I have no background in business. The majority of my experience is in the field of technology in which I do mainly the following: User Workstation configuration/repair, Server configuration/repair, Wiring, Networking, Security/Virus Removal, Hardware installation/setup. Given that I also handle all tech purchases for the district I'm also very knowledgeable about how/what to use and I think that gives me a bit of an edge regarding products that I know would sell.

My main question for you guys is simply where should I start with all of this?

How would I go about finding wholesale/warehouse distributors that could give me competitive reseller pricing?

Where I live right now there is no competition but I know there will be in a large city, what difficulties can I expect from this and how can I challenge them?

Is it worth it to sell products online? If so I am fully capable of building/setting up a website.

What challenges would come with selling products online and what would be the best way to market my products? Facebook? Twitter?

Also, any other suggestions or criticism you guys can give me will be greatly appreciated. Please keep in mine I have limited business knowledge but am open to learning if pointed in the right direction. I have 2-3 years to get ready for this so although it is pretty far away 2-3 years flies by pretty quickly.

Thanks a lot for any help.

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Old 29th November 2011, 05:21 AM   #2
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Hi! nice to meet you here! this forum can ask many od your questions. I hape that you have smth to share with us. dont be afraid of asking questions!

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Old 29th November 2011, 02:46 PM   #3

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Thanks, I'm hoping somebody can help me get started. Once I get things in order and start building some knowledge of my own I definitely plan to give back to the community.

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Old 1st December 2011, 08:44 AM   #4

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Where to start... I think you have already found that answer without realizing it. You start small like you are doing with your computer repair services business.

Selling products online is tricky and will be very, very challenging if you are just looking for a supplier then putting their products up on a site and hoping to make money off it. Why? Because every single one of the distributors from that company put the same products online. And oftentimes the "factory direct" companies have retail sites of their own and undercut everyone.

A few tips - try your best to avoid debt when starting. Don't just buy up a bunch of products and think you can turn around and sell them. You have already said there isn't enough business in the computer repair, so don't buy a bunch of computer related products thinking that'll be the answer.

Generally the formula for starting your own successful business is this: Start doing something small on your own, fixing computers, cleaning pools, mowing lawns, making widgets, etc. Focus on SALES, then focus a little more on SALES. You need to build your customer base. Put up flyers, try some local internet marketing, word of mouth, go to a local trade fair, etc. Once you continue to build up a customer base that is larger than you can handle, you hire someone to help, rinse, repeat.

It's really quite simple. But the key is sales. Figure out what you want to do then spend a majority of your time prospecting for new business. Sales is the most neglected because no one wants to do it, so you do "busy work" to avoid it. But get out there and find new customers.

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Old 5th December 2011, 08:38 PM   #5
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Default Not a bad idea...

Hi tbradley,

Incorporating the sale of products into a service business is a very lucrative way to make money. You already have the customers, so adding in some products would work well.

Wondering where to source products from is easy to remedy. You just have to do some really good research. Search online, search your local business directories, and look for local trade shows (where suppliers showcase their products to prospective customers). If you want to purchase products from overseas, check out alibaba.com. They are a really good B2B connector. Just search for the types of products you are after and find a supplier. They generally deal in large quantities, but you can ask for sample runs to get you started.

When you move to a more populated area, the difficulties you face are no different from the ones you will face gaining new customers for your computer repair business. Advertising your services to local businesses, with flyers to houses, and local print advertising is really the only way. Start with the repair side of things (people trust that more) and build a network. Then add in your products (like you are doing now) and look to expand the product side of things so that you (eventually) establish yourself as a local supplier. You might choose to specialize in especially hard to find parts. Or you might like to run your business marketing the fact that with so much experience, you can survey a customers tech needs and recommend everything they need (which saves them money in avoiding what they don't need). Look to bring on contractors to work with you with the same amount of experience, so that you can not only see a future where you step back from the business and let others do the "hard stuff", but so that your customers will really believe that anyone who works in your business knows a hell of a lot about what they are talking about!

My advice is not to concern yourself with setting up an online store. There are people out there who have been doing it forever, and it is their marketing and business nous that makes them succeed - not their tech skills! You have a phenomenal background in tech skills. Use them to your advantage and the advantage of your local community!

Best of luck...

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Old 6th December 2011, 09:14 AM   #6
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My reply will be a litle different. This is a small business forum so you can expect small business advice. However, that is not the way to make big money. The way to be financially successful in business is to have a big business and hire lots of peole to do the work for you. But you are not ready to start a big business. Not to worry - you have said you intend to stay at your present job for a couple of years, so you have time.

First, I applaud your patience. So many people want to jump straight in, with little preparation. You are smarter than that. While you are getting yourself into a sound financial position, I suggest you also embark on a course of study. You appear to have the technical knowledge and experience you need for the type of business you want to start. Depending on the scope of your current job, you may have experience of managing people. What you appear to be lacking is any experience of marketing. That is the area you need to study for the next two years, plus some reading on management ("Good to Great" by Jim Collins, is a great book to start with.)

I suggest you immediately start a website to market something. But, don't think of it as a way to make money - think of it as a way to gain experience in marketing. Use the site to experiment and put into practice the marketing ideas and knowledge you accumulate from your marketing studies.

That will keep you busy for the next two years. In two years time, you will have technical knowledge, marketing knowledge, management knowledge, and experience in all three. You will have the money to start debt-free. These are essential elements of creating a business that is substantial enough to provide a high level of income and a huge amount of personal satisfaction.

While you are doing all this, dream. Dream about the business you are going to build. What will be unique about your business? Create some enormous vision - Bill Gates' "a computer on every desk!." Imagine a vibrant office building like Google's, with excited employees, happy to come to work everyday. See your name on the face of that building. Think about the wildest possibilities of your chosen field and then go a step further into the impossible - because by the time you have grown your business into the huge enterprise you want, what your people will be doing will be impossible in today's terms.

I wish you good fortune.

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