How to Start a Computer Consulting Business

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Image of a notebook displaying computer code on the screen

Computer Consulting: Quick Business Overview:

The need for computer consulting comes from, as you could probably guess, the popularity of computer use.

It’s becoming harder and harder to find a job that doesn’t require some degree of computer use.

We’re at a pivotal point in the history of technology and there’s a lot of demand for people who know IT.

Computer consulting isn’t for everyone, but if you have the knowledge and the passion, the market is growing more quickly every day.

Computer consulting is competitive, with each expert wanting to snag the good contracts, but it’s also a booming market with a lot of room for new people, and it’s just getting bigger.

Even if you’re already a computer whiz, at least a few of the people calling for your service are going to be running operating systems or computers that you are unfamiliar with.

It’s important to have a real passion for everything related to personal computers, Macintosh, PC’s, Tablets, and Cell Phones, Computer Peripherals, as well as the variety of operating systems. This is just for one computer consulting business plan: telephone consultancy. There are dozens of established ways of turning your computer knowledge into a full-fledged computer consulting business.

A popular method is to offer the services of your computer consulting business to various companies in your area. Plenty of companies are looking for computer consulting businesses they can keep on call for when a problem arises, but you can also offer workshops and courses to teach employees how to operate the software and hardware.

When you first start out, most fledgling computer consulting business workers will charge a flat fee for their services, and when you start building up a name for yourself, you can charge by the hour or, if you’re offering your services to certain companies, even draw a monthly salary (even from several companies at once).

Tasks And Skills Needed:

Business Specific Tasks:

If you are planning to do all the business tasks or hiring or subcontracting tasks, here’s a list of tasks that need to be attended to when it comes to the business side of running a computer consulting business:

Industry Specific Tasks:

Same as above if you plan to do everything yourself or get help, here are some of the tasks necessary to operate a computer consulting business:

  • Counseling business owners and others about what they need in the computer industry
  • Keeping apprised of computer innovations, new gadgets, and communication techniques
  • Implementation of strategies at places of clients’ businesses or your office

Approximate Daily Hours Needed:

General Hours of Operation: – When your business is open – Generally speaking, computer consultants work 9-5 and sometimes evening and weekend hours.

Hours Needed to Prepare – Before Opening and After Hours Activities – Assess the needs of each client and explore options and costs, return phone calls and inquiries, calculate time spent with each client and log for billing.

Number of Employees Needed:

Minimum Number of Employees -During the Start-Up Phase: You can start this business yourself on a full-time basis.

Number of Employees – Once Your Business is Up and Running Successfully:

Hiring Resources

How To Hire An Employee

Skill Requirements for This Business:
  • It’s a good idea for your computer consulting business if you subscribe to tech magazines and download plenty of trial versions of new software in order to stay on top of new developments. As we all know, there’s a new model of everything coming out all the time, and you don’t want your computer consulting business to be left behind.
  • Patience is a plus as well as getting along well and professionally with different types of people at different levels of knowledge.
  • Flexibility with time is important. Many clients may want to meet after business hours or on weekends.
  • Good organizational skills and attention to detail are a must
Business Licenses:

You will need a standard business license and any other permits or license requirements if operating out of your home.

Licensing or certification in different areas of the computer industry is desirable but not necessary. What matters is what you know and how to find good remedies for computing and communication issues.

Approximate Minimum Startup Cost:

Bare essential: – The average startup cost is $500-3,000.

Minimal exposure – A good way to get your computer consulting business’s name out there as an is to write articles for magazines and newsletters. If you’re playing to local businesses, see if the local newspaper could use a weekly computer editorial or question and answer section.

This kind of thing is, to be blunt, pretty much just a great way to show off. If you can become a sort of local celebrity as your city’s resident computer genius, you’re on the right track.

Necessary Equipment Needed:

Necessary Start-Up Equipment & Supplies:
  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Cell phone
  • Website
  • Scheduling software
  • Time-tracking software for each client
  • Bookkeeping software
Supplementary Equipment:

Equipment or helpful products that you can acquire to once your business is off and running:

  • office space and furniture
  • Audio/visual equipment and/or software for giving presentations
  • Presentation software (slides, short videos, etc.)
Monthly Expenses and Operating Costs To Consider:
  • Wages
  • Phone/cell phone
  • Internet access
  • Permits
  • Advertising/Marketing
  • Electricity
  • Water
Special Requirements and Considerations:
  • Find out all you can about the trends in the industry. Know your competition, in particular, their strengths and weaknesses. This will help you identify your competitive advantage. In other words, this will help you figure out what you can give your customers that they’re not getting from the other businesses. And keep from emulating the competition’s strategy. Instead, make the most of your own advantage points.
  • The success of this business depends on the quality of service, not the number of clients. Concentrate on spending excellent time with each client and word will soon spread. Be available to answer questions and stop in if requested.
  • You can shine above your competition by being extremely thorough in explanations, supplying current information, and making each client feel as though they are your only one.
  • It’s important to become a member of networking groups in your area that highlight small businesses.
Pros And Cons:

The Pros of Running a Computer Consulting Business:

  • Perfect business for someone who likes helping people with computer solutions
  • Hours can be your own
  • It is easily expandable
  • Is not affected by the economic climate as much as other businesses

The Cons of Running a Computer Consulting Business:

  • Can be highly competitive, depending on your area
  • It can mean traveling in inclement weather
  • Vacations can be hard to get unless you have employees to cover
  • It can be hard to stick with only certain hours of working with clients unless you specify 24/7 assistance
Type of Customers You Need to Attract :

The majority of your first customers will be small business owners because they have the fewest on-hand resources versus large companies that either have an in-house computer and communications personnel on staff or have an established relationship with another computer consulting firm.

Clients include large and small companies in the private sector; Federal, State, and local government agencies; institutions, such as hospitals, universities, unions, and nonprofit organizations; and foreign governments or businesses.

Revenue:

Management, scientific, and technical consulting services is one of the highest paying industries. Non-supervisory wage and salary workers in the industry averaged $913 a week in 2008, compared with $608 for workers throughout private industry.

Resources:

Industry-Specific Websites:

Computer Business Consultants

Courses:

How to Start a Consulting Business

Books:

Getting Started in Computer Consulting [Paperback]

The Computer Consultant’s Guide: Real-Life Strategies for Building a Successful Consulting Career [Hardcover]