Should I, Shouldn't I?

  Legslip 23:55 06 Mar 05

I respect helproom viewers opinions and I am in a bit of a quandry.
I am 56 years of age and I am about to be made redundant. I have however, over the last twenty years without any formal training (i.e. through PC Advisor) learnt a lot about PC's both from a maintenance perspective and from a teaching perspective. I have repaired PC's to peoples satisfaction, with a good level of satisfaction/success, and spent many an evening showing them how to use them for a reward of a bottle of wine or two.
With being made redundant, I am wondering if I am proficient enough to venture into the PC support world. I do believe that I could offer support to many PC novices (as I have done) and earn a modest income which I need to survive on.
Basically I am looking to offer 1-1 support to home users and would appreciate opinions of whether I should consider:

- this as a business path,
- what I should do to further enhance my skills and
- some idea of an hourly rate to charge. I am considering £25.

Sensible responses would be greatly appreciated.

  FelixTCat 00:07 07 Mar 05

If you think you can do it, go for it. Your charge sounds reasonable, based on adverts I see in the local paper. The real advantage is that there is virtually no start-up cost.

There might be other openings; some local shops may already, or might like to, offer a similar service and you could try to get in on that network. Offer to demonstrate your skills to them.

Unless you are very lucky, it will probably take some time to develop a business; you might like to consider what income you need and how many hours you will have to sell to reach that level. Remember that you are in competition with your old self and with the neighbourhood kids.

I wish you good luck with whatever direction you choose to take.

  Happy Soul 00:20 07 Mar 05

Go for it and good luck. You have nothing to lose.

  THE TERMINATOR 00:28 07 Mar 05

Your hourly rate will depend on where you live, but I would get my advert in the paper as soon as poss. There are a lot of people out there with pc problems. If I get made redundant when I am 56, I would have no hesitation in taking your course of action. So go 4 it. If you need advice on setting up a business then your local council should be able to help....TT

  Legslip 00:29 07 Mar 05

I really appreciate your time and comments. I can operate from home and am looking for about £30k/year. It really is the senior years/novice that I am targetting. I do believe that I can crack most problems and those that I can't are generally resolvable via internet resources. The clientel that I propose to support will not appreciate or understand that area. I am proficient with most versions of Windows and MS Office applications(except MS Access) and all the other 'bits & bobs' i.e. Spybot, Zonealarm, AdAware, Norton etc. I am very experienced in good customer relations and really do understand these principles so I do hope that with good 'Customer Care' I can crack it. I suppose at the end of the day I just lack a little confidence in my ability but that will grow with experience.

  Legslip 00:33 07 Mar 05

Thanks everyone. It's a funny old world and you never know whats comining. I have always been 'employed' so venturing out on my own has its obvious trepidations but all of your remarks so far have given me the confidence to 'go for it'.

  Legslip 00:50 07 Mar 05

Does anyone think that there are any really good (cos' they are expensive) books or videos that support my ideas?

  Simsy 08:34 07 Mar 05

it seems to me that £25 per hour is not an unreasonable rate for a skilled person to charge, whatever the skill or trade, (if this includes materilas and travelling etc), it does seem that this is an unlikely expectation given that your target clients are novices/senior citizens. I would suggest that these potential clients are not going to be able to afford that sort of fee. Possibly a single hour, but can you really sort out problems in that time, all day and every day?

I don't mean to be dismissive of what you're capable of, but on the face of it, to me, £30k doesn't seems realistic in the circumstances you describe.

I wish you well, whatever happens.



  howard60 08:46 07 Mar 05

a word of caution - public liability insurance. Can you afford to be sued for damage caused by tripping over the cat/dog etc., loss of data etc., etc. I would separate the teaching from the maintenance aspects. I never touch a pc at its place of residence. For one thing whatever you did not take with you is what you need. Some things such as virus clearing take a long time with you appearing to do nothing. People begin to worry what they are paying for. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. Having recently taken the step to stop going to work I have found that I do not need the amount of income that I used to. As long of course that I can stop she what must be obeyed from visiting too many shops.

  compumac 08:48 07 Mar 05

I was in your position some ten years ago. The cost of advertising was exorbitant. I advertised weekly and had no response whatsover over a period of several months. I got by on perosnal contact and by recommendations from those people. I had ten years gradually increasing numbers of contacts and made a fairly decent living from it. I am well past retirement age now but am still contacted by people whom I do not know via earlier contacts. Go for it but be prepared for a slow build up.

  Yoda Knight 08:56 07 Mar 05

Simsy, I think an advantage of working for yourself would be that you are able to take peoples circumstances into consideration.

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