Ask The Readers: The One Piece of Advice You Wish You Could Have Told Your Past Self

Ask the Technibble Community

Everyone has that one main piece of advice that changed their life/business that they wish they knew when they were first starting out. So, I want to ask the readers, What is that one piece of advice you wish you could have told your past self as a Tech/Business Owner?

I’ll start. For me it is to never stop learning and never stop improving.
In any business it takes time for you to establish your systems and eventually you’ll reach a point where things will start to run really smoothly. You have a steady amount of clients and you can handle just about any problems that come your way. All you need to do is repeat this process to continue making money.

In my early years I got into a fairly comfortable position and as a result I wasn’t working ON my business, only IN my business keeping the wheels turning. A year or two went by and I started to improve my existing systems such as slipstreaming my Windows CDs, experimenting with different forms of advertising and tweaking my existing advertising.

With just a few simple tweaks I started making significantly more money by either working faster (allowing me to take on more jobs) or my advertising being more effective. Which made me wonder how much more money I was leaving on the table, so I continued improving and haven’t stopped since. I just wish I had done it sooner since there was a fair bit of money I missed out on by not improving earlier.

So, whats the one piece of advice you wish you could have told your past self?

For those of you reading this via email or RSS reader, head over to the site and drop us a comment. I would love to hear your piece of advice.



Bryce Whitty

About the Author

Bryce Whitty
More articles by me...
Bryce is an Australian computer technician and the founder of Technibble. He started his computer repair business when he was 17 years old and is still running it 9 years later. He is an avid traveller and spends at least a month of the year in another country.

Comments (52)

  • Who's your money maker? says:

    Pay attention to who makes you money. Some customers are wonderful “freinds” that will talk for hours with you.. and you make no money. They always need just this one little thing and because they are so nice you bill them little or nothing. Some are difficult to deal with and you sigh a deep sigh when you walk out, but they may be the ones who make you the most money. Be sure you know who pays your freight. Keep sales and income records by customer. You may be shocked.

    • Russel says:

      I hear you on the one little thing. Some customers are really good at it, they know just how far they can take it before you will charge them.

  • Steve Aitken says:

    Always keep your customers up-to-date with the repair process.

    I had a to do some data recovery for a client, took just over a week…

    I would have been better to call him atleast once every 2 days with a progress update, makes the customer feel like they havn’t been forgotten & shows great customer service at the same time!

    http://www.repairitnow.com.au

    • Bryce Whitty says:

      Good advice Steve, a little call can prevent them from working themselves up not knowing what is going on.
      Its weird, they can get more upset that the repair took 2 days and they didnt know whats going on verses the repair taking 5 days and knowing whats going on.
      As long as they know whats going on they are happy.

  • catester says:

    No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. I don’t know who said it, but I wish I’d read that before the beginning of this week.

  • Chuck Romano says:

    Just Do It. It sounds cliche and I may sound like Nike, but just go for it, whatever “it” is. Don’t get sidelined by “paralysis by analysis.” Don’t be afraid to fail; if you are passionate about it, you’ll find a way to succeed. Sometimes it takes more balls than brains, trust me on that one! :-)

  • Josh says:

    I’m just starting, I literally put up my sign today, officially start keeping normal hours tomorrow. But something I learned way back when in the past, even at a young age, is that to assume they have no idea what you are talking about, and break down every detail of what you are doing. Not only does it put them at ease, it gains more of their trust, earns you a better reputation, and it can give you more customers.

  • Call That Girl says:

    What is that one piece of advice you wish you could have told your past self as a Tech/Business Owner?

    I wish I would have hired a FT tech sooner than I did, I would have grown the business better early on. I waited way too long and that added on more stress. Once you are making a certain amount of money consistently, it’s time to grow if you want more money. You will take a hit for awhile, but it all comes back and better, in my case.

    • Russel says:

      I know this is going to make me sound stupid, but what an FT tech?

      • Call That Girl says:

        Fulltime Tech, sorry.

        • Simmy says:

          Hiring FT Techs doesn’t generate more work though. You’re going to have to pay those you employ before you pay yourself even. Probably only advisable for those with a large startup capital!

          • call that girl says:

            “Hiring FT Techs doesn’t generate more work though. You’re going to have to pay those you employ before you pay yourself even. Probably only advisable for those with a large startup capital!”

            Simmy, do you have employees?

  • Traci McMahan says:

    Don’t put anything on credit cards unless you can pay it ALL off when the bill arrives. This was a lesson learned the hard way for me.

  • Russel says:

    Stop giving away free time and SELL..SELL..SELL..Your in business to make money your shmuck.

    All those times I leave a job and haven’t tried sell the customer one mouse or new router or anything just fixed their computer rounded down my time and went on my way never to hear from the customer again.

    If I only I had talked to them about things that were going to make me more money. Rather than spending all that time trying to educate them.

    • Mike says:

      With an attitude like that, it’s easy to understand why you never heard from those customers again.

      • Russel says:

        You spent all that time reading comments from everyone on the post and the best you could come out with was slagging someone off for trying increase the profit margins in their business. Thanks for that.

        • Mike says:

          What does time reading other comments have to do with commenting on your selfish and somewhat ignorant post? lol. Everyone else’s comment is good.

          There’s nothing wrong with trying to increase profit in a business, but your idea of going about it is wrong. As I said, it is clear why these people have not called you back.

          If they think you’re selfish, if they think you’re arrogant, and if they think that when they call you they are actually getting a salesperson instead of just a technician, then of course they will not contact you again. And what does that do? It significantly impacts client retention, which in turn means lower potential profits. :)

      • ThatGuy says:

        “If I only I had talked to them about things that were going to make me more money. Rather than spending all that time trying to educate them.”

        I think that is what Mike is talking about – that we should not see customers as dollar signs only, which the above quote sounds like.

  • Common Cents says:

    Resist investing in stocked parts as well as repair tools until you need them. For example I have some parts that have been sitting for over a year.
    Don’t pay for print ads in local newspapers. Total waste of money. Few people read them any more and even fewer actually browse through print ads. Post cards have worked best for me and there’s almost a very high chance that the recipients will at least take a mental note of the fact that you exist even when they throw your post card away.
    Visit malwaredomainlist.com, download and practice removing viruses off your test machine. Use InstallWatch Pro v2.5 to record and view what exactly the virus modifies and adds.

  • Howard Rubin says:

    I started business before email addresses for everyone is the “norm”. I should have done better bookkeeping and asked for email addresses and such early on.

  • Marcelo says:

    You should have a website and optimize it (SEO) like crazy, which means building backlinks to it dayly. So, when people search for “computer repair in Xcity” (or similar search) your site should be in the first three positions. Your phone will hang all day long. That is what I did even before I quit my day job. Months later I didn’t need any other kind of advertisement, except business cards and word of mouth, perhaps.
    By the way, the folks here at Technibble should return the field “website” in comments. I’m sure they noted how the quantity and quality of comments have dropped here since they removed it.

  • Rodney says:

    I have to say I came to the same conclusion as yourself; never stop learning the best business slogan to oneself that can be realized in this business. I have live this statement now but did not in the past; very sorry for it now. I was a mainframe computer person and my Technical Support skills started with the days of the IBM-PC that was costing about 2500.00 with the setup I was purchasing for the company. I ran into the Cobol CICS world working very comfortably and not having to learn everything that work was plentyful but now I am back in Technical Support and working on servers and PCs and learning a lot of new skills. No matter the platform it is forever changing and the computer systems will do away with some functions now being manned. So you must keep on progressing in knowledge but also functions as for as roles that it takes to run computers.

  • Kevin Boynton says:

    The list below are not only things i wish i knew 5 years ago, but they are rules of wisdom to live by.

    #1 – Cardio
    #2 – The Double Tap
    #3 – Beware of Bathrooms
    #4 – Seatbelts

    #17 – Don’t Be A Hero
    #18 – Limber Up

    #22 – When In Doubt, Know Your Way Out

    #31 – Check The Back Seat
    #32 – Enjoy The Little Things

    :)

  • Mark says:

    Choosing the right business name brand for yourself right from the start is very important ,also take plenty of time before business launch to make sure you have all things in place do your job. Do plenty of research and planning make sure you have all the tools required to do all your jobs before start day. Most Important Keep on learning!

  • Steve from www.2ndLifeComputers.com says:

    The best advice I can give is to listen to your customer needs and not their wants first before suggesting any kind of solution.

    My second advice is to exactly what Chuck said before, never be afraid to fail, as you will learn on your mistake and improve your situation next time.

  • Parry says:

    Use Accounting Software!!! I wasted tons of money early by not using accounting software and therefore not expensing business costs appropriately. And that in turn made my income tax much too high. Which also trickled down to not getting my rebates on GST, PST, and HST. (Canadian taxes.) And I’m not talking about work order or CRM software, I’m talking purely Accounting Software such as Quickbooks or Simply Accounting. Additionally, I highly suggest you do it yourself, even though it’s such a big pain in the butt. You’re not gonna get the kind of feedback about your business that a hands on approach will give you, from a Bookeeper. Take the bull by the horns and make it happen.

  • bob lou says:

    Always print (3) invoices for every job…one is placed on a clipboard near the telephone, one attached to the computer and one placed inside a file cabinet.

    Keep invoices on your clipboard up to date…parts on order, etc. Make sure when finished you write on the invoice what was done and the name of the tech that did the work. Make a note on your invoice that the computer is ready for the customer to pick-up and look through your invoices every morning to see the status of all your jobs.

    • Terry says:

      You might want to get 1 copy of that invoice in “the cloud” so you don’t have 3 versions going. That cloud is accessible where ever you are since your always near a computer. My plan is to have all accounting, service records and customer records in the cloud so I can update information and bill where ever I am.

      Anyone suggest a “cloud” solution for this? I’m still working for cash and track nothing. May become legitimate soon and will work toward using some cloud solution.

      I envision entering my records and invoicing the client using the computer I just fixed in their home. Maybe I’m dreaming.

      • Mike says:

        The cloud is good, but I would highly recommend you use your own devices to log in and manage records and not client computers. A small laptop or netbook in the car is always good. Depending on what cloud provider you use, you may also be able to use your phone.

  • TechLady says:

    I guess I wish I’d had the confidence I have now–but you only get that with time and experience. Customers were always telling me I should charge more (and when your own customers are telling you that, hello, maybe you should listen). I was too nervous to charge what I should have been. And then there was practically giving away parts…

  • David, The Computer Guy says:

    Give Business Cards out and keep some with you at all times. Be friendly will go a very long ways and show respect. Never act like you know it all and people will relax around you. After the repair is done sit them down and let them check it out with you. This reinforces piece of mind when the job is done. Let the customer know that they can call any time. Call them back in 3 or 4 days and check on them. Make sure everything is OK. It will show that you care. Go the extra mile. I have had customers who like me so much they would pay 250 dollars for advertisement for a year to help me out. I have been laid off for over 2 years now but I make enough money to pay my mortgage and feed my wife and child. I find word of mouth works the best. jerardi@gmail.com David, The Computer Guy.

  • Alan at Home says:

    Have a separate phone number for the business. While this probably wasn’t even a question for those who started a full time business, I just ran my business part time out of the house and so used my home phone number.
    We now get more calls for the business than we do for the family. The phone number is linked with the business so much that we don’t want to change it, and my wife doesn’t want a different home phone either…

  • Teknyka Tech Support says:

    Be careful of which techs you hire. Carefully review and fully test your “experienced” candidates. People desperate to get a job will always exaggerate their abilities.

    Here at Computer Repair Canby we also offer a 20 hour internship program for young technicians interested in computer repair. They get trained on our process and procedures and have to prove their dedication and potential before they’re even considered for hiring. During the internship/training period I watch everything they do very carefully – even if they say they know what they’re doing (otherwise they may break your customers computer and you’ll be liable for it – happened to me once).

    I agree with Call That Girl – hire at least one full time tech and take some stress off yourself! It’s very time consuming to train and hire but worth it in the long run.

  • Lucio Mollinedo says:

    100% cash upfront for new customers BEFORE fixing/installing/making/doing ANYTHING, and 50% cash upfront after that WITHOUT EXCEPTIONS.

    It’s easy for one as a technician to return cash in case the client isn’t satisfied, but the client can’t give you back your hard work.

  • Alvin Alvrez says:

    NUMBER 1 – Be friendly, turn up on time.
    If it’s a business that’s calling you for a repair go the extra mile and try and get there asap, this paves its way for future networking with that business and their friends. Always stress backup software and if working on a machine, image the drive first, and keep this image for 6 months because when the client doesn’t backup and you can give them their family photos back its the best adverting you will ever need.
    I always talk to business clients about their business, tax write off’s etc, how they are going, shows you care and understand the pressures they have also.

    • Jason says:

      How do you keep 6 months worth of disk images? I can’t see how to make that work?

      • Mike says:

        Yeah, 6 months is a long time. I keep images for at least 1 month, then after that I delete them as I need space for new ones.

        If you restore the client’s data and let them know you’re keeping a backup for 1 month, that gives them plenty of time to go through everything and make sure it’s all there.

  • Gloria says:

    Be organized! No matter how small your biz is, work goes more smoothly when you know where to find your magnifying glass, laptop screws, customer phone numbers, resource passwords, cds… Find a solution for cds/dvds that works. I found a box with numbered sleeves and and index on the insde of the lid. Now I can find my password cracker without looking through all my cd books.
    I used magnetic labels on my steel toolboxes and extra sticky post-its on my plastic boxes. Sharpies for all those cardboard boxes. One filing cabinet for customers; another for business stuff.
    I use a password keeper, print out periodically and put hard copy in a binder. Most often used/forgotten passwords are posted on my bulletin board.
    Leave togo bag in the car with whatever tools/paperwork you need for onsite jobs.

    TABLET — I use my Android tablet to access my customer database while out on jobs. It also has my calendar, email, tweets. I can use it as a mobile hotspot. I can test wifi connection to determine whether the problem is the router or the customer pc. and, of course, search for solutions.

    • Steve Ortiz says:

      Hi Gloria,

      I agree with your advice and I think being organized means being more efficient as well as having less stress.

      What software do you use to keep track of customer records?

      I am going on 12 years in the Army and getting ready to separate next year and I am really considering starting my own PC repair Business.

      Someone suggested I goto this website for valuable information and so far so good.

      A lot of people tell me to stay in the Army, because I have 8 more years to go for a pension, but I am not enjoying my job the higher I move up in rank. The more rank I make the further I am removed from the technical side of the IT world and replaced with meeting after meeting and reporting to “Non-IT” bosses.

      Not having a lot of fun right now so I’ve decided to start my own business and be my own boss. I’m curious to know what software out there exists to manage customer records, billing, and possibly remote tools.

      I am glad I found this and this topic is a great start

      • Anthony Hernandez says:

        Hi Steve. I use Quickbooks and sync it with Outlook, so I always have my contacts on my phone (I use MS Exchange).

        For remote support I use logmein.com and teamviewer.com

        hope it helps!

  • Daniel Jaslanek says:

    1) Get used to business problems because it’s imperfect.It’s pretty obvious advice but this is so true! Imperfection should be your main motivation to keep up you work.
    2)”Always hire character. Train skill”. That’s one of my favorites by Peter Shutz (was the president and CEO of Porsche)
    3)A picture is worth 1000 words.One designer gave it to me once and it was very wise. For example, that helps a lot in improving your website .

  • Levi Sheriff - Greater Designs says:

    Don’t concern yourself with carrying inventory or a huge chest of tools. Keep a cloud based tag-able note taking solution like Google docs or Evernote. The two main things you’ll document are the jobs you have completed that you may want to remember at another time, AND NOTES FROM PODCASTS. Podnutz, Mike Tech Show, Tech Vets, Mac Geek Gab, the Sales Guy – Quick and Dirty Tips, Bam-Cast, and the like.

    Quickly come to the realization what you are good at and what you are not. I can troubleshoot very well, it’s my nature. Being a car salesman, aka knocking on doors and cold calling renders me catatonic. But be creative in your hiring, you don’t have to hire someone full time to get things done. I have someone working for me that wants sales experience and doesn’t mind cold calling. He favors me paying him a set fee for only those house holds that he can get me into. Works great for both of us.

    Believe heavily in boot CDs especially a Linux Live CD, it will save you many times.

    Levi Sheriff http://www.greater-designs.com

  • Chris Rahm says:

    Most businesses fail not because the owner is incompetent of the service he/she is offering, but because he/she lacks the knowledge needed to run a business.

    Befriend knowledgable business people and a good CPA who are willing to help and guide a young entrepreneur in the right direction. You are experienced in IT, but they are experienced in business. Trust me. You are going to need these people to help your newly acquired journey into business to be a successful one. Add them to your contacts. You will contact them a lot.

    Continuous Improvement (IT Education, Business Education, Marketing Education, Human Relations Education, Professionalism and Efficiency)

    We as small business owners not only need to know how to work on computers and configure networks, but we need to understand everything else as well. Until we are able to establish ourselves comfortably, it is us that performs everything from mopping the floor to maintaining the business finances and taxes. Oh yah. We have to perform the services we offer in there as well.

    Buy a hat rack. You will be wearing many hats before the day is over. :)

    Chris Rahm
    RahmTech Computing, Inc.
    http://www.rahmtech.com

  • DavidF says:

    Adjunct to Never Stop Learning.
    Ask questions, whether it’s your customers, your mentor/s or your peers.
    Keep accurate records and make sure they are backed up, then back them up to at least two other places.
    When asked for a seat of the pants quote go in high, real high. Negotiating down is much easier.
    Bite off more then you can chew, then chew like hell but… make certain you won’t choke before you decide to chew.
    Always wear sunscreen

  • NixTech says:

    I learned many things. Chief thing being accounting. Always keep an eye on the books. Make sure to pay yourself normally, like you are a regular employee. Never ever pay your personal bills from the business profits when times are tough. Taking loans out of the business profit is a big no-no. I wish my accountant never told me that was a good idea, and I listened against my better judgement.