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View Full Version : Trying to build Client Base of a VERY small Business


Computer Fixer
03-17-2010, 12:42 AM
Hello from a newbie to this site.

I am running a very small computer repair business from within my personal residence in a brand new neighborhood. I am on a very tight budget=no startup money. I posted my own sign offering computer repairs in my living room window which looks out onto the main street. Passersby can see the sign clearly.

This has generated about a dozen calls for repairs over the last 2 years. And a lot of my onsite calls were obtained from referrals. I'd like to have the business pick up, but due to monetary constraints, I cannot do major advertising. I cannot afford an internet homepage to advertise my services either.

Since joining this fantastic site I have been reading posts about everything here. And before I ramble on forever, here is my question (finally)

Does anyone have any tips or suggestions about generating more business on an extremely small budget? I welcome all comments critical or otherwise. And to all those that read this and reply (hopefully) thank you for indulging me.

NYJimbo
03-17-2010, 12:49 AM
<BastardMode>

You got to be kidding !?!?.

Google, craigslist, yahoo.... There are a million other places to post online. Local to you and national. Tons of online "newspapers" and "magazines" also offer this as well as computer repair or tech forums. I cant believe you actually put a sign in your window, but ok, thats funny so its cool. Anybody can afford a "internet home page".

Did you bother to read the forums here ? There is more info here about starting and promoting a computer business than ANY OTHER PLACE ON THE INTERNET. Use the search function, dont start asking people to rehash this all over again.

I really cant believe you only had a dozen customers in two years and think thats a good return.

Sorry to be so harsh but I really cant believe you havent found more info from this forum unless you are trolling or just dont know how to use this forum.

</BastardMode>

anonymous Mac Tech
03-17-2010, 01:20 AM
I posted my own sign offering computer repairs in my living room window which looks out onto the main street. Passersby can see the sign clearly.


Do you sell lemonade also? I'm going with this is a joke..Just like Jimbo said, forum search will tell you what you need to know.

Psychoticus
03-17-2010, 02:24 AM
Well while i agree somewhat with the above posts i will give you some help.

1) Host your webpage on a free domain like .tk or .cc
2) Find some money to invest in some sort of signage and post around town (even if it flyers
3) Word of mouth is good so try and encourage your customers to tell their friend, offer slight discounts for them and the new client and then not only will you get new business you'll get return business too!

That should be enough to get you started so go forth and search the forums ;P

Xander
03-17-2010, 03:26 AM
http://toronto.kijiji.ca

callthatgirl
03-17-2010, 03:52 AM
When I found TN, I knew I was home. First minute, first hour, first day.

:)

Elemdee
03-17-2010, 04:21 AM
On top of all that you could go the simplest cheapest (although college-looking) route possible and just make an info page with tearoffs containing your phone number and post it on bulletin boards like in Starbucks, local library, wherever. Then plan on taking some of that income and reinvesting it in your company. Get yourself out there!!




p.s. Jimbo, I like your style!

itmgr
03-17-2010, 05:35 AM
Most local online business directories have some sort of free listings, search in your local area for any place to stick your name.

hardtoremember
03-17-2010, 05:51 AM
When I found TN, I knew I was home. First minute, first hour, first day.

:)

They had me at hello...

I think you should go to callthatgirl's website, callthatgirl.biz and look at what's on her car. To me that is the best thing you can do with your money. People will look at it and if it is clear and memorable [like callthatgirl] you will start getting something going... But you do need a website.

Just this guy's opinion.

TriadPCSolutions
03-17-2010, 07:32 AM
biggest thing to do for little to know money, is business cards, lots of em. Get them professionally done for very little investment, and go around finding business where you can. Every repair you do, give them at least 5 business cards. Then go the extra mile for your clients, take the time to show them at least one or 2 good tricks (installing firefox with adblock plus, teach them to use the shortcut bar on firefox, if they don't have MS office recommend putting open office and show them how to use it etc..). People love that personal touch, and when you impress the heck out of a customer, and give them business cards, they become walking free advertisers for you.

Cambridge PC Support
03-17-2010, 07:36 AM
When I found TN, I knew I was home. First minute, first hour, first day.

:)

I stumbled across TN, and didn't really look properly cos it sat in my bookmarks for a few weeks.

Glad I didn't dismiss it as it's the best website I've ever found and wish I'd looked properly at it the first time round!

Computer Fixer
03-17-2010, 09:01 AM
<BastardMode>

You got to be kidding !?!?.


I really cant believe you only had a dozen customers in two years and think thats a good return.

Sorry to be so harsh but I really cant believe you havent found more info from this forum unless you are trolling or just dont know how to use this forum.

</BastardMode>

Well, certainly an interesting reply. First, a dozen customers in 2 years stinks. That's why I'm trying to promote the business and second I am not trolling this site and last I'm still learning to use this site and yes I will take your input (harsh or not) and use it to force myself to be more proactive in generating more business. I did ask for any and all input didn't I?

Computer Fixer
03-17-2010, 09:06 AM
Do you sell lemonade also? I'm going with this is a joke..Just like Jimbo said, forum search will tell you what you need to know.

You know, right now if it would help generate more cash, I would sell lemonade if it were practical. ;)

I will take your wise advice and do some digging around on this site for more info.

Computer Fixer
03-17-2010, 09:14 AM
Thank you one and all for all your comments and suggestions, they are invaluable indeed! And first order of business is to search this site more thoroughly first. :o

iptech
03-17-2010, 09:23 AM
Well, certainly an interesting reply. First, a dozen customers in 2 years stinks. That's why I'm trying to promote the business and second I am not trolling this site and last I'm still learning to use this site and yes I will take your input (harsh or not) and use it to force myself to be more proactive in generating more business. I did ask for any and all input didn't I?
It's not a business, it's a hobby. If you can't drive yourself enough to search for more business now then you will always struggle. Before you randomly start trying to seek business make sure you understand what you what from your business and then work on what you need to do to get to that objective. Draw up a business plan from there and it will become clearer to you as to how you can drive towards your goal - don't forget to factor in the time and cost of learning new and developing old skills; a dozen repair jobs over two years will not have given you much experience.

Not just on this site, but there are many good (and free) sources of help and advice in starting a business, but don't expect anyone to give you an instant formulated plan, you need to put in some thought, effort and a lot of preliminary work yourself.

Good luck.

onetech4all
03-17-2010, 05:34 PM
Computer fixer,
do me a favor and go to google and in the search box type this or copy and paste it:
" how to advertise your business on a shoestring " (don't copy the brackets)
and start reading.
Good luck, mate!

ProTech Support
03-17-2010, 06:56 PM
Computer fixer,
do me a favor and go to google and in the search box type this or copy and paste it:
" how to advertise your business on a shoestring " (don't copy the brackets)
and start reading.
Good luck, mate!

Wait for it................

Wait for it..........

Wait for it......

Here it is (http://lmgtfy.com/?q=how+to+advertise+your+business+on+a+shoestring+ )

onetech4all
03-17-2010, 07:17 PM
I thought that was funny :)

L-CSteve
03-17-2010, 07:31 PM
Hey if you want to start listing your business, you could create a free listing with Yell, Thomson Local, Touch Local, etc etc 'The Possibilities Are Endless'

Get Yourself a basic website and get an online presence, then maybe get a more functional site when you have a good cash flow.

Post flyers round your neighbourhood.

Basically - SPEAD THE WORD, YOU NEED TO TELL PEOPLE BEFORE THEY CAN FIND YOU

"Sorry about the caps, lol"

Computer Fixer
03-17-2010, 08:03 PM
To all the ones that actually posted useful information, I am very greatful. Thank you very much.

To the few (you know who you are) that thought my question was not worth even posting on this site and a joke quite honestly, take a lesson from your own motto:

"Technibble is a place for professionals, so lets keep it professional" ?????

I know that some of you don't even give a rat's.... about my qualifications or experience. I've been doing bench and onsite computer repairs for about 18 years for other organizations, not my own company! I only asked for professional advice from professionals, since most of you have been running your own businesses for years. And I am trying to strike out on my own!

I thought you all might have some unique advice for me, which I am greatful for, most of you gave to me. Well do not worry you doubtful few, I shall not be posting any more questions in this forum from now on. So you can breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate. And I will not recommend any of my peers to join this site. Yes, believe it or not, I actually do have peers!!!!

I am very disappointed indeed :(

Cambridge PC Support
03-17-2010, 08:08 PM
probably the best advice I can give is to stop being so touchy and grow up a little bit

Computer Fixer
03-17-2010, 08:29 PM
probably the best advice I can give is to stop being so touchy and grow up a little bit

Nice.. Thank you for that heartfelt response!!

ProTech Support
03-17-2010, 08:40 PM
To all the ones that actually posted useful information, I am very greatful. Thank you very much.

To the few (you know who you are) that thought my question was not worth even posting on this site and a joke quite honestly, take a lesson from your own motto:

"Technibble is a place for professionals, so lets keep it professional" ?????

I know that some of you don't even give a rat's.... about my qualifications or experience. I've been doing bench and onsite computer repairs for about 18 years for other organizations, not my own company! I only asked for professional advice from professionals, since most of you have been running your own businesses for years. And I am trying to strike out on my own!

I thought you all might have some unique advice for me, which I am greatful for, most of you gave to me. Well do not worry you doubtful few, I shall not be posting any more questions in this forum from now on. So you can breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate. And I will not recommend any of my peers to join this site. Yes, believe it or not, I actually do have peers!!!!

I am very disappointed indeed :(

Well I am going to go ahead and assume this was aimed at me, considering you quoted my signature....

Firstly, the post I made was not really directed at you, it was directed at the gentleman above me who had suggested searching Google. I was just showing an easier way to direct a user to a search. I did not think it was that serious of a matter, hence my comical tone in the actual post....

Secondly, how can you expect a serious response to a question that was obviously not researched on your part. Can you honestly tell me you looked into any free forms of advertising before you made that post? If you did, you most likely would have been familiar with small corners of the internet known as Craigslist, Yahoo! Local, Google Local Business Center, etc...

Now you tell me, if you spent years of working to build your business (as many of the members who posted in this thread have), and a random person who has clearly taken no time to research an issue (free advertising in your case), decided to take the easy way out (expecting everything to be handed to them via a post), would you not be slightly bitter?

Technibble is a place for professionals, so lets keep it professional. Do a little leg work before expecting everything to be handed to you.

</Rant>

Computer Fixer
03-17-2010, 08:47 PM
I apologise for misunderstanding. I was just asking for some advice from pros who have their own businesses. Maybe you all have some insights that I may have misssed.

And I have taken full time courses on "starting your own business" Maybe you have insights that were not covered in these full time courses. That's all.

ProTech Support
03-17-2010, 08:52 PM
I apologise for misunderstanding. I was just asking for some advice from pros who have their own businesses. Maybe you all have some insights that I may have misssed.

And I have taken full time courses on "starting your own business" Maybe you have insights that were not covered in these full time courses. That's all.

No hard feelings, I am just explaining why their was such a "harsh" tone in this thread. You should specify what methods (besides a window advertisement) you have tried (such as these classes you speak of).

NYJimbo
03-17-2010, 09:18 PM
I am very disappointed indeed :(

Ok, let's review....

Your initial post left the impression that it was written by a young kid who only had his allowance and lunch money to grow his business, not by a person with 18 years experience in the field.

Thats not an insult towards you, but that's what I got from it. Nothing about it left a hint you were a mature adult considering a real business venture, even if it had to be done on a shoestring budget.

I also found it amazing you could claim you spent alot of time reading TN and then ask the most basic questions that are part of the chatter here everyday. There must be hundreds of posts talking about advertising, getting the word out, getting more customers, but you must not have read them or cant extract any help from all of it ?

To claim you cannot afford a basic website it still unbelievable to me. You can get a domain for under $10 and even godaddy will give you some lame free space with it. For $2.50 a month you can actually find decent hosting. What person in their 30's (40's?) cant afford that. If you spent 18 years doing this then you must be at least 35, right ? How can anyone at that age not afford some tiny expenses like a webpage or even a crappy ad in some local newspaper or online service.

So, I am not going to apologise for my post, rather I still have to wonder if you are serious at all about this business.

In the end you only have yourself to blame for these responses. If you go back and re-read your original post you should really end up laughing about it and start over. However you are about to do the wrong thing again, and you are going to take it very personal and now will just run away.

Whatever. Why not just logoff, create a new name and start over. If you cant do that then you might not be ready to really go out on your own.

anonymous Mac Tech
03-17-2010, 09:38 PM
Ok, let's review....

Your initial post left the impression that it was written by a young kid who only had his allowance and lunch money to grow his business, not by a person with 18 years experience in the field.

Thats not an insult towards you, but that's what I got from it. Nothing about it left a hint you were a mature adult considering a real business venture, even if it had to be done on a shoestring budget.


+1. This is where my initial remark came from. There is also a select few members here in the past that thought it was really funny to post some ridiculous post about being a pizza tech, getting sued or selling a customers computer to light up a thread, then came along after 7-8 pages of rants from regular members and basically said (ha,ha, just a joke, didn't happen!). I also find it hard to believe that someone who has done anything professionally for 18 years, much less being a tech doesn't know any better than putting a sign in the living room front window for advertising. Lastly, if you are really that broke or that cheap that you don't or can't spend enough money to cover the fixed operating costs of running a business, much less any of the variable operating costs to running a business, you shouldn't expect any more than a dozen or so clients in the next two years either.

ATTech
03-17-2010, 10:43 PM
I've been doing bench and onsite computer repairs for about 18 years

I've been doing this for about 15 years

It took you less than a month to tack on an extra three years experience?!?!? I'm impressed...

Maybe It's the tech in me, but I'm not fond of information discrepancies...

iptech
03-18-2010, 01:29 AM
It took you less than a month to tack on an extra three years experience?!?!? I'm impressed...

Maybe It's the tech in me, but I'm not fond of information discrepancies...
Me too, I'll give anybody the benefit of the doubt, but this guy's story simply doesn't ring true. I'm calling BS on this guy.

An ex member of Technibble who took flight in last year's blood-lust???

0ldfart
03-23-2010, 05:33 PM
Well that answers the question of why the business isnt working for him :)

mtag
03-23-2010, 10:21 PM
Well do not worry you doubtful few, I shall not be posting any more questions in this forum from now on. :(

Keep your head up and hang around for a while. I have been reading this forum for quite some time and only got the nerve to join just this month. There are quite a few pet peeves that people have on this site and it may take some time to learn them all. Although I will acknowledge that some people on here are less than pleasant (downright rude) from time to time, there is a wealth of knowledge floating around here. My advice is that when you get a response that you believe is not helpful or possibly only to berate you, just ignore it and move onto the positive stuff.

Peaceful
03-25-2010, 06:47 PM
Here ya go dude http://www.officelive.com/en-us/free-website

Good luck to ya

nellj
03-27-2010, 01:23 AM
^^^^

Awww you beat me to it :) MS is a good start, they even have a WYSIWYG website builder. Or check out squarespace

iptech
03-27-2010, 02:16 AM
Guys, I think you'll find "Computer Fixer" has returned to the Military Academy, his mission here is accomplished. ;)

callthatgirl
03-27-2010, 03:01 AM
I was going to tell him to move his sign to the front yard.

My 2 cents, yes...if he read through the Business section here, he wouldn't have had to post this period.

Sorry newb, you had this coming. Even I on my first day breezed through all the forums...didn't post first day. In fact, I think it took me 2 weeks to come back after my first run through. Then I had a slow day and remembered this site and was home.

Computer Fixer
03-27-2010, 03:39 AM
Keep your head up and hang around for a while. I have been reading this forum for quite some time and only got the nerve to join just this month. There are quite a few pet peeves that people have on this site and it may take some time to learn them all. Although I will acknowledge that some people on here are less than pleasant (downright rude) from time to time, there is a wealth of knowledge floating around here. My advice is that when you get a response that you believe is not helpful or possibly only to berate you, just ignore it and move onto the positive stuff.

Thank you for your reply. You are right. I am new to this site and all comments negative or positive are a learning experience.

Computer Fixer
03-27-2010, 04:06 AM
I was going to tell him to move his sign to the front yard.

My 2 cents, yes...if he read through the Business section here, he wouldn't have had to post this period.

Sorry newb, you had this coming. Even I on my first day breezed through all the forums...didn't post first day. In fact, I think it took me 2 weeks to come back after my first run through. Then I had a slow day and remembered this site and was home.

Yes, I really am a newb regarding this site. I should have read through as many posts as I could before asking for help. And as for my not so mature responses to negative comments, "I should have looked before I leaped" before responding so quickly and immaturely as I did. :o

When I first came upon this site, I was blown away with all the diverse technical knowledge and insite from all the members. I would like to be a part of this so that I can, hopefully in the future, learn and give some back to help others as well.

To all those that have responded to my questions, I honestly and sincerely thank you. Everyone has made me sit up and think. And that is good! I'll try not to post really dumb questions, especially when there are obvious answers already at hand!