How To Start A Tech Support Business
If you’re good with technology and wondering about how to start a tech support business, you may have a lot of questions. There are plenty of great reasons to start a tech support business. For starters, you can build your business from home. Not to mention, good customer and computer support is always in demand.
Let’s say you’ve followed everything written here, and are able to really grow your business. There will always be a few aspects of owning your own business that is stressful, or downright frustrating. Let’s start with these just to get them so you can decide if learning how to start a tech support business is right for you.
Most people simply demand their computers to do what they want them to without having to think about it too much. Your average home computer user probably is not looking to grow a knowledge base, they just want their system to work. Most people don’t read the instructions, they’ll close any error pop-ups without regard, they’ll ignore privacy and security warnings despite identity theft and cybercrime being all over the news, and they’ll rarely back up their data.
It’s like buying a sports car without learning how to drive first, ignoring the check engine light, and never getting the oil changed.
And then yelling at the technician when the car doesn’t start!
Clearly, a dramatic example, but it is important to talk about. When you supply computer customer support, you’re often working through a massive knowledge gap, and a lot of customers lose interest when you try and explain how things work, especially when it comes to technology. It can really exhaust you, although it’s a part of the occupation.
It is Difficult to Enjoy Off Time
When a customer’s computer goes down (or perhaps every time a client’s kid has accidentally deleted their homework) that person will need help instantly.
Obviously, part of this is about how you set boundaries and manage customer expectations. Unfortunately, the tech consultants who are hard to get a hold of don’t tend to perform that well. Freelance consultants are “on call.” Those who are willing to accept a customer call at three in the morning have the best chance to succeed at their tech support business.
There will be interrupted holidays and weekends with client emergencies that will force you to work unexpectedly.
After a time, this can begin to burn out you.
But it remains a fundamental fact that if you reach the point where you are bringing in decent money from running your own tech support business, customers expect an immediate response when things go wrong.
When You Accept a Job That System Becomes Your Problem Forever
Some customers are kind, friendly, and generous. Others are not.
We’ve all heard stories about the guy did a simple job for a client only to be called in a panic when something goes wrong with the same computer years later!
The fact that the customer has done nothing to keep that system healthy during the intervening time, means nothing. Never mind how they might have teenagers with a penchant for illegal software or get lured into malware sites! The accusation stays–you broke their computer.
Running your tech support business successfully is about boundaries and establishing expectations. Write those guarantees into your contract and know when to say no. But, it’s worth bringing up: being a tech support consultant can make you very frustrated with your fellow man from time to time. The successful business owners are the ones who don’t show it.
How to Start a Tech Support Business That Succeeds
Although you might think that the downsides mentioned above are exaggerated, it is important to know what to expect when you start a tech support business, both good and bad.
Before starting a tech support business it is important to have market experience and to take all necessary classes and certifications to ensure you have the knowledge base to complete this work successfully.
There’s a popular expression: “a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
Client’s servers and computers aren’t an experimental space, nor a place to “just try something.” If you accidentally delete a company’s data (or even a person’s precious family photographs ) you can quickly end up getting sued, or worse.
As a computer customer support professional, you have to adapt to best practices, avoid unnecessary risks, and stand by the tried and true ways of doing things. The “enthusiast” part of your enthusiasm for technologies has to be strictly restricted to your own personal PCs and apparatus.
If you haven’t provided tech support service before, consider carefully before assuming you are meant for this kind of work.
Decide If Your Market is Businesses or the Home User
There’s plenty of need for tech and computer support, both from companies and home users. Now that the average home has multiple routers and computers and all kinds of different devices, there are plenty of ways a tech support professional could be needed.
Many new tech support businesses will accept any job that is offered, but there are significant differences between residence and business support, as well as individual pros and cons.
Personal computer support for the home user is obviously an easier market for consultants who just hung out their shingle and are relatively inexperienced. However, don’t assume that means the clients are not going to be easygoing! A $100 tech support bill is a much bigger deal for a person than it is for a business, and expectations have a tendency to signify that.
Offering personal home tech support also means doing a lot more jobs at a lower rate. You will have to hustle for quite a few $100 jobs instead of working on landing that big $10,000 contract. A couple of hours spent sorting a list of household tech issues may well mean that customer never needs to see you again. Although good work may mean referral business, don’t expect to see a lot of repeat customers down the line.
Tech support for businesses usually pays more, although it requires way more experience and — quite honest;y — substantially more dedication from you.
Moving back to what we wrote above about taking time off, you’ll probably be fine if you’re only supporting home customers with no major pressing needs. Your average home computer user probably will not be calling you in the middle of the night because their internet is down. However, companies may need to know what kind of service levels they could expect out of you; If you want a week off, you will need to arrange coverage, or be prepared get online at a moment’s notice in case a server goes down or when a user doesn’t know they just need to turn it off and on again.
You’ll want to weigh all of the pros and cons when learning how to start a tech support business. Finally, be wary of providing home user support if winning contracts with businesses is what you’re really aiming for.
Once you get active, obtaining “urgent” calls from clients about one-hour jobs is the very last thing you’ll need when trying to supply a professional service to companies. One major thing you will need to decide on is if your tech support business will service home or business clients and stick with that market.
Decide HOW You’re Going to Give support
Your intention may be to offer remote service, but customers appreciate on site visits, especially in the early days of your relationship when you are first gaining trust and forming a connection.
Therefore, when starting a computer customer support service business is it’s sensible to expect to have to physically visit with your customers’ homes and offices.
The important thing here is to price this in. This is particularly relevant if you’re doing support for non-business customers. Travel to from the office is time spent, all of your time should be reflected in billing.
One of the most difficult concepts to wrap your head around when learning how to start a tech support business is how to deal with pricing your services. You may want to consider billing more for onsite work, as opposed to remotely accessing a client’s system. That is because to travel time, car expenses, and simply chatting with the customer come out of your profit margins. If you are putting in 45 minutes of driving for 15 minutes of work that could just as easily be done remotely at home, you need to bill the hour spent. Add in the fact that the essence of the job dictates that you need to allow for jobs running over on time, and you suddenly realize why call out charges get so pricey when you need home service!
Many new computer customer support businesses set out intending to do as much as possible, and this is completely understandable. But don’t underestimate the value of a personal touch. When you’ve completed one or two jobs in person, your customers will be a lot more amenable to remote computer support. Just ensure you are setting the expectation of remote work being an eventual possibility. After trust is established your customers might appreciate the immediate response remote work provides.
Realize That Tech Support Service is About More Than Technical Ability
This does not mean computer customer support professionals do not possess technical knowledge; It means that many tech support advisers often lack other critical attributes, like communication skills and the ability to describe complex technical things to individuals who neither know nor WISH to comprehend the intricacies. To put it plainly, bedside manner matters.
The reality is people don’t actually like not understanding things. You’ll begin to notice the instinctive reaction to a lack of comprehension is anger, aggression, and blame. How often have you heard someone blame the computer as if it was purposely trying to spite the user? When you put these people face to face with a computer customer support professional who looks down on their lack of knowledge and speaks in acronyms and jargon, things don’t turn out nicely.
Therefore, the consultants that succeed are those who combine technical understanding with plain layman English using their knowledge, customer service abilities, and empathy. These people become referred, recommended, and called back again and again.
Thus, it is responsible to reflect on this and determine if you have these qualities or are capable of developing them.
The tech support consultants that don’t have this personality rarely earn the repeat business that’s really crucial to success.
Let’s end with some tips on how to start a tech support business.
- Get insured
Don’t even think about touching a client’s computers (ESPECIALLY a business network) without some kind of business insurance set up. It’s far too common for something to go wrong, and a new tech support business is unlikely to survive a costly court battle, especially when the accident is your fault.
Inquire about Errors and Omissions insurance and make sure it is in place before you meet with your first customer. If a server or computer crashes, even if it is an accident, you will be held liable. Make sure you are covered in case of an emergency. You will want your tech support business to survive even after something goes horribly wrong.
- Keep Up With Your Training
Technology moves fast, so it’s worth learning new things to maintain your knowledge and skills base. Imagine someone who passed all of their necessary certifications in 1996 and never kept up with evolving and emerging technology, would you trust them to work on your systems? Want to learn how to start a tech support business is one thing, keeping that business alive is another. If you keep learning you can keep growing. Recognizable accreditations provide a boost to your credentials. Plenty of tech companies — even Apple — provide training that’s free or cheap. Search around for what credentials you can earn, specifically credentials that can make your services more appealing to a layman.
- Determine Your Pricing
What you could charge for computer customer support will vary depending on what kind of clients you’re working for and where you are based. You can charge more in Manhattan than you can in Columbus, OH. Know your market and charge accordingly.
An online search can get you an idea of the industry average in your area. The best way to get a feel for what to charge is to research some computer customer support businesses nearby. Keep in mind that it is a whole lot easier to lower your prices than it is to raise them.
- Be Selective
There will always be computers and systems you’re unfamiliar with and software you have never seen or heard of before. Honesty is crucial, and customers will understand if you have not seen absolutely everything in their network. The last thing you want to do is try and “figure it out” on the customer’s dime.
- Build a Support Network
I’m not suggesting that you have someone come along with you on your customer support jobs, or even have partners in your tech support business. But it will make sense to form relationships with other individuals with similar businesses.
By way of example, it’s definitely worth connecting with someone in web design if you’re providing tech support. It’s inevitable that clients will ask their computer customer support people for a web design recommendation. And to extend this thought, a company working with a web designer could certainly ask about any tech support professionals that could be recommended. You can either arrange some sort of commission or referral fee or do this on a casual basis.
Another reason is you are able to potentially act as coverage for one another, giving you the luxury of time off. Remember above when you were told to expect interrupted vacations and holidays? Having another tech support consultant to cover for you can allow you to have time off to recharge without sacrificing your business. And, of course, expect to return the favor.
Finally, on the topic of partnerships, you may find yourself landing a difficult contract you could not possibly fulfill on your own. Having trusted relationships you can subcontract some of your overflow work to can allow you to scale your business without needing to hire more people
- Do Not Get an Office
When you are learning how to start a tech support business, you are going to want to keep costs as low as possible. You may feel tempted to find some office space as your business first begins to grow. You don’t have to immediately dismiss the idea, just make sure it is an expense that can truly grow your business. There are investments and there are bills, try to have as few bills as possible.
- Do Not Overdo It
A lot of computer customer support technicians spend their time racing from place to place, hurriedly completing jobs so that they can get to another one. You may be hitting a lot of business, but chances are you are not doing your best work or leaving the best impression.
It’s best to aim to be doing work that you can be proud of and addresses all of the customer’s needs, and performing it for the right clients. Running a tech support business is not about building a customer list that is as long as you possibly can. You need clients who need things done correctly and are prepared to pay a reasonable rate for this.
It’s foolish to rush a job for a customer for no better reason than you want to hit five more jobs in order to build your book. You may have a busy day here and there, but it’s no way to build a business. Although it does take time to identify the “good” clients, being aware of this general rule ought to set you on the ideal path.
When thinking about how to start a tech support business first decide If you’re the right person for the job. If so, you should earn lots of money and never end up short of work. Although it’s not easy, there are few things more fulfilling than being your own boss and growing your very own computer customer support business.