Do you remember how much fun you had taking apart electronics and putting them back together? Remember the feeling of getting your first computer and coding your first program?
It’s not too late to launch a career inspired by what you love. Even better is that you can use your natural entrepreneurial skills to turn your passion into a thriving local business.
The next computer repair shop in your neighborhood isn’t going to open itself. Don’t let someone else beat you to the punch! Follow these steps to open your shop right away without a hitch.
1. Get Educated
Unlike many trades, computer repair doesn’t typically have state-mandated trade licensing requirements like electricians. You also don’t need a college degree to become a computer repair professional. However, certifications are highly preferred in the industry.
The most important industry-standard certification is the A+ certification. CompTIA awards these professional IT certifications every year, and testing starts in the fall.
The CompTIA A+ certification consists of two exams. The “essentials” exam tests applicants on entry-level IT knowledge and the second exam tests an applicant’s ability to apply IT concepts.
Though not required, aspiring computer repair professionals are urged to enroll in an IT associate’s degree program. Associate’s degrees are affordable, offer comprehensive entry-level education, and they’re offered at most local community colleges.
2. Learn the Ropes
Now that you have a little knowledge under your belt, it’s time to get some real-world experience. Your next step is to apply for a job as a computer repair technician.
There are several career routes you could take. You could start with a large corporation like Best Buy and join the big-box retailer’s Geek Squad. There are also computer specialist positions at Apple, Wal-Mart, and Target.
Another way is to start local and apply to a small computer repair shop. Small businesses give you a chance to wear multiple hats so that you can learn about purchasing, customer service, and marketing.
You may want to consider applying to a computer repair business that makes service calls to homes or schools. This point speaks to the next issue of discovering your future shop’s niche.
3. Find Your Repair Niche
Computer repair covers a wide range of repair needs. Now, smaller items fall computer repair, like smartphones, tablets, and e-readers.
If you don’t want to cater to everything, you may want to consider specializing in a particular type of repair, like PCs, iPhones and Apple products, or android phones.
If your community lacks a computer repair shop, take advantage of the demand and offer a wide selection of repair services. You could also provide mobile service and data plans too.
4. Define Your Market
Understanding what your local community needs is one way to define your market.
To narrow down your target audience, you’ll need to conduct a broader market analysis that considers annual income, age, consumer needs, geographical location, and other demographics.
Market research is used to create consumer profiles. These profiles help clarify business goals and generate more precise marketing objectives.
5. Set Goals for Your Computer Repair Shop
You can’t run a business without goals. Goals give you direction and milestones to work toward.
After clarifying your target market, sit down, and draft a list of manageable goals for your business. Start with goals for your first quarter. These goals could include a target number of new monthly customers, a quarterly sales goal, or a target conversion rate for a grand opening sale.
As you reach more business goals, set more goals, and increase your expectations. Strive to go above and beyond during peak seasons to increase your revenue.
6. Write a Business Plan
You also need to set goals if you’re writing a business plan. Business plans are practically mandatory if you want to get a bank loan. It’s also good business practice to create a plan of action.
Along with goals, your business plan should include the following points:
- An executive summary at the start
- General business overview
- Your plan for operations
- A market analysis (you have that!)
- Description of computer repair services
- Your sales and marketing plan
- A review of your competition
- Future management plan
- Financial goals and management
- Business projections
Business plans cove a lot of ground. It doesn’t hurt to consult a business coach or lawyer during this process. It’s crucial to get your business plan right!
7. Acquire Capital
With your business plan in hand, your next step is to acquire funding for your business.
If you have good credit and an exceptional business plan, your chances of getting a bank loan are much higher. Many business owners get turned away for bank loans. Don’t get discouraged if this happens to you!
Many financial institutions work with bad credit or business owners without a credit history. You can also seek funding from Angel investors or talk to a family member who can help.
As you look for funding, don’t forget to sacrifice and save. Every penny counts when you’re opening a computer repair shop.
8. Choose a Location
Congratulations! You now have the money to open your business, but where are you going to put your shop?
Location matters for local services. Choose a location that has a demand for your services but also has the foot traffic to attract more customers. Avoid opening up a shop in areas that are hard to see, like narrow alleyways.
If you choose an upstairs location, make sure to install a prominent shop sign, so customers don’t miss your shop.
9. Get Permits and Licensing
Does your city know you’re opening a business? If not, you better get on that!
Make sure to fill out all the necessary paperwork. You’ll need to open a business account with your local bank. You’ll also need business permits and licensing to operate.
Visit your city’s local chamber of commerce after acquiring your permits. You’ll discover lots of small business resources for entrepreneurs.
10. Market Your Computer Repair Shop
Your final challenge is to create a marketing plan for your computer repair shop.
Fortunately, it’s never been more accessible and affordable to market repair shops online.
Set up social media accounts for free, include a blog on your website to educate customers about smartphone repair, and implement an Adwords plan to attract valuable Google traffic to your shop.
Online marketing is great, but don’t forget about traditional marketing methods. These techniques include attractive signage, local newspaper ads, business cards, and local TV spots.
Repair and Profit!
You’re another step closer to your dream of opening a computer repair shop. Your next step is to take action!
Follow this guide to kick-start your venture and check back often for tips and tricks for ambitious entrepreneurs like yourself.