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Starting my own business.

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by Maruchino, Feb 2, 2008.

  1. Maruchino

    Maruchino Bit Poster

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    Hi there, this is my first of hopefully many posts on certforums.

    I would like the opinion of fellow certforum members regarding certifications required/needed/welcomed when starting your own business.

    It is my intention to go into business with a friend later this year. We plan to open a computer shop in my home town and to operate a home call and business call service alongside. We are both university educated (my friend graduates this year). I studied bsc computer science, and he is studying maths w/ statistics - so we both have a technical background. I also have a national diploma in computing, and at one point I did complete instructor training for CCNA, but never took the exams. What I am asking the certforums community is your opinion on what certifications you would take if you were going to do what I plan to do. After trying and failing to land anything worthwhile in the IT industry, I have decided I may as well go down the self employment route.

    I have a full time job at the moment, but have enough spare time to study hard for any number of certifications - but where should I start? From what I understand, A+ will cover many topics I already know, but is it worth becoming certified just for the sake of it? In your personal opinion, what certifications are the most attractive to consumers (obviously anything with microsoft in it immediately jumps out at consumers..) and to local business'?

    Obviously as professionals we would like to accumulate as many certifications as possible, but in what order would you suggest considering our/my situation?

    Any opinion or advice is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Martin.
     
  2. Boycie
    Honorary Member

    Boycie Senior Beer Tester

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    If you are going to be provinding services to local businesses, then i would suggest learning the technologies they will be using; XP, Vista, Office 03, 07, SBS perhaps?

    If you want to get certified along the way, then A+ > N+ > MCDST > MCSE is a popular, logical route people take.

    You can also get advice for business stuff from your bank, the Inland revenue for self employed and companies house for registering a limited company.

    Good luck.

    Simon
     
    Certifications: MCSA 2003, MCDST, A+, N+, CTT+, MCT
  3. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    For some reason I can't access the CompTIA site at the moment, but becoming a CompTIA Authorised Service Centre may be something you want to consider. Link here
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCP, MCDST, MCSA 2K3, MCTS, MOS, MTA, MCT, MCITP:EDST7, MCSA W7, Citrix CCA, ITIL Foundation
    WIP: Nada
  4. Sparky
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    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    The points made by the other guys in regard to certs are sound.

    Personally I would aim to support home users to start with before you start approaching small businesses. Installing a small network with SBS does take an element of skill and also experience to get it right. Also potential customers can sometimes ask for examples of previous networks you have supported which will zero, this wont fill them with confidence!

    Like I said, get the business going by supporting home users and then build from there.

    Best of luck! :biggrin
     
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010
  5. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    To be honest, most customers don't know that IT certifications even exist. If you say, "Hey! Our techs are A+ certified!", most of them will just say, "Okay... what's that mean?"

    That said, saying you're A+ certified is better than nothing. :)
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  6. Maruchino

    Maruchino Bit Poster

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    Thanks for the suggestion of progression Boyce.

    Modey, that hadn't even entered my thinking, but that's an interesting idea!

    Sparky, the business model is flexible in it's approach - so we won't be held down if one approach isn't quite working out. Also it's important to remember most business contracts aren't to do with installing new networks necessarily, but in the upkeep of existing systems and user-generated problems. It would of course be nice to install a network from scratch, even if it's just for the sake of our bottom line :biggrin

    That's what I was trying to get at BosonMichael. I guess it's worth doing if it doesn't cost a lot (money/time) and there will always be the odd customer who will know what qualifications are desired for certain jobs.

    The comments are much appreciated!
     
  7. Sparky
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    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    Fair play, so how much experience do you have in regard to doing this? Furthermore somebody will be responsible for doing this already so need to be a better alternative to what is in place already.

    I’ve installed a couple of networks from scratch as they were new start businesses so the opportunity can be there.

    I’m not having a go at your idea, when you start to deal with businesses then it is massive step up from repairing PCs for home users so you have to be prepared. 8)
     
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010
  8. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Who are your customers and what is the scope of your services? If you plan to just offer services to home and small business customers, the skill sets mapping to the A+, Network+, and MCDST certifications should do nicely. Notice that I didn't say you had to go out and sit these exams, just acquire the skill sets they represent. As Michael said, most of your customers on this level won't have a clue about professional IT certifications and what they mean. It would be different if you wanted your business to be a "certified Microsoft partner" or a "certified Cisco partner" but that's probably not a good route for a business just getting out of the gates.

    The MCSE would be deffo overkill unless you know that your customers are going to be medium to enterprise-level companies and you'll have to support data center and domain infrastructures. Some server support knowledge will likely be necessary depending on the sort of set up some of your business customers will have, but in the SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) arena, if you're dealing with more than one server, it'll be very unusual.

    I worked as a tech for awhile for a small wireless company that also did general computer and networking support. The general tasks I found myself doing were as follows:
    • Cleaning viruses and malware off of desktops and laptops.
    • Creating and maintaining small LANs, WLANs, and hybrid (LAN and WLAN combinations) networks (this included network design which was really fun).
    • Installing and maintaining PCs including upgrading hardware (RAM usually) software, and optimizing performance (defrags and other basic tasks).
    That's the short list but as you can probably see, there are a number of skill sets that are required to perform these tasks. Many of them are covered by the skills represented by the certifications I've already mentioned. The one class of certs not specifically mentioned that need to be addressed are wireless networking certs. Again, you don't have to go out and get the certifications, but since WLANs are extremely common anymore, you'll need to know how to design, construct, test, and secure a wireless LAN.

    Now, at least in the US, 50% of new businesses completely tank within the first year so don't be surprised if, no matter how good you are, you don't make it. If you are successful, plan on giving up a personal life for the first 1 to 3 years. I have a friend in California who started his own business a few years back and he is still buried with work. He's finally gotten to the point where he has hired some help, but he has virtually no spare time at all, not even for his family.

    Running your own business is more than putting an ad in the paper and then responding to customers. You have to not only know technology, you have to know the business end of things, too. That includes accounting, business taxes, and a whole bunch of other money and legal issues you may or may not have yet considered. Even being a freelancer such as myself can be a pain in the butt on occasion. In many ways, I much profer working for someone else and letting them worry about all of that business stuff while I can just concentrate on my job.

    I wish you luck in your pursuits but before you get to the point of no return, make sure you've done *all* of your research and truly know what you're getting yourself into. Cheers. :)

    -Trip
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  9. Alex Wright

    Alex Wright Megabyte Poster

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    Very, very good advice indeed. Rep given. :)
     
    Certifications: 70-680 Configuring Windows 7
    WIP: 70-642
  10. MrNerdy

    MrNerdy Megabyte Poster

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    The downside is that a lot a small PC shops go to the wall within 2 years.
    Offer the things that most shops dont want to do like the small jobs.
    Offer a good service & above all be honest will your advice.

    Oh and Good luck with your plans.
     
    Certifications: ECDL, CiscoIT1 & A+
    WIP: Girlfriend & Network+
  11. The_Geek

    The_Geek Megabyte Poster

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    Supporting Linux would be a huge asset also.

    (sorry, couldn't resist)
     
    Certifications: CompTIA and Micro$oft
    WIP: PDI+
  12. JonGlory

    JonGlory Byte Poster

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    Would look at small business server, (i think there is a cert for it, haven't looked but I'm sure there is) My last job supported loads of small business (10-50) employees, The majority of work concerned, small business server and ADSL/cable installations.

    Nothing to taxing apart from exchange, but still job satisfaction.
     
    WIP: LIFE
  13. Maruchino

    Maruchino Bit Poster

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    Perhaps not the best time to reply, after a fair few celebratory drinks following the Giants superb win - but what the hell here goes.

    Sparky: Well that's where our business model is aggressive. We aim to take some of the business contracts already in place. I have a fair few contacts with companies who are not at all pleased with their current support contract and would welcome a change - or at least welcome competition in that sector. My experience is limited to what I have done in the classroom, and some private jobs. But you have to start somewhere, right? We won't kid ourselves by thinking acquiring business contracts will be a cakewalk.

    tripwire45: Our customers come from a wide range of backgrounds. I live in a small town (the town we will most likely set up in) and the demographic ranges from low income to reasonably high income families. 99% of business within a 10 mile radius is service sector and range from small to medium in size. However we have some scope, and this is where our expansion possibilities come in to play. The town is a little under 40k population in size, but connected to a town of over 200k - so this opens up the business side of things as there is far more contracts to be won. We are also a few junctions away from London, and obviously that is another growth area should we manage to grow to a reasonable size. With a new motorway connection directly to our town, this will speed up delivery of solutions no end. Being so close to London also opens up the possibility to support clients with servers located in data centres. I have a small amount of experience working in and around such environments - so I am almost clued up on what we could offer in that respect.

    I appreciate you saying the MCSE is overkill, as that is the kind of advice I was looking for. With time at a premium and money at even more of a premium, the MCSE would perhaps be more of a burden in our early years.

    Wireless certs are something of importance in the growing wireless world I agree. We are fully aware of the failure rate of small business', especially in the town we aim to operate in. Luckily we are two young guys who have much time and little responsibilities to worry about. We aren't used to a comfortable lifestyle of eating out regularly, big houses, nice cars and such - so we won't miss any of the creature comforts many professionals are used to. We aren't involved in relationships, have no dependants and no other mortgage or loan commitments.

    We won't worry too much for the red-tape and legal side of things. That's something we're very confident about, because of previous experience in business (myself a couple of years back) and our lengthy research into these areas. As a keen investor in financial markets, understanding money and the financial documents such as profit/loss and balance sheets shouldn't be too troublesome.

    Thanks for taking the time and effort in writing such a lengthy response, it is much appreciated and has given me several things to write in my notebook!

    MrNerdy: have you read our business plan somehow?! You mentioned at least two major points that we have down on paper.

    The_Geek: I have had a fair amount of exposure to linux (server end anyway), so that's something I look forward to working on in the future.

    JonGlory: I guess plenty of market research is in order to ascertain just quite what our fellow small businesses will require from us.
     
  14. Maruchino

    Maruchino Bit Poster

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    Booked my A+ 601 for the 14th of March. At my current rate of learning I may also book the 602 for the same date, but I'll see how I'm getting on in a week or so.

    Thanks for all the advice and comments on this thread, it has been appreciated.
     
  15. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Good luck on the exam. :)
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  16. greenbrucelee
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    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

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    Good luck with the exams and the business.

    A friend of mine tried to set up a computer repair business but had to close it as there was just no money in it and he was working from his parents house, he also tried selling computer games but he said it was even worse for profitts.

    Make sure you are going to have the business or it wont work. Good Luck :D
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, Security+, 70-270
    WIP: 70-620 or 70-680?
  17. damo101

    damo101 Byte Poster

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    Instead of doing what most other businesses do why not focus slightly different qualifications and ones that customers might understand. Most people with windows or OS issues will call the manufacturer (unless they built the pc themselves, in which case they prob know how to fix it). So getting a cert from IBM to show your qualified to repair their laptops might be more meaningful to someone walking past your shop than a MCP

    The things manufacturers won't touch are out of warranty repairs - laptops screens especially - are probably going to generate more business, and as manufacturers don't do it (therefore less competition) there's more money to be made out of it. Data recovery might be another money spinner - not the forensic type stuff (but no reason why you couldn't outsource it to someone who has all the super dooper kit for it).

    best of luck anyways with it all,

    Damo
     
    Certifications: ITIL Foundation and Practitioner (S&R)
    WIP: OU Cert in Web Design
  18. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Hm? Dell will gladly replace your laptop screen out-of-warranty... but they'll charge a hefty sum for it.

    You could theoretically buy up good LCDs from bad laptops and use them as replacement parts... and you'd be cheaper than the manufacturers. But is there enough money to be made off of it, and could you guarantee a good turnaround time for a screen repair if you don't have the replacement LCD readily available (if it's available at all)? Just things to consider. It could work... just want to give you food for your brain to chew on.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!

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