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Starting a Business

By XtR-X · 14 replies
Jun 30, 2003
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  1. Hey all, as some of you may all know, I'm 16 years old.

    However, I want to start an online computer business of some sort and work by myself, I don't want a shop or anything but maybe a seperate phone line in my house.

    I want to make custom PCs, I will order everything from NewEgg overnight shipping :D

    Now that you guys know that, how exactly do I get this done?

    I imagine a I have to be on my parent's name first, right? Especially for payments?

    Like I said, I don't want a shop or anything but possibly a seperate phone line or order a new cell phone with tons of minutes.

    Thanks! All suggestions/comments greatly accepted!
  2. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    I don't mean to discourage you.. But I speak from personal experience. It takes money to make money, and to make any successful seller site like this, you need tons of cash!

    Before I say these things, I want you to know I support you chasing this endeavor. But I would like to make sure you recognize some of the common hurtles you'll have to jump over to get this thing off of the ground.

    Firstly... Overnight? Please! That's an additional 200-300 bucks on top of the already high-cost of consumer parts. If you can't get wholesaler rates (You will need to buy quantities, have a resellers license and pay business taxes), then building a PC is going to be pretty expensive and you will have to pass this expense to the consumer.

    It seems the only way to hook buyers into buying non-branded, unwarrantied computers is by making your price irresistably low... Which you will not be able to do without a seller's permit.

    The killer here is that most people care about warranty and brand name - Niether of which you will have. Why should the average Joe be compelled to buy a no-name system when they can go to Fry's or CompUSA and get something for less than $400 bucks? http://shop4.outpost.com/product/3670225/

    I know.. I know.. Store-bought computers are crap. But the average consumer does not agree with this and you'll have a tough time convincing them otherwise. This will be your largest hurtle.

    Tech support? Warranties? These things cost money and time, neither of which you will have if you sell PCs online at reasonable prices. If you sell them too high, then you won't make money at all because no one will buy them. If you make them too low, then you will not be able to keep your operation profitable. A warranty or guarantee will be nearly impossible for you to maintain.. Can you just imagine replacing a part or perhaps a whole computer on a $1500 machine? It comes right out of your pocket!

    The only real market for PC sales of this type is building something exceptional.. Something unique. Or something REALLY cheap. Just another cookie-cutter computer won't cut it.

    Basically, after purchasing non-wholesale parts, maintaining warranties / support, shipping, taxes, cost of legitimate software, site upkeep, secure site fees and advertising.. You will have to charge people twice as much as it costs to build it JUST to get enough money to buy dinner for yourself. ;)

    It's a noble idea.. It really is. I've had a simliar one. Online sales are not the way to go though. Everyone is looking for a stellar deal on the Internet.. Try selling locally from your home.. It works much better, but you are going to have to very crafty and dedicated to make it work at all. It takes a lot of effort, but I wish you luck in getting it all together.

    I have been through a number of money making schemes, but none of them have been wildly sucessful. My current one is selling external hard drives. It has proven promising, but I've yet to get it off of the ground quite yet.
  3. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    Also, you have to realize you do not know enough about building computers to start a business. If you are here asking questions then you have a long way to go before starting a business doing it. I know that may sound harsh but I am telling you the truth. One screw up could cost you enough money that, even if you were to make say $600 on a PC that you sell, that one screw up could cause you to lose money just because you dont know enough about what you are doing. Then what if you have no idea what you did wrong to the persons PC? That's longer that they have to wait when your already losing money, and they will probably say "you know what I'm going somewhere else your too slow" and then you lose even more money.

    I would like to also do the same thing one day, and I believe I am good enough at it to do it well, but the fact is I dont know that much -- we ALL have a LOT to learn no matter who we are -- even Bill Gates doesn't know everything -- obviously because his OS can sometimes be a P.O.S. We all have SO much to learn, I dont care who you are you have MUCH to learn. I've seen sooo many companies come and go building PC's that sucked at it badly in the first place and knew at least a decent amount about what they were doing. This kind of job isnt an easy one. I personally hate all companies that build PC's because they all fail at it miserably. I've not seen one company do it right. This goes for Dell, Gateway, ESPECIALLY Packard Bell, Compaq/HP, etc., and including local companies in the area that were around for a year to a few years and then just faded away out of existance.
    I also do not like these people personally because they are always cocky, and think they know it all when they really dont know anything most of the time.

    So, in my opinion, this is my 2 cents. Do yourself a favor and learn more about what you are doing, save yourself from the dirty remarks and looks from other PC techies, and don't do it.

    Not to say don't ever do it, but once you know a lot more about it and understand what your getting into, then you might be alright to go ahead and do it.

    Just dont expect to make any money because the truth of it is, if you do, you might may $20 on your first PC if any money. You might make $200, who knows, but DO NOT expect to get rich or let this fund your life because it wont happen. If you want to be good at it, learn more, learn about marketing, learn about running a business, and develop your own unique strategy. Then you can make some decent money, but you might have to move somewhere else other than where you live to do it. Most people do.
  4. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    Why not offer your services in helping others build their PCs using components that they supply. You can do home visits and charge for your help. Once the job is done, the user will know more about PCs themselves (you teach them as you're doing the work) and you will walk away with a clean tax-free profit (initially at least) and no comebacks. That's something I was considering doing myself, but not sure if it is viable just yet.
  5. MYOB

    MYOB TS Rookie Posts: 492

    I can tell you from experience, you will not make money from doing it as a full time business, especially if your state has sales tax laws as bad as Ireland's, but if you just let it be known locally that you can build/sort-of maintain PC's (assuming your town is big and full of dumb people like mine is), you could make *some* money. But leave building PC's the way you are planning to the bigger OEM's, or until you have at least a fair few thousand available to cover parts, screw-ups, etc...

    Oh, and try to act like the customer at least actually knows something, just carefully correct them if they are wildly wrong, like the person thinking that installing Windows XP would make his 100Mhz PC go up in actual clock speed.... They really, really, really hate over cocky people, especially if that person doesn't know too much themselves (like me).
  6. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    I can tell you that starting off, you want to start off small (smaller that what your plans are to do). Working for a local ISP I have slowly started to build a "customer base" of people that call me and ask me questions or get me to do things for them. A guy came in one day and told us he was looking for someone that knows something about computers and would pay me $50 *JUST* to show him how to scan pictures and get rid of some icons on his desktop. All I did that day for him was go to his house later after work, walk him through the scanning process and write it down, have him try it from the directions then remove the icons that he wanted deleted, and I made sure he knew how to do these things himself after I left. It took me at the MOST 30 minutes and I made $50. Tax free, easy money. I left $50 richer.
    If you think about it, I kind of was making $100/hour in a way.

    This is the kind of thing you want to start off doing, and build a customer base, in the process learning more about what your doing and how to treat customers and in the process give them more than a service but a learning experience.

    You would be suprised how well this kind of strategy would work.
  7. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 863

    "However, I want to start an online computer business of some sort and work by myself, I don't want a shop or anything but maybe a seperate phone line in my house."

    I don't want anything huge or anything, I still need to go to school and such. It could be a side job, there's no hours, just put it together on free time.

    I just brought this up because recently I sold my services building my 3rd system, another Athlon XP system, I formmated and installed OS and drivers, etc. Walked away with about $200 profit and they thought I was losing money.

    Oh yeah, all those questions I asked about my new comp in that very long topic were to hopefully reduce prices and double check on most things, I even got away with a little I never knew before.

    You guys sort of mis-understood, I don't want anything big, I want to start off small, very small. Like my friend just nagged that his computer sucked and had to buy a new one today on Counter-Strike, I poped up and told him I could do this, and his mom wants to meet with me tomorrow at 7PM.

    Also, building and maintaining a big website with secure shopping, etc., is very easy to me. I've mastered HTML and am going very well with PHP and MySQL, and on top of that, I've been making sites for 4 years! Since I was 12! If you're still not satisfied, I'm currently working on a new website for California National Bank, I signed up over there with an account and me and the owner got carried away, hehe. You can expect to see some new modifications to this site very later on, though, I don't know the domain yet, I just put work on a CD and they do a few edits and put content and upload.

    I've had very numerous sites that I owned drawing in TONS of traffic, alot of gaming sites, and have made numerous web sites for people, including friends, neighbors, family, and friend's friends.

    I'm 16 and that's how good I am. :D

    I still need lots of suggestions because I seriously am considering comp building.

    Oh yeah, standard overnight, from Newegg, is approximately 70 dollars for about 40 pounds. I guess I can knock it down to 2 night for about 15. (Newegg is 2 hours away from me).
  8. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    Ah, ok I see what your saying. Just makin sure your not getting too big for your pants ;)

    If its a side job type thing your talking about doing when your services are needed then I say keep doing it and charge for it. Just dont charge more than people would pay for it pre-built by Dell or some other company. You dont have the warrantys and stuff know what I mean? :p

    As far as selling online, thats prolly not a good idea but I dunno. You might be alright. I guess we will have to see. Just dont get yourself into any trouble :).
  9. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 863

    For starters, I'm buying a domain and posting everything I have to offer and make some business cards. Friends need a comp... I pop em a business card with the website and they check out what they want, they could drop me a line online, or meet back with me in person with what they want. That's just for starters.

    Instead of shipping, I could deliver it to them, that's because most likely they will live no more than an hour away from me because I bust out the business cards locally.

    As my little side business grows bigger, I could probably take care of online orders and shipping them somewhere, though, thats a very long way I assume.

    However, I may have a chance, my stepdad is like what I like to call a "crazy" business man, he owns a company and know alot about marketing and stuff. I haven't gone to him for advice yet, I don't want to sound like an ***** when I propose.
  10. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    I believe this is doable if you sell locally... I do this myself.

    You'll need to get things together before you can sell online to millions of potential customers though.
  11. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 863

    I know... I've got to start out pretty small... but the point of my web experience was to show how easy I could make a good nice looking profitable site. :grinthumb
  12. MYOB

    MYOB TS Rookie Posts: 492

    watch out for sales tax, seriously...

    over here, if you stay below 30K in sales, you pay the sales tax on your components and not the customers, but if you go over that, your looking at 5-6 hours a week of VAT hell working out stuff...

    Dunno what the rules are in the states, but just be damn careful... VAT people can be NASTY...
  13. young&wild

    young&wild TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 993

    I reckon that it will be best if you do part-time job at a local computer shop selling custom made PCs, that way you will learn a lot of things while you work. You really need a hell lot of experience before you even attempt to start this kind of Business. You might want to start saving now, business needs a capital to start and run. No money = No business.
  14. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 863

    I'm not looking to start anything big or official for another 10 years at the most. I'm 16, I'm a junior in High School and I've still got to go to college.

    Oh, but the good thing is, is that I signed up for a computer repair/computer building class. I might be able to learn a few things I never knew.
  15. Smartmike

    Smartmike TS Rookie Posts: 49

    Your not the only one

    I'm turning 16 next month. I've read many business books and that’s my motivation. I never got discouraged when someone said "no" or "you can’t do it". Only 2% of the population make it big by ignoring the other 98%. I sold my first computer before I even built it. This is my story of how I started. I was broke I had not even a penny. But I was still looking of a way to make money and it wasn't by working at Publix. I saw a deal on tigerdirect.com. It was a bare bone kit for 170. I added a light scribe for $40. It came out to be $230 with every thing including shipping. I didn't have the money so I borrowed 230 dollars from my good friend. He knew I was serious and gladly handed me the cash. I told people at my dad's job I was selling a computer for $500. Some one bought it immediately. It was like bums fighting for loose change. I gave my friend back his money with an extra 75 dollars. Now he wants to re invest. I never spent a penny! And I made $200 profit on a computer. Now I buy bulk from tigerdirect and Hong Kong eBay. Don't worry about starting corporations yet. Use your house phone. Make a cash flow of your business to track how you’re doing. Negotiate deals. Think big and triumph. That’s what I did. I recommend you read two books that will change your financial life. Rich dad poor dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Think big and kick... by Donald Trump. I hope this info will help you and good luck with your business.

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