Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New Consultant? How Do You Make Money as a Computer Consultant in 2013?

As the recession drags on (or maybe it's coming to an end ... I'm tired of saying that month after month), lots of people are finishing school and trying to decide what to do next.

Well, if you're just going out in the world and think you might try your hand as a computer consultant, let me give you a few tips. Note: You might not want to hear some of this.

First, if you have no training and no professional experience, go get training! This industry has too many "trunk slammers" who literally run their business out of the back of their car. It is bad for everyone to have amateurs in the business.

I don't mean to insulting. I want to encourage you to be in the business. But do it the right way: Educate yourself. EARN the kind of money you should be making. Many newbies charge stupid-low prices, like $25/hr or $50/hr.

With a core competency in Windows or Mac operating system, you should be able to charge at least $75-100 per hour. When you can manage servers and networks, then it's more like $125-150 per hour.

For the rest of your life, nothing has greater effect on your income than education. Don't waste time with on-the-job training. Do it right. If you are getting into the business because you're getting out of a technical school, that's perfect!

Second, once you have training, look professional. That means you need to handle your personal branding. Get business cards that are not cheesy. See my tips on creating good business cards. Get a decent logo that's not too complicated and is easy to spot.

Also in the category of personal branding is your personal dress code. Watch this blog for my tips on dress code this Friday (three days from now). But the bottom line message is this: Dress like you're a professional. Look like you're worth $150/hr!

Third, you need the right tools. These include tools to run your business and tools to deliver services. If you have never worked with a professional consulting company, you may not have experience with service ticketing systems or professional business administration tools.

It takes some effort to educate yourself about the tools you need to run a professional I.T. business. The best ways to do this are to attend conferences, join IT Pro groups, and subscribe to industry magazines. This combination will get you connected to the people and companies you need. From there you can explore the tools available and make good decisions.

Fourth, you need a business model that works. This is where MOST business go wrong. Not just I.T. businesses, but all businesses. People get into business doing what they do (in your case, configuring computers and networks). They don't intentionally build a business model: Instead, their operation simply evolves over time.

There is nothing more important to your success than a good business model.

I highly recommend you adopt a Managed Service business model. That means:

- You provide regular maintenance

- You get paid in advance every month

- You do as much work remotely as possible

- You sign service agreements with all clients

- You use specialized tools to deliver "next level" service at a much lower cost

The advantages to your client are:

- Predictable computer maintenance expenses

- Money savings due to many things, primarily advanced planning and coordinated work

- Faster service

- Less downtime

- More efficient machines/networks at every level

- and More ...

The advantages to you are:

- You get paid in advance for everything . . . NO accounts receivable

- You get almost-guaranteed income

- You don't have to guess how you'll pay your bills every month because you have recurring revenue

- You can manage many more clients with fewer employees

- and More ...

Here are two videos I'd like you to enjoy. First, a little promo for my $24.95 best-seller on building a modern computer consulting business: Managed Services in a Month.

It's fun. Enjoy.

Next, here's some information on a great Virtual conference where you can really get the ball rolling. It's the SMB Online Conference 2013:

Send me your questions!

- karlp

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