Opportunities to Support Multiple Small Businesses from Home

I was speaking with a 99er who struck on a business idea that seemed plausible that most any industrious tech can do: Support 10-12 small businesses that are close in proximity for a very low rate. This isn’t the kind of network administration of the old days where you build a domain maximizing uptime. Today between XP/Win7 and Server 200x, the platform is relatively stable. The work is not so much running around each to workstation because Word crashed, but helping the small business wade through the vast amounts of options for each technology. The small business now needs advice on backup, compliance, data security, data integrity, remote access, antivirus endpoint protection, patching solutions, not to mention their web presence, search engine optimization, smart phones, etc, etc, etc.

I loved the idea when I heard it and when I read the USA Today article about small business owners being overwhelmed with this very problem; I was convinced that there is a business opportunity here.

Now I’m not suggesting that you perform all of these duties, but you can offer best suggestions based on their needs and their type of business.  The business owner may not even know where to begin on backup, and you know a Google search will take her down a rabbit hole that she doesn’t have the time for. You can bring in the teams that can perform these duties. Once in place you maintain them.

Of course you know Word will crash, and a doc will be lost, and a server will seize, but you’ll be there because you are also on call. The difference from the old days of network support is that the remote access is reliable. If you need to come in, you drive over; It’s as if you’re down the hall. If the ISP goes down, you’re the one who calls them. You then turn around and offer a failover ISP solution, something the business owner may not have even thought of.

You also will come in for a standard two hours a week to walk around and proactively deal with problems that the user may have thought too small to report.  Try to take a meeting with the owner to discuss problems and solutions.

For this you charge $3 an hour. With 10 or 12 business, that’s approximately 60K a year. Again, you are not building their SEO, or website, or buying their smart phones. You are their answer to any tech question they may have. You are their expert at a discount.  When the system fails, you’re the go to guy/gal.

Of course this is all flexible. If you have DBA skills, you can show them ways to better leverage their customer relations management software.  It’s whatever you want it to be.

–Dino Londis 

Comments

42 Responses to “Opportunities to Support Multiple Small Businesses from Home”

October 20, 2010 at 12:04 am, Tim Hanson said:

Very good idea, have been looking at something similar myself, a small group of individauls with different IT experience could leverage one another to expand the knowledge base as well

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October 20, 2010 at 12:04 am, Tim Hanson said:

Very good idea, have been looking at something similar myself, a small group of individauls with different IT experience could leverage one another to expand the knowledge base as well

Reply

October 20, 2010 at 12:18 am, Edgar Enaje said:

I am interested on this idea. How do you go about this?

Thank you.

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October 20, 2010 at 12:18 am, Edgar Enaje said:

I am interested on this idea. How do you go about this?

Thank you.

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October 21, 2010 at 7:33 am, Cliff said:

Tech support of small companies is a terrible business. I know this from much painful experience. The clients are cheap, rude, over-demanding, and never pay on time. The reason they are cheap is obvious; small businesses are very scrappy and have to save money wherever possible. The reason that they are rude, over-demanding, and never pay on time is due to the fact that most small business owners are people who couldn’t cut it as employees because of their personalities, nasty attitudes, narcissism, attention deficit disorders, and work habits.

Also, 95% of small business IT work is removing viruses and malware from PCs of employees and recovering lost data from PCs disabled by such malware. This is boring, frustrating and stupid work and you will learn nothing new while doing it.

The business looks appealing because there is high demand and the cost of entry it is very low, but this is very deceptive. Please take my advice and look for something else.

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October 21, 2010 at 7:33 am, Cliff said:

Tech support of small companies is a terrible business. I know this from much painful experience. The clients are cheap, rude, over-demanding, and never pay on time. The reason they are cheap is obvious; small businesses are very scrappy and have to save money wherever possible. The reason that they are rude, over-demanding, and never pay on time is due to the fact that most small business owners are people who couldn’t cut it as employees because of their personalities, nasty attitudes, narcissism, attention deficit disorders, and work habits.

Also, 95% of small business IT work is removing viruses and malware from PCs of employees and recovering lost data from PCs disabled by such malware. This is boring, frustrating and stupid work and you will learn nothing new while doing it.

The business looks appealing because there is high demand and the cost of entry it is very low, but this is very deceptive. Please take my advice and look for something else.

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October 22, 2010 at 4:31 am, Muhammad said:

i am agree with Cliff, Tech support for Small Business is Big pain in B@#!.

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October 22, 2010 at 4:31 am, Muhammad said:

i am agree with Cliff, Tech support for Small Business is Big pain in B@#!.

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October 28, 2010 at 1:04 am, leo said:

Hi Cliff, how does the $60,000 income based on $3/Hr coming from? My calc = $3/hr x 2 hr/week x 52 weeks/year x 12 clients = $3744 / year.
I have been doing some of this type of works and yes, the clients are cheap mostly and the income can only be considered part time.

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October 28, 2010 at 1:04 am, leo said:

Hi Cliff, how does the $60,000 income based on $3/Hr coming from? My calc = $3/hr x 2 hr/week x 52 weeks/year x 12 clients = $3744 / year.
I have been doing some of this type of works and yes, the clients are cheap mostly and the income can only be considered part time.

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October 28, 2010 at 1:41 am, justus said:

after watching last nights Dragons Den, You will draw conclusions, but i do agree with you Cliff, some of us have stupidity engrained within the core of our assholes and definitely unemployable,cheap,negative and the list goes on.as for the tech support,if u r interested in virus removal, then you should invest your time into that..hoping you all have a great day.

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October 28, 2010 at 1:41 am, justus said:

after watching last nights Dragons Den, You will draw conclusions, but i do agree with you Cliff, some of us have stupidity engrained within the core of our assholes and definitely unemployable,cheap,negative and the list goes on.as for the tech support,if u r interested in virus removal, then you should invest your time into that..hoping you all have a great day.

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October 28, 2010 at 3:07 am, Nubian said:

Dino, sounds like a good idea and is a starting point that can be developed into something profitable. As a business owner you have to be selective of the clients you take on and the terms have to be concrete with no gray areas to avoid future headaches. Thanks and keep the ideas coming.

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October 28, 2010 at 3:07 am, Nubian said:

Dino, sounds like a good idea and is a starting point that can be developed into something profitable. As a business owner you have to be selective of the clients you take on and the terms have to be concrete with no gray areas to avoid future headaches. Thanks and keep the ideas coming.

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October 28, 2010 at 6:55 am, James said:

Good innovation. I nned some fincial help to improve my business.

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October 28, 2010 at 6:55 am, James said:

Good innovation. I nned some fincial help to improve my business.

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October 28, 2010 at 8:38 am, bdks said:

The idea is good until their hourly rate.

For this you charge $3 an hour. With 10 or 12 business, that’s approximately 60K a year

That would be over 10 hours a day to make 60K. Apparently they want you to do this work under the table and have never heard of self employment taxes.

Start your own business, charge a rate where your company can make a profit and also pay a decent salary.

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October 28, 2010 at 8:38 am, bdks said:

The idea is good until their hourly rate.

For this you charge $3 an hour. With 10 or 12 business, that’s approximately 60K a year

That would be over 10 hours a day to make 60K. Apparently they want you to do this work under the table and have never heard of self employment taxes.

Start your own business, charge a rate where your company can make a profit and also pay a decent salary.

Reply

October 28, 2010 at 8:57 am, Dino said:

Cliff, I was thinking of companies of 25 – 50 people where they are big enough to pay the bills, but not big enough for an IT dept (guy).

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October 28, 2010 at 8:57 am, Dino said:

Cliff, I was thinking of companies of 25 – 50 people where they are big enough to pay the bills, but not big enough for an IT dept (guy).

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October 28, 2010 at 9:41 am, Josh said:

While I know from some experience that supporting particularly small businesses is a pain, I think they were talking about slightly larger ones. Not just a mom and pop shop with one or two computers. But something larger, like 10+ employees, up to a medium-sized business in the area.

And I think this is great. I have done this kind of work before, but for much larger businesses than would qualify for the term ‘small’ business. Sometimes rewarding, sometimes not, but almost always fun and challenging.

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October 28, 2010 at 9:41 am, Josh said:

While I know from some experience that supporting particularly small businesses is a pain, I think they were talking about slightly larger ones. Not just a mom and pop shop with one or two computers. But something larger, like 10+ employees, up to a medium-sized business in the area.

And I think this is great. I have done this kind of work before, but for much larger businesses than would qualify for the term ‘small’ business. Sometimes rewarding, sometimes not, but almost always fun and challenging.

Reply

October 29, 2010 at 1:59 am, Martin Seebach said:

Small business can be a nightmare if ‘IT guy’ is not on site and/or family ties have a tad of knowledge or just an axe to grind.

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October 29, 2010 at 1:59 am, Martin Seebach said:

Small business can be a nightmare if ‘IT guy’ is not on site and/or family ties have a tad of knowledge or just an axe to grind.

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October 29, 2010 at 9:19 am, Jay said:

I think Mr. Landis is onto something. Will there be those entrepreneurs who are hemorrhoids? Sure. They are everywhere – even in large companies. Does the math work out? Yes. If you are paid by each business as a full-time employee (i.e. $3 per hour X 2080 hours [normal work-year] = $6,240.00 per business X 10 businesses = 62,400.00 gross per year). Obviously, there are taxes, operating expenses, etc., that will come out, but don’t limit yourself to just 10 businesses and don’t just work for the micro businesses (i.e. 1 – 9 computers). Think bigger picture here. Before someone tries to say that you can’t charge someone for not being there, think of it as insurance. You pay for someone to help you in case a catastrophe happens. In this business idea, you may be guaranteeing only 2-hours of “face-time” per week, but you are on-call 24/7 (or whatever you decide will be in the contract). Mr. Landis did a fine job of quickly explaining a business idea, and sparking our imaginations. It’s up to us to determine for whom we will work, and what we will charge. If the contract is created to cover every possible issue, you could have a clause that states that there will be an extra charge for exceeding X-number of viruses per week/month/year. If you figure out that you are being abused, then factor that in when it comes time to re-negotiate the contract. The point is¿ It¿s *your* business. Build it in such a way that you are able to make the customer happy and support your self/family too.

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October 29, 2010 at 9:19 am, Jay said:

I think Mr. Landis is onto something. Will there be those entrepreneurs who are hemorrhoids? Sure. They are everywhere – even in large companies. Does the math work out? Yes. If you are paid by each business as a full-time employee (i.e. $3 per hour X 2080 hours [normal work-year] = $6,240.00 per business X 10 businesses = 62,400.00 gross per year). Obviously, there are taxes, operating expenses, etc., that will come out, but don’t limit yourself to just 10 businesses and don’t just work for the micro businesses (i.e. 1 – 9 computers). Think bigger picture here. Before someone tries to say that you can’t charge someone for not being there, think of it as insurance. You pay for someone to help you in case a catastrophe happens. In this business idea, you may be guaranteeing only 2-hours of “face-time” per week, but you are on-call 24/7 (or whatever you decide will be in the contract). Mr. Landis did a fine job of quickly explaining a business idea, and sparking our imaginations. It’s up to us to determine for whom we will work, and what we will charge. If the contract is created to cover every possible issue, you could have a clause that states that there will be an extra charge for exceeding X-number of viruses per week/month/year. If you figure out that you are being abused, then factor that in when it comes time to re-negotiate the contract. The point is¿ It¿s *your* business. Build it in such a way that you are able to make the customer happy and support your self/family too.

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October 29, 2010 at 9:20 am, Dino said:

Leo,

It’s $3 an hour for the full day, not just the two hours you are on premises.

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October 29, 2010 at 9:20 am, Dino said:

Leo,

It’s $3 an hour for the full day, not just the two hours you are on premises.

Reply

October 30, 2010 at 5:51 am, Bill said:

Good Luck.

Having been in this business for a while I can say that whoever came up with this plan, and whoever thinks it’s a great idea were never in the SMB support biz.

As far as supporting larger companies (25-50) there is an entire industry already in place madly competing for this work. You better bring your A game, have a boatload of capital to last the 2-3 unprofitable years it will take to launch, and have skills in management, tech, and marketing if you hope to compete.

This is kind of like saying “Hey, here’s an idea! There are a lot of hungry people out there who could use a quick lunch for a good price. What if we built a little resturant where they could get a hamburger without even getting out of the car?” Hey – great idea!

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October 30, 2010 at 5:51 am, Bill said:

Good Luck.

Having been in this business for a while I can say that whoever came up with this plan, and whoever thinks it’s a great idea were never in the SMB support biz.

As far as supporting larger companies (25-50) there is an entire industry already in place madly competing for this work. You better bring your A game, have a boatload of capital to last the 2-3 unprofitable years it will take to launch, and have skills in management, tech, and marketing if you hope to compete.

This is kind of like saying “Hey, here’s an idea! There are a lot of hungry people out there who could use a quick lunch for a good price. What if we built a little resturant where they could get a hamburger without even getting out of the car?” Hey – great idea!

Reply

October 30, 2010 at 10:20 am, jbinwc said:

Dino – thanks for the article, I was thinking of this type of business (perhaps after I’m outsourced).

Why not charge an hourly rate like a normal contractor? (plumber, handyman). Perhaps with a monthly retainer for the oncall.

What is a market hourly rate for this kind of work?

thanks, JB

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October 30, 2010 at 10:20 am, jbinwc said:

Dino – thanks for the article, I was thinking of this type of business (perhaps after I’m outsourced).

Why not charge an hourly rate like a normal contractor? (plumber, handyman). Perhaps with a monthly retainer for the oncall.

What is a market hourly rate for this kind of work?

thanks, JB

Reply

November 01, 2010 at 3:01 am, Roy said:

There seems to be several negative minded people responding to this article. If the business owners that you work for (or have worked for) were so limited in their thinking and weren’t willing to overcome their challenges, then they wouldn’t have contributed to you and your family’s livelihood by providing you with employment and would definitely not be in your resume. Remember Henry Ford said that “if you believe you can…you can, if you believe you can’t…you can’t”. Which side of the fence to you fall on? With the path the economy is heading, the kind of thinking that article suggests may become the norm and your future job just may be creating employment instead of finding employment.

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November 01, 2010 at 3:01 am, Roy said:

There seems to be several negative minded people responding to this article. If the business owners that you work for (or have worked for) were so limited in their thinking and weren’t willing to overcome their challenges, then they wouldn’t have contributed to you and your family’s livelihood by providing you with employment and would definitely not be in your resume. Remember Henry Ford said that “if you believe you can…you can, if you believe you can’t…you can’t”. Which side of the fence to you fall on? With the path the economy is heading, the kind of thinking that article suggests may become the norm and your future job just may be creating employment instead of finding employment.

Reply

November 02, 2010 at 11:15 am, Dino said:

jbinwc – Like I said it could be whatever you want it to be. The core of this idea is that you are solving the problem of overwhelming choice, coordinating vendors, and introducing compliance for such things as data integrity.

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November 02, 2010 at 11:15 am, Dino said:

jbinwc – Like I said it could be whatever you want it to be. The core of this idea is that you are solving the problem of overwhelming choice, coordinating vendors, and introducing compliance for such things as data integrity.

Reply

November 03, 2010 at 4:34 am, Kyle said:

Outstanding idea. I’d change the math a bit and change the method a bit too. Let’s say you charge $4 an hour ($695 / month) and then hire someone for $50K a year to do the work. You pocket the extra $33K run this model 10x for a take home of $330K. Obvioiusly it will take a lot of marketing and managment, but could be worth it.

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November 03, 2010 at 4:34 am, Kyle said:

Outstanding idea. I’d change the math a bit and change the method a bit too. Let’s say you charge $4 an hour ($695 / month) and then hire someone for $50K a year to do the work. You pocket the extra $33K run this model 10x for a take home of $330K. Obvioiusly it will take a lot of marketing and managment, but could be worth it.

Reply

November 03, 2010 at 11:25 am, Peter Torres said:

Thank You for your ideas and comments you have restored my enthusiams in what I already have been working in for the past 2 years The only thing I was not doing was the 1 year contract with my SMB clients Thank You

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November 03, 2010 at 11:25 am, Peter Torres said:

Thank You for your ideas and comments you have restored my enthusiams in what I already have been working in for the past 2 years The only thing I was not doing was the 1 year contract with my SMB clients Thank You

Reply

November 09, 2010 at 11:00 am, Blue Condor said:

This has already been implemented and it’s called Consulting.

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November 09, 2010 at 11:00 am, Blue Condor said:

This has already been implemented and it’s called Consulting.

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