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.