Seven years ago the company I was working for fell apart. About an hour later I had Lanterns Light LLC started at least onp aper. This company was started as a lifeboat, I was getting married in February, the bills needed to get paid, I thought let me get something going till I found a job. Seven years later and I am still doing this and I really don’t want to do anything else. So I thought I would share what I have learned in 7 years of running the most agile computer company I think you will ever see.
Yes you do need your own domain.
When I started out I used my g-mail account for everything and it worked with the people I knew already and family. However I found that when I started looking for new clients that when they saw my g-mail address they cooled down a bit. You see the biggest advantage of a g-mail/outlook.com/yahoo.com account is it’s disadvantage, they are free. So any Bob, Jack, or Paul could create an email address in 5 minutes that looks like yours.
Bigger is not better
I started Lanterns Light LLC, in the worst economy since the great depression. The reason it worked is because I stayed small. I picked up many clients because much of my larger competitors fell victim to the economy. They were top heavy with too much overhead, (rent, power, payroll, fleet vehicles) to sustain when money got tight. I was mostly working from my home, and my other offices (see You got an office thats great I got 5.html), my car was paid for, I was able to re-use allot of what I already had, and I was my only employee.
Also many of my newer clients were happy to be talking to “the owner” of the company (me) instead of a field tech that they may never see again. This meant I could build a relationship with the client many I still have.
You are going to need accounting software
Like my email account, I was using software to manage my personal accounts, Quicken home and business and it worked when I started my company. It was fairly easy to create invoices and I was able to download transactions from my bank. However my accountant (Yes you need one of those too) kept pushing me to Quick books. Which took some getting use to. What ever your company does your going to need a way to create invoices, track expenses, and track your clients. Also you are going to need some help setting up the accounts you will need.
You are going to need a computer (A real one)
phone. But when it comes down to it you are going to need something to run real software, something with a real keyboard and something that can hold more then a few GB worth of data.
No you don’t need a Fax
I think I have had to fax something twice in the last 7 years. Both times it was because my father needed to send something and he didn’t have an email address. Scanning and emailing does exactly the same job, and it creates a file you can archive and backup, letting you getting rid of the bulky document.
In fact you really don’t need paper.
I have had a small malfunction printer for a few years now. I don’t print anything. Its mostly there for the scanning and for my wife to print coupons to it. Every once in a great while I will have a client that wants a hard copy of an invoice or something that they can mark up. 7 years and I think I have used maybe 1 1/2 reams of paper.
You don’t have days off
Being an owner is a 24/7 job. You wake up and you wonder about what’s in the accounts, how is your FB marketing doing? Who should I reach out to today? do I have enough cable for Thursday? Did I send out the invoices? I have these and about 40 other questions between my bed and the coffee maker first thing in the morning. This was not too big a change for me, since I worked in the service industry for a long time growing up. To me a holiday or a weekend was just a day that tips were a little better.
You are going to hate your mailbox
No I am not talking about your email, I love my email its where I hit a button and the useless and the spam are sent to digital oblivion. Where I have filters to keep junk mail to a minimum. No I am talking about that box out in front of your office that United States Post office insist you have, and every day I dream about taking it out with my car. If you have ever wanted more Junk mail, start a business. Vendor catalogs, Credit card offers, subscriptions to “trades” that I had never heard of. The only saving grace, every now and again a client sends a check.
You are going to need to build relationships within your industry.
They’re not your competition, they are your new clients. I have subcontracted work for many of the other computer repair companies in the area. Also NEVER bad mouth others. When you do that you are not elevating yourself; you are just devaluing your industry and making yourself look petty.
I am not a business expert. Even after 7 years I am still learning. I have worked with some incredible
people. I have gotten really lucky and I have seen so many other business that I have picked up a few things along the way. Lanterns Light LLC is here to help you with both your business, residential, or home business needs.