Teen starting his own business

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Intel Inside, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. Intel Inside, Apr 15, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011

    Intel Inside macrumors 6502

    Sep 19, 2008
    Hi everyone, before i get started, i'll say this isn't some sort of advertisement or spam!

    I'm a 15 year old teenager living in the UK, and i want to make myself a little more money to save and spend on nice things :D

    I have a few ideas and concerns about these ideas:-

    -Computer upgrade/repair/custom build service- I am very able in this area having put together computers and tinker with their insides. I know my way around hardware pretty well, a little less on the software side. I think that a computer upgrade/repair/custom build business could be very profitable, but my main concern is that, would an adult trust a (responsible & mature) teen to fix their computer?

    -My other idea is to start a web design company- I am also able in this area, with experience with CS5 (including dreamweaver) and graphic design. I know html and css well and about ftp, but other than that, i am clueless, so this one might include a little learning before i get started. Also there are plenty of other people on the internet doing this with a wealth of experience over me.

    -Just had this idea after posting, a graphic design service.- I am very capable in this area (for a 15 year old) I have taken a graphics GCSE course at my school, which i finish in June. I have also done a lot of study in this area, basically with my own library of books on design. but there is the same problem that there is with the web design idea. I am a very small fish in a very big pond.

    What do you guys think is a better idea to persure?

    Also does anyone have any tips, or anything i should be aware of before i start on my entrepreneurial adventures?

    Thanks a bunch!! :D
  2. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
    Go for web design. It is more rewarding, and more manageable than a PC repair service (you might not be able to repair many of the PCs, where as you'll be able to produce a website of some sort for your client).

    Trouble with doing a PC repair service is there will always be some people who will try to scam you, and end up taking you to court because they insisted that their PC had a Core i7 in it, and when you returned it to them, it only has a Pentium 4 in it.
  3. 482214 macrumors 6502

    Aug 17, 2010
    Without trying to upset you I don't think many real business decision makers would entrust a 15 year old with such an important aspect.

    Perhaps you could cater for family, friends and smaller projects local to you.

    don't spend money setting yourself up only to find you can't really make any real income from it...
  4. scottgroovez macrumors regular

    May 20, 2010
    Have a look at affiliate websites. You'll need to bag some good domain names, but if you create good SEO websites you're half way there.
  5. ECUpirate44 macrumors 603


    Mar 22, 2010
    I agree with this. Start small with family and friends to get your name out. Once people learn that you have a good reputation, they will be more willing to trust you.
  6. r1ch4rd macrumors 6502a


    Aug 5, 2005
    Manchester UK
    Out of those options, I think that setting up a PC repair business is the way to go.

    For PC repair you will struggle to build up a good reputation quickly as a teenager working out of their house (once you can drive you could do house visits). Most people are going to take their computers into a shop with a reputable name to have them repaired. However, I think this is the simplest of your three ideas to implement, you just have to get over this initial hurdle.

    I would start small and build up a set of fixed jobs that you can perform. Say, charge £10 to install Windows. £20 to install a new hard disk. etc. This keeps things nice and simple. Look around to see what others are charging. You won't have many overheads, so you can probably undercut most businesses.

    Next, find friends and family members who need these jobs doing and do a good job. If things don't start well, your friends and family won't be too hard on you either! Hopefully word of mouth with kick in here and you will pick up more customers as they recommend you. This will give slow but manageable growth and you can do all of this in your spare time.

    Graphic design and web design are going to open up a whole can of worms. There is more to offering a good service in these areas than just churning out websites and logos. It is very easy to get yourself in a mess and end up being taken for a ride by your customers. I suspect in this arena, you may struggle more with the business side.

    You are also going to find that you have a different customer base here. It's very rare that an individual requires some graphic design or web design. These customers will be more business savvy.

    You may struggle with some of the business aspects around defining the scope of a project and subsequent change control. You may also have problems around how you accept client requirements and agree solutions based around them. How are you going to set up your charging model (fixed price or time and materials?). How will you provide ongoing support and maintenance (you would probably choose not to)?

    Let me give you an example of where you are going to need more skills than just web development. I work in IT consultancy and this is the sort of thing I see all the time.

    A customer comes to you to build a simple shop to let them sell some T-Shirts online. They have all of the pages drawn out in their sketch pad exactly how they want them. Absolutely everything is defined and incredibly clear. You agree a fee and the work goes ahead. You get to the end and you've done exactly what was asked and the site works exactly as requested. Unfortunately, the customer doesn't like it. They find it clunky and difficult to use. They want it re-doing and they don't want to pay for the extra work.

    How are you going to deal with that? If you refuse to do further work then your reputation takes a hit. If you agree to make the changes for free then you lose out on time which you could spend on other jobs and money which you should be earning. Even if you can agree a deal with the client you lose. Now their project is over budget and you may have run out of time. Where I work we usually take the third option, but it should never have got to this point in the first place.

    You could blame this on the client - they should have thought about their design more carefully. I would blame myself. The client designs T-Shirts for a living, not websites. They are paying you because they need an expert to help them out. The correct way to handle this would be to not accept the clients specification. They have come to you with a solution, what they should come to you with is a requirement. It's up to you to get out of the client what they really want. It's going to be very rare that a client ever tells you what that is straight away. For some reason they want to provide a solution every time.

    Let's say that in this case, the requirement is that the customer wants a shop that they can sell their T-Shirts through and it needs to accept international orders. That's fine. You can work from there to build up a solution which you document before you start. You work through it with the client and agree the scope from there. It's this consultancy aspect that clients want. Anyone can take their drawings and knock up a website, an expert understands their requirements and builds an appropriate solution based on their expertise. Hopefully this time they get what they want (you can make orders for T-Shirts) and you aren't constrained by their design, so it works well.

    Now, you may not have such demanding customers or any high pressure work as you get started out. However, my real point is that if you are going to start a business, try to consider all of the skills you will need. The people who I work with who are really good aren't those with the technical skills. They have the project management and client management skills. They know how to build good relationships and how to get through all the rubbish to get to the root of the problem.

    I may be rambling on here a little, but I think you are going to thrive more with a simple business model around repairing computer problems for a fixed cost than dealing with the type of projects you will have in the graphic and web design arena.


    I agree with this. Go with the computer repair and start small. You are more likely to have friends and family who need this service.
  7. AJ.G macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2010
    Being in a similar boat, i can offer you some advice.
    Im fourteen, and i started printing and selling my own shirts with my own designs.
    Now whilst my more hands-on project may require more planning and thinking through, i still think its safe to say that you should definitely take your time. Make sure you've got everything set up, and you're ready to come across any problems.
    I think thats the most important thing, also, start small. Don't overwhelm yourself.
    Thats all i have to say from personal experience;)
  8. zioxide macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2006
    I wasn't going to quote your whole post, but it's spot on. No offense to the OP, but the reasons you listed are exactly why web/graphic design won't work out for him yet. It definitely could in a few years, but he needs to take some classes in business and have a little real world experience.
  9. r1ch4rd macrumors 6502a


    Aug 5, 2005
    Manchester UK
    Absolutely. OP - give it a few years, go to college, do some work in the industry and then go for it.

    For a summer job to earn some cash, who needs the hassle? You've got plenty of years ahead of you to set up a successful business. For now you need to have some fun! Trust me, you're not going to have fun if you have to think too much about your business. Keep it simple!

    You can look back on my example and reprimand me for not practicing what I preach in this thread. In the same way as with our awkward customer, I think we need to get back to basics and work out what you need.

    What are you hobbies and what do you enjoy doing? How much money are you looking to earn and how much time do you want to put in? Let us know a little information about who you are and where you live. If we know these things, it might be easier to recommend something. Perhaps even something you hadn't thought of!
  10. 184550 Guest

    May 8, 2008
    FWIW, you would also be able to build a portfolio of your work which could come in handy if you plan on pursuing this at the University-level.


    I know I wouldn't unless it was a family member and the price was dirt cheap and it wasn't for something really important to me.

    If it something that you're truly interested in, I would aim to do it more as a side project thing until you develop a solid reputation and portfolio.

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