Embarking on the journey of establishing a computer repair business is an exciting venture. However, like any business, it requires a clear understanding of the financial investments involved. In this guide, we will explore the diverse costs associated with launching a computer repair business, shedding light on both the essential and potential expenses one might encounter throughout the process.
Table of Content
- Essential Startup Costs
- Inventory and Supplies
- Technical Skills and Education
- Business Operations
- Personnel and Expansion
- Miscellaneous and Contingency
Essential Startup Costs
If you have computer skills, you may open your own repair business, fix people’s computers to make them happy, and take a small piece of this enormous market.
Remember that the cost of computer repair services might reach up to $80 per hour. With a little financial outlay, you may join the fray and operate your repair business from home. As your company expands, you may consider renting a storefront where you would sell and repair computers and other gadgets.
The most accurate method of estimating your startup costs for a firm is to write a business plan. The financial projections component of your strategy should include an estimate of your expected income, profit, and expenses for the following three to five years.
A solid guideline to follow when estimating your startup costs for a business is to budget for six months’ worth of expenses up front. Therefore, wait until at least until that initial phase has passed before expecting your company’s revenue to start reducing your expenses. While you get your feet under you and concentrate on drawing in business, you’ll need a cushion.
Legal and Registration Expenses
One of your first to-dos when setting up a business is to choose a business entity, which has tax, legal, and financial implications.
If you decide to incorporate your business or form a limited liability company, you’ll need to file articles of incorporation or articles of organization, respectively, with your state. The filing fee can range from $50 to as high as $725 depending on the state. However, the fee is under $300 in the majority of states.
Even if you’re not incorporating, you’ll probably need to apply for federal or state licensing or permits. The types of documentation you’ll need will vary based on your industry and location. For example, businesses within the agriculture or aviation sectors require federal licensing. Service-based sectors may need to have trade-specific licenses. And retail companies will likely need sales tax licenses or permits.
Your business needs the same protections you provide to your health, home, and car. There are many different kinds of business insurance, including protection from customers who file a lawsuit against you and disaster insurance for potential fires that can shut down your restaurant for weeks.
The type of insurance your startup needs is entirely dependent on your business, industry, number of employees, and other risk factors. For instance, a sole proprietor running an online business has far fewer insurance requirements than a construction company with several employees.
Here are a few essential forms of insurance you should look into to protect yourself, and policy costs vary according to several different factors:
- General liability insurance: About $400 to $800 per year. Your industry’s risk will be the most significant factor influencing the cost of your policy.
- Commercial property insurance: Anywhere from $300 to $2,500+, depending on the value of the property and its assets, and a risk factor dependent upon the nature of the business and the location of the property.
- Workers compensation insurance: Approximately $0.75 to $2.74 per $100 of payroll, depending on the business’s size, location, payroll, and risk.
- Errors and omissions insurance: Approximately $2,000 to $5,000 per year, depending on your business’s size, industry, location, revenue, legal history, and the quality of your contracts and employee training procedures.
Almost every business will need to finance equipment immediately. Equipment costs for startups can range anywhere from $10,000 to $125,000, depending on the industry and size of the company.
For example, if you’re starting your own moving or shipping company, you’ll need to finance a truck. If you’re opening a restaurant, you’ll need commercial-grade ovens, stoves, dishware, and cooking utensils. If you own a hair salon, you’ll need styling chairs. And nearly any business will require computers.
Of course, these costs range according to your industry and the size of your business. Hiring employees will incur additional costs, as you may need to secure individual equipment, as well.
Paying for an office or retail space will be a sizeable portion of your fixed costs, whether you rent or buy. You might spend between $100 per employee per month up to $1,000 per employee per month — again, it will depend on the type of space you’re using.
You can mitigate these costs if you work from home in the beginning, or look into coworking spaces — both ideal for smaller businesses. And if you own a service-based business, you can travel directly to clients to further decrease overhead costs.
Office furniture and supplies add up fast. If you’re operating in a traditional nine-to-five office environment, then every employee will need a desk, a chair, a computer, and a phone. Add in break room appliances, small office supplies, and computer programs, like your accounting software, and you’ll reach a hefty sum.
Again, that sum varies depending on the tools your business needs to operate, and the number of employees you need to outfit. Nate Masterson, the marketing manager at Maple Holistics, estimates that the total cost for office furniture and supplies would be around $5,000. In all, though, Masterson recommends keeping your furniture and supply costs to approximately 10% of your budget.
In addition to the fixed costs of rent and down payment, you’ll be responsible for paying the electric, gas, water, internet, and phone bills for your office space. According to Iota Communications, the average cost of utilities for commercial buildings is $2.10 per square foot.
If you intend to install HVAC units, that will incur an additional cost — usually a couple of thousand dollars, not including installation fees and upkeep.
Inventory and Supplies
Managing a computer repair company is one of the busiest endeavors that requires attention to numerous responsibilities. The business owner must remain vigilant in order to keep customers pleased and satisfied. This includes monitoring repair orders, making fresh offers to draw in clients, and watching out for things that run out of stock. There is always a corner that falls short of expectations, regardless of the number of workers you hire or how skilled they are.
If you’re in the retail, wholesale, manufacturing, or distribution sector, you’ll likely need to secure inventory to sell, as soon as you possibly can.
Knowing how much inventory to carry can be tricky: If you have too much inventory, you risk spoilage or damage. If you have too little, you risk losing customers who won’t wait for items on backorder. This is especially true for seasonal businesses where inventory can vary drastically year-round.
You should allocate between 17% to 25% of your budget to inventory, depending on your industry. When you’re first starting out, consider securing more inventory. You’ll want to attract customers and generate as much revenue as you can in your company’s early stages.
At the very least, you should keep a set of precision screwdrivers with Phillips head and Torx bits. For working on most Macs, you will also need a three-point screwdriver and pentalobe bits. You can also use the triangle, hex, and flathead for a number of tasks. If your wrist becomes tired, you can find screwdrivers that are manual or ratcheted, as well as electric models.
In most cases, you will not need to spend more than ten or fifteen dollars on a set of manual precision screwdrivers. Though you won’t run into computers that require it often, I recommend having an Allen wrench set as well.
A magnetizer/demagnetizer is a useful tool. This can help when you need to remagnetize a weak screwdriver. You can get them for just a few dollars.
Some projects can benefit from a smart wrench and metric wrench set. Smart wrenches are wrenches with adjustable jaws. You can get a set of metric wrenches similar to smart wrenches but have individual sizes instead for just a few bucks. Precision pliers are also good to have in your toolbox. We would also suggest keeping a wrench, pliers, and wire cutters on hand. Additionally, tweezers are a great tool for working on tiny components, as they allow you to work more precisely.
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The majority of today’s computers require some kind of spudger stick or wheel to open. Plastic spudgers and openers can be found very inexpensively online, but an old debit card is one of my go-to tools. Suction cups are also needed for some computers with removable glass parts. You may get a complimentary set of these suction cups depending on where you buy your replacement parts.
Additionally, a precision knife or X-acto blade is something you will use every day to open or cut fine items. There is always a use for one of these, so it is highly recommended to get one. We suggest getting a few types and sizes of scissors; one for small cuts, one for packing, and one more because scissors always get lost.
A good air duster is essential for cleaning computers. Compressed air dusters are perfect for cleaning keyboards and computer interiors. Never point the can down as liquid will leak out. It has been recommended that vacuums and air compressors be used for cleaning. Neither of these is ideal; vacuums can generate static electricity, and air compressors can build up moisture inside.
You can clean most devices with isopropyl alcohol, especially when changing or reapplying the thermal paste on laptops and desktop processors.
It is crucial to have a quality soldering station rather than just a simple soldering iron. One of the best entry-level soldering stations is the Hakko FX-888D, which costs around $100. In addition to soldering stations, Hakko also manufactures smoke absorbers and fume extractors.
You can loosen adhesive and open sealed devices with a heat gun. It can also be used in some soldering applications. In terms of appearance, it’s similar to a hairdryer on steroids. Hot air rework stations are more dedicated solutions. Due to their expense, they are only necessary for highly prolific soldering professionals.
Thermal paste is important to keep on hand, especially if you are building computers or fixing overheating issues. Most computers need new thermal paste applied once they reach a certain age, so you will find yourself going through a lot of it.
Superglue is very useful for repairing plastics when they are cracked or chipped. You will probably run into many situations where you will wish you had some superglue, so we suggest having it on hand. However, if you do literally get it on your hand, having isopropyl alcohol, as we mentioned earlier, is perfect for removing it.
Tape (double-sided, electric, duct, scotch, packing). Tape will be used a lot in your computer store, so ensure you always keep some on hand.
Technical Skills and Education
Computer repair technicians are professionals in the information technology (IT) field who specialize in solving computer issues. If you are interested in fixing computer hardware, installing software and troubleshooting technical issues, a role in computer repair could be a great opportunity for you. Learning more about this role and what it involves could help you determine your next career steps.
There are several pathways you can take to become a computer repair technician. If you are interested in this career, consider following these general steps:
1. Earn high school diploma or equivalent
Computer repair technicians must have a high school diploma or equivalent education. Some high schools offer classes in computer repair or technology. These courses can give students a chance to work with computer equipment and develop technical skills. Courses in physics, math and engineering can also help aspiring computer technicians develop their skills. If you are in high school, consider exploring your school’s programs to what courses it offers.
2. Complete additional education
Some computer repair technicians begin their careers with a high school diploma, but many roles prefer or require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Consider earning an additional degree to help you stand out to potential employers and qualify for more roles. Computer technicians often have one of the following majors:
- Computer hardware technology
- Computer repair technology
- PC maintenance
- Information technology
- Information science
- Computer science
- Computing and security
3. Develop technical skills
Computer repair technicians can develop technical skills during their education, work or individual exploration. Many technicians begin by studying their own computer hardware. They might analyze common computer problems and help their family or friends solve technical issues. Consider developing your computer repair skills by studying computers, hardware and networks. You may find relevant information in online groups, online courses and books.
4. Explore certification options
There are a variety of certifications available for IT professionals. These certificates show a professional has developed industry knowledge and exemplary technical skills. A certificate is usually optional for computer repair roles, although some positions may require certain certifications.
There are general IT certification programs or certificates in special software programs. Consider your interests, job preferences and skills when choosing a certificate program.
5. Gain professional experience
Professional experience can help computer repair technicians advance their skills and qualify for new roles. Consider gaining professional experience by applying for entry-level roles that involve computer technology. Some professionals start their careers working in customer service or help centers in a variety of industries. For example, an aspiring computer technician may work at a university help desk and answer technical questions in the library.
6. Apply for roles
Computer repair technicians can work in a variety of locations. When applying for positions, consider your preferences. You may work for a repair center, business, healthcare organization or school. You can also pursue freelancing opportunities.
If you are interested in working for a company or organization, you can develop a resume and cover letter to reflect your hard and soft skills. IT professionals should list their specific software knowledge and any certifications they hold on their resumes. This can help show an employer how qualified you are.
If you want to begin your career as a freelancer, you can reach out to network connections or clients to find opportunities.
To start a computer repair business, you’ll need some essential business software. First, you’ll need business software such as QuickBooks to manage your finances. You may also want to invest in an inventory management system to track the parts and tools you need for repairs. Finally, a customer relationship management (CRM) system will be helpful for managing your customer information, and a website will be useful for promoting your business.
You need to pay your employees, even in the early stages, where you’re not bringing in much revenue. Remember, payroll includes all of the following:
- Net pay.
- Overtime pay.
- Paid time off.
Of course, payroll costs will vary across startups. Typically, an employee will cost 1.25x to 1.4x their salary. For example, an employee on a $40,000 salary will actually cost you around $54,000 after factoring in various payroll tax costs and insurance.
A conservative payroll budget could work if you’re a sole proprietor, or if you’re running a small enterprise and use mostly 1099 contractors — and either is a pretty likely scenario for most startups.
Marketing and Branding
Marketing materials might include physical materials, like signs, banners, and business cards. You might also consider paid ads, as well as more creative options, like videos and giveaways, that might require you to hire a consultant or a video producer.
Courtney Barbee, COO at The Bookkeeper, recommends keeping overall marketing costs to a minimum. Specifically, strive to keep your ad materials under 10% of your budget.
The good news? You can do the bulk of your small business marketing, for free. Thanks to social media and other online marketing strategies, advertising costs are often much lower for small businesses just starting now than they would have been 20 years ago.
When building your business website, you’ll want it to look professional, be easy to navigate, and display information about your services, products, hours, and contact information.
Fortunately, services like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly, make creating a website easy and cost-effective. These content management systems are sometimes free, but premium plans will come at a monthly or yearly subscription cost:
- Wix: $13 to $39 per month for a premium plan.
- Squarespace: $12 to $18 per month billed annually, or $26 billed month to month.
- Weebly: $5 to $25 per month.
Wix and Weebly also offer basic, free website builders. If you’re relatively tech-savvy, it’s easy to build a website through one of these services, no coding background required. But if you’re not very familiar with computers, you may want to hire someone to build the website — which, of course, is an additional cost (although it might become a worthwhile investment).
Personnel and Expansion
Even in the early phases, when you’re not making much money, you still need to pay your staff. Recall that payroll comprises the following:
- Net pay.
- Overtime pay.
- Paid time off.
Payroll expenses will naturally differ throughout startups. An employee will usually cost between 1.25 and 1.4 times their pay. For instance, after accounting for various payroll tax and insurance expenses, an employee earning a salary of $40,000 will actually cost you about $54,000.
If you operate a small business and mostly hire 1099 freelancers, or if you’re a lone entrepreneur, a frugal payroll budget can be appropriate. These situations are very common for most businesses.
When planning your budget, determining the exact amount to allocate toward business taxes can be confusing. It depends on your revenue (which is difficult to predict), your deductible expenses, and your business entity.
Under current federal law, corporations pay a flat 21% corporate income tax. For pass-through entities, business income and losses pass through to the owners’ personal tax returns. Pass-through entities can claim a 20% deduction on income before paying their business taxes.
But know that you can often save money and time by working with a CPA. A skilled CPA will determine what you can deduct so that you pay as little as possible.
Expansion and Diversification
The most important step to growing your online computer repair business is to deliver quality service and exceed your clients’ expectations. You should always be professional, courteous, and responsive, and make sure you understand and solve the problem efficiently and effectively. You should also follow up with your clients after the service, ask for feedback, and request referrals or testimonials. By providing excellent customer service and satisfaction, you can retain your clients and grow your reputation.
To keep up with the changing trends and demands of the computer industry, you should always be learning new skills and staying updated on the latest technologies and tools. You can take online courses, watch tutorials, read blogs, or join communities that can help you improve your knowledge and skills. You can also network with other online computer repair technicians, join associations, or attend events that can help you exchange ideas, find opportunities, or collaborate on projects.
As your online computer repair business grows, you might want to scale it up and increase your income. You can do this by offering more services, raising your rates, or hiring other technicians to work for you. You can also automate some of the tasks that take up your time and energy, such as invoicing, scheduling, or marketing. You can use tools like FreshBooks, Calendly, or Mailchimp to streamline and simplify your workflow and operations.
Miscellaneous and Contingency
Not every new entrepreneur needs to factor travel into their business startup costs. But if you have a consulting business or you visit your customers directly, you will be traveling a lot. You’ll need to factor in the price of transportation, food, and lodging — multiply these costs if you have multiple employees traveling. Be mindful of how quickly those costs add up.
Try to keep total travel costs to an absolute minimum so that you can allocate your revenue toward bigger expenses, like payroll and rent. And to make some returns on all that time on the road or in the air, consider using a travel business credit card, which can earn you points and miles for every dollar you spend. If you do have to travel frequently, keep the nonessentials like business class tickets to a minimum.
Service-based businesses can probably stop reading here. But if you’re in retail, you might be shipping products to customers. If so, you’ll need to factor shipping into your startup costs, including packing materials and postage. Depending on what you’re sending, these costs can reach into the thousands of dollars.
Services like Stamps.com can ease the burden of shipping costs on small business owners. With this service, you can print postage without having to buy a costly postage meter. If possible, you can secure free or low-cost shipping boxes from your shipping service of choice.
It’s tempting to take a DIY approach for all your business operations. After all, who knows your business best? But working with experts and professionals can be worth the investment.
For example, certified public accountants can explain the different legal structures, help you choose an employee benefit program, and ensure you’re fulfilling your responsibilities as an employer. When tax season rolls around, they’ll prepare your tax returns and help you save on your taxes.
You don’t need to hire a full-time accountant either. But it’s often a good idea to consult with your accountant on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis to review your financial statements, and for general financial guidance and advice. Consulting with an attorney regularly can also save you from major legal mistakes like failing to trademark your logo or developing relationships with vendors without a contract in place.
Every CPA and lawyer charges different hourly rates. Rates and additional fees vary depending on the number and level of difficulty involved in the tasks you need outsourced, the time it takes to complete your projects, and your consultant’s tenure. However, you can mitigate these costs by taking on some basic tasks yourself, only outsourcing the most complicated projects. There are even some options to get free business legal advice.
And with the help of good business accounting software, you can handle basic bookkeeping, like processing and managing payroll, creating and tracking invoices, and managing your business bank account.
According to SCORE, all told, the majority of small business owners spend between $1,000 and $5,000 per year on administration tasks, including accounting and legal fees. But as a startup — and by taking advantage of those cost-cutting tactics we mentioned — you’ll probably err on the lower end of that spectrum.
The costs of starting a business can certainly add up, with many expenses being non-negotiable. Do your research before you splurge on high-ticket purchases, and recognize that there are ways to take care of some of these startup costs on the cheap.
For example, using software like QuickBooks can save on the costs of hiring a professional bookkeeper. Working from home or using a coworking space is a cost-effective alternative to leasing office space. And leveraging social media can mitigate your marketing costs.
Some costs are worth the investment. Don’t buy poor-quality equipment just because it’s cheaper — you’ll lose time and money making repairs and eventually need to purchase new equipment. Hire a legal or accounting expert if you’re confused. And make sure your website and advertising campaigns are professional-looking and effective.
If you’ve calculated your business startup costs and now feel overwhelmed, know that there are plenty of resources to help you find startup financing.
Your initial funding will likely come from a combination of debt and equity financing. But keep in mind that debt financing options — small-business loans — are relatively limited for brand-new businesses. Most lenders only feel comfortable offering loans to established companies with hard evidence of profitability, as well as healthy credit, which most startups simply don’t have yet.
Some lenders work with startup business owners, so don’t completely rule it out if you think it’s your best option. Check out more information on how to get a loan to start a business if you think debt financing is the right move for you.
Get a business credit card
Once you’ve established a legal entity for your business, we recommend applying for a business credit card.
The application is simple, and a business credit card is usually easier to qualify for than a traditional business loan. Also, you typically gain access to a higher credit limit than your personal card. More importantly, a business credit of card keeps your personal and business finances separate — essential if you wish to maintain your personal liability protections after forming an LLC or corporation.
Just make sure you’re not maxing out your credit card or charging more than you can repay. Both can harm your credit score, which might hurt your chances of securing a small business loan down the line.
A startup cost is any expense incurred when starting a new business. Startup costs will include equipment, incorporation fees, insurance, taxes, and payroll.
Although startup costs will vary by your business type and industry — an expense for one company may not apply to another. For example, a brick-and-mortar business will need to pay to rent a separate business location, unlike a home-based online consulting company.
Planning your business budget is one of the most stressful parts of entrepreneurship. But being realistic about estimating your business startup costs — and how much money you may need to borrow right away — will go a long way toward getting your company up and running.
Launching a computer repair business demands meticulous planning and financial prudence. The various costs involved, from essential equipment and inventory to ongoing operational expenses, must be accounted for in the initial business plan. Understanding these costs and being prepared to manage them effectively is crucial to the success of your venture.
Remember, while the initial investment may seem daunting, a well-thought-out approach, dedication, and adaptability can pave the way for a thriving and profitable computer repair business.