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Notes for the April 4, 2023 meeting

A Guide to Business and Succession Issues

by Adam Frost, coordinator, 617-325-9526. (Some edits by smi)

A discussion about the business side of the computer technology helping profession


So you’ve decided to become a computer support person. Maybe you work for a company providing technical support or maybe you are running your own business to help individuals and companies succeed with their technology needs.

Let’s go over and discuss some issues and concerns that affect those in the computer industry: sole proprietors, groups, or companies. We’ll discuss some of the business challenges we face, or that we should address. We’ll find ways to meet these, cheerfully and successfully. Remember, the business side of your life is intimately woven into the other parts of your professional life.

Starting with the hardest subject: The HBTB situation (Hit By The Bus). Some professions call this the “succession issue”—what happens if you get sick, if you die, or if you are otherwise indisposed?

  1. Plan for taking care of your customers
    • Colleagues to help
    • notification plan
    • coming back—Mayor Curley’s bad example
    • disability insurance
  2. Plans for taking care of your business matters
    • money you owe and money people owe you
    • help with the books
    • help with equipment
  3. Your personal life
    • priorities—make sure the most important people and tasks get attended to first
    • will, health care proxy, life insurance
    • Groom a business successor
    • Planning for retirement. Savings, Annuity, life insurance, stocks/bonds/CDs. Financial planner assistance?

Now that your life is in order you need to address the business side of your business.

  1. Business structures and plumbing
  2. Sole Proprietorships/DBA
  3. LLCs
  4. Corporations, partnerships
  5. Contracts/lawyer assistance to define bounds for above
  6. Business insurance
    • general liability
    • property
      • the cap on home computer equipment
    • errors and omissions


  1. How much to charge for services and/or equipment markup
 and when to do fixed rates
  2. How to write bills/documentation that help your customer, protect you, and get you paid. Use bookkeeping software or a service?
  3. The art of managing cash flow
  4. When to invest and when to be frugal: identifying key tools
  5. Dealing with late and refused payments
  6. Sensible bookkeeping
  7. Knowing the real value of money: “These 5 shillings from this flower girl are worth more than 100 pounds from a duchess!”
  8. Money, flow and good will


  1. Developing your services: what to offer, and what not to offer
  2. When to refer to others—stretching your skills
  3. Working with customers who don’t have much money (payments in kind)


  1. Free or pay? Books or online?
    • Online sources of training/tutorials
  2. Skills transfer
  3. Learning time
  4. Online training/tutorials: pro’s and con’s
    • an Apple example
  5. Learn from your mistakes
    • negative example—how the CCAL website got written


  1. Hiring: People hire people they like: the social side of outreach
  2. Growing business
    • How to spread the word
    • The joys and strategies of cold-calling
  3. Using business groups: learning to network
  4. Pro bono marketing
  5. Computers for outreach: websites, newsletters, forums and blogs
  6. Neighborhood outreach
  7. Referrals
  8. Finding quality customers and quality work


  1. The challenges and joys of hiring, supervising, and growing with co-workers
  2. Independent contractors and W-2 employees
  3. Workers comp insurance
  4. Forming a healthy financial relationships with co-workers
  5. Helping your customer adjust to co-workers, and vice versa — so both succeed (see: Referrals, above)


  1. Healthy competition
  2. Tact and help
  3. What to do when you have issues working with a colleague


  1. Finding vendors, how to select the best ones
    • Methods to make the vendor relationship work (getting what you need)
  2. Tactics for using tech support well
  3. Kickbacks and fair-share fees. Joys and perils

Challenging cases

  1. Customer is difficult to work with
    • Fixing the problem
    • Deciding when to drop a customer
  2. The customer who wants help with security—but not too much please
  3. The nervous customer—helping with structure
  4. Challenges of working at people’s houses and offices
  5. When something very bad has happened—what you can learn from rabbis, priests, imams, and funeral directors
  6. helping long-term growth
  7. building and maintaining long-term business relationships
bnug20230404.txt · Last modified: 2023.04.04 12:31 by Steve Isenberg