One more suggestion that could actually bring in a few dollars: repairing iPhone/iPad/iPod screens. You can buy the tool kit once and the replacement screens for $20-$30 online. Then you can easily sell the screen replacement for $100 because it's way cheaper than Apple would charge to replace the phone. It's also complicated enough that most folks won't want to do it themselves, if they even know it's possible. I can't vouch for the time required, but at least it's something that's in demand and you can charge a significant margin for it.
I had at least 5 private computer related stores go out of business in my 18 years living in California. There is none left in my suburban area since everyone into laptops and tablets and when it breaks they just buy a new one.
Manufacturers are getting smarter. They don't want people like us opening them up and repairing them. The age of custom PC is dying.
Example: Lenovo UltraBooks battery is internal you can't remove them easily anymore.
Manufactures are investing into the next best thing "tablet computers"
Don't need any but good find. How the heck do these stores make any money with 99 cent items and free shipping? Tax write off?
They use your credit card number to fund terrorism.
7 years in the business. Money comes from data recovery, onsite, and iphone/ipad repair.
If your looking to succeed stay away from the retail side, anyone who is coming in to buy a hard drive and installing themselves already knows about Newegg and will laugh at the price you want to charge them.
Try and find a popular item that's low on cost and somewhat universal. Laptop chargers are our greatest margin item and they never get outdated or unsold. Someone is always losing or breaking one and big box stores charge 300% above cost. You can charge 200% and still save the customers $$.
Your margins and volume on custom builds and other hardware are going to be small so you need steady revenue through other forms. My suggestion would be to specialize in affordable data recovery and house calls for things like home networking. You need to get a foot in the door and your name in their heads and the best way to do that is by literally getting your foot in their doors on house calls.
Something as easy as networking all their devices (desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, etc) and teaching them how to easily share media between them all by installing and setting up whichever applications you deem appropriate. Even if it you only turn $20 profit for an hour of your time, it gives you a chance to drop off a few of your cards, which they will definitely give to their friends if they are satisfied with your service.
And since you'll be doing housecalls, maybe even dabble a bit on the A/V side since that tends to be growing area with HDTVs, blu-ray players, and the like gaining adoption at a steady rate You need to be known as a "tech guy" and not just a computer guy.
Achievements are not for the meek, it is better to forfeit inheritance of the earth so that the mighty may look upon my gamerscore, and despair. Achievements are for men who dream; men who dare; men who achieve! Men who carve out entire galaxies with nothing more than nimble cheetos-dusted fingers and their wits, and in our leisurely twilight days we shall sit by softly flickering fires with our descendants recounting the tales of these unimaginable glories.
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