People & Planet
This business makes a positive difference by...
- Helping non-technical people keep in touch with the modern world.
- Helping people save money by offering a lower fee than the professionals.
- Making someone feel good because they know that they are helping you develop your business and computing skills.
Before You Start
Do Some Market Research
Conduct a quick survey among your neighbours and friends asking them:
- Do you sometimes have problems with your computer and have no idea what to do?
- How many times has this happened over the past 6 months?
- Have they ever wished they could get help without paying an arm and a leg?
- Do they like the idea of paying a lower fee for a kid who knows how to solve their problems?
- This would give you a clear idea on how your business will perform
Get Yourself Sorted
Before you actually do a job, make sure that you KNOW HOW TO DO IT!
- Get on an online course or join a local IT institute that teaches you the basics in computer maintenance (watch out for it! Sometimes it's free!).
- Participate in a course that gives you a recognized certificate - this will help with your credibility and more people would trust you with their computers!
- If you think you know your stuff and just want some help on a specific problem, try asking About.com: http://pcsupport.about.com/cs/pcmaintenance/
- You can find online help guides that may help you solve the problem.
- You are also able to email IT Gurus for really specific problems! But be warned, they have millions of emails everyday - it might take a while to get back to you
Things You'll Need:
- A handy computer tool kit that has screwdrivers and other nuts and bolts.
- A CD collection of free (and legal) Anti-virus software, firewalls, Spyware removers. All this can be found in the free CDs of your local computer magazine.
Remember: most of the software tools you need are free and can be found online!
- Start with your neighbours and friends - You have the advantage that they already know and trust you.
- Have a creative and convincing flyer to give to interested people
- Once you're more experienced you may want to: place an ad in your school or a local school newsletter, place an ad in your community newspaper ,pin flyers on community notice boards (make sure you're allowed to do this first)
Pricing: Get to know the business by finding out how much professionals charge for one hour of their services. Then set a price that you think is reasonable.
Remember: you are not a professionally certified computer maintenance person - which is why you shouldn't be that expensive!
Like professionals, sometimes you might not be able to fix the problem your clients have. Consider offering a money back guarantee for circumstances where you can’t find a solution to their problems.
- Whenever you're visiting the house of any client you don't know really well, always have an adult present, and always make sure that your parents know where you're going. You can trust most people but it's better to be safe.
- You need to be at least 16 years of age to be able to be in the house of a non-family member. It's just to be safe!
- When handling electronics, it is highly recommended that you disconnect any power connections to avoid getting electrocuted!
- Make sure that software used is legal and not copied from an unauthorized source. You have to play it safe - you wouldn't want to be sued would you?
Get on with it
Just like a doctor, you have to perform the following 3 steps:
- Diagnose the problem (by carrying out tests)
- Identifying the possible causes of this problem
- Treating the problem
Because there are endless numbers of problems, we have created some helpful guides for some of the more common problems experienced by our neighbours.
Every now and again there will be a worldwide deadly virus being seeped onto the Internet to infest innocent computers such as your neighbours'! You can help them by:
- Getting them anti-virus software.
- If they don't have anti-virus software, go out and buy one for them (charging a slightly higher fee than the purchase price - after all, they should pay for your effort!).
- Keep the anti-virus software up to date.
- Connect to the Internet and launch the anti-virus update.
- To get rid of an existing virus, run a full anti-virus scan on the computer. This should one of the main buttons on your anti-virus menu. If the anti-virus software cannot locate the virus, update your anti-virus software - it might be out of date.
- Advise your clients about the dangers of opening email attachments. Emails from strangers should not be opened as a virus could be waiting to be activated. Also, warn them that viruses may come from people they know.
- Let your clients know about the dangers of downloading suspicious files
- Inform your clients to constantly backup their important files on a regular basis. Make sure that they do not backup their files on the same computer that they are trying to protect.
- Anti-virus software checklist
- Norton Anti-Virus
Spyware is software that loads into your computer without your knowledge and exposes you to constant pop-up advertising. It may also collect your personal information, and change your computer configurations!
The computer might have spyware when…
- It gets loads of pop-up advertisements
- The default homepage on the browser has changed
- There is a new toolbar on the browser that wasn't there before
- The computer is constantly crashing
- The computer tries to automatically dial numbers
The most common way a spyware may get into your computer is by 'tagging' along with an installation of another software - such as free music or video sharing programs.
Removing Spyware and Protection
Yes! Just like those pesky viruses, spywares have their very own anti-spyware software. Some of them are free and you can get them from:
- Microsoft's AntiSpyware (beta)
- MacScan (Apple Mac)
Advise your clients to run a full scan of the anti-spyware software on a weekly basis
Update their operating system and web browser software. If you use Microsoft Windows, you should visit windowsupdate.microsoft.com for the latest updates.
Make sure that their browser security settings are high enough to detect unauthorised downloads.
Tell them not to click links in pop-up windows or emails from sender