Agree with that. Infact it may not be up to individual schools, in some LEAs ordering from sole traders is exremely frowned upon - my school will not do it simply because of this, not worth the LEA hastle.
Originally Posted by Brpilot99
I would reccomend becoming VAT registered and offering 30 day terms / purchase ordering if you want to get into the education market. (I expect plenty will disagree with me).
All I will say is, starting your own business should not be taken lightly. If you are expecting just to fix some PC's here and there and make a living out of it I would suggest you be careful. If your going to jump straight in full time into it you want to make sure that you have a very solid business plan, and if you end up taking a good salary in your first couple of years then you are doing extremely well.
A quick question for persons who started out freelancing or sole trading. How much should I charge business and home users per hour? And remember travel expenses. I have in mind £20, £25, £30 and £35.
You could, but that sounds disturbingly cheap to me. Have you worked out what your expenses are, and what your desired earnings are?
Originally Posted by IT_Master
Assume that you'll be working about 33% of the time. Lets say you want to earn £20 000 a year, and don't have any expenses. That'd mean you'd have to earn £20 000 in the 33% of time that you're working. There's 260 potential working days in a year, assuming you're not going to be doing evenings and weekends. Call it 90 that you expect to be working for. 8 working hours a day gives you 720 hours, meaning you'd have to charge £28 an hour to hit your £20 000 target.
Of course, that doesn't take account of any expenses, so I'd say you want to go a bit higher. Maybe aiming for earnings of £30 000 which'd give you an average hourly rate of £42.
£50/hour doesn't seem unreasonable to me, maybe structured so that the £50's a callout fee for the first hour or part-hour, and then £30 for each hour or part-hour after that (expenses taken care of already after all) during business hours. Working at weekends or in the evenings you might want to slap on an anti-social hours charge as well, both to discourage people from booking you then and to ensure that you get some extra compensation when the inevitable happens.
Edit: Note that I'm not a freelancer or sole trader, however I have looked at this in detail and do know a number of self-employed persons. Their charges are based on the same calculation.
The reason why I asked is because I wanted to compete with all other IT persons out there. I want to be reasonable at all time but £30 is what I would really go for.
Starting out..... £15 an hour
You want to build a customer base i take it? Cheaper prices attract customers back, presuming you have no customers at the moment
a) You want to attract them to your services
b) You want them to choose you over already established IT companies
c) You want word of mouth to spread regarding your prices
Long term, yeah raise them up but starting out for a service, be cheap. Work doesn't walk through your door you have to go out and get it, being the cheapest by a considerable margin excites business customers, and in this economic climate, they'd keep coming back.
fair play mate! I would love to work for myself eventually!
To be honest, I would probably charge per job. That way, the customer feels that they have got value for money if it takes longer than you estimated (this comes with experience) and don't feel ripped off if it takes you shorter than expected. I know that I am somewhat suspicious of 'charges per hour' as some IT folk are better than others, and what will take one an hour (because he's got the right tools/experience) will take others 3 or more. I'm probably over-cynical though :D
If I am gonna charge per service, then I will not have a set price. Why? Some jobs can take up to two hours of diagnosing. Ill rather charge per hour then discount where necessary.
I've been working self-employed, in evenings after my main employed school job, for about four years now. I started at £10 per hours, and gradually increased it to £30. That figure is only in my head though, I don't publish it.
No one can tell you what to charge. Just do what you and what you think your customers feel would be reasonable.
I was just naive thinking that £10 or even £15 was adequate. Doing the accounts for tax at the ends of the first two years, showed I'd made virtually nothing for all that hard work. I was a bit embarrassed to show it to my accountant.
I price each job on what I think it's worth to the customer, how much I think they can afford, how long it took, or how long it should have taken.
There have been jobs (it happens to everyone) that because you're seeing a piece of software for the first time, say, you have to learn on the job. It's not reasonable to charge the customer for that learning time, so I estimate how long I actually spent doing the task once I'd worked it out, and charge for that.
Originally Posted by IT_Master
I'd also add that things like hard drive recovery can be lucrative. Half an hour well spent with something like UBCD or Knoppix to recover someone's precious work or family photos will produce a very grateful (and generous) customer. Don't overdo the charging or they'll know you're taking advantage.
On the other hand I've spent several hours on jobs that, with hindsight, probably just weren't worth it to them.
A few times (too often, probably) I've asked for a fee and they've said "Is that all?". Then I'm left wondering how much it should have been.
You just have to play it by ear.
Other tips while I'm here:-
1) Give out free advice relevant to the problem on how they can prevent it reoccurring. Some people think that they won't come back if customers start fixing their own problems, but they will.
2) Before you return a computer (especially a laptop) to a customer, give it a good clean. Only takes a couple of minutes and leaves a good impression.
O yes. I have done what you said and hope to get some paying customers. I will see how this month goes if I can make a profit of £1000.