Once upon a time, Birmingham in Alabama was known as the “Pittsburgh of the South”. The credit goes to the booming steel industry of the time. Time has changed and so have the major economic trends in the state. Currently, Alabama holds a leading position as a hub of the automobile industry. The state is home to assembly plants of several notable automobile companies, including Mercedes, Hyundai, and Honda.
Keeping up with the changing times, Alabama has also embraced advanced technology and welcomed several new business opportunities with open arms. And if you are an aspiring entrepreneur seeking your way in this state, you have not one, but numerous opportunities to make your mark. But what could be the most profitable business idea at this time around? Well, have you considered the computer service business?
That’s right. With the wave of digital transformation across industries and the soaring popularity of gadgets in our day-to-day lives, computers have become household items. And if you think about it, they have become quite the indispensable tool for most people, especially businesses. Naturally, if you can successfully set up a computer service business, hardware or software, there will be no shortage of clients for you.
The important question is– how do you start a successful computer service business?
Well, to reach the pinnacle, you need to take the leap and set up the business first, for you are not going anywhere if you do not take the first step!
This blog is all about taking the first step. Of course, you will be planning and developing strategy, figuring out your goals and objectives, and thinking of potential customers in your area. So, let’s skip ahead and deal with the important stuff. Here, you will find all the necessary information and resources you would require to start a computer service business in the state of Alabama. So, jump right in and find your way to the top.
1: Choose a Business Name
To run a business in the USA, you must register your company. To this end, first you need to come up with a business name and register it with the state. There are a few steps into the process:
- i) Choose a business structure– sole proprietorship, general partnership, LLC (limited liability company), or corporation
- ii) Select a unique business name addressing Alabama LLC/Corporation naming requirements.
It is important to choose a unique name for the filing, because your filing will be denied if another entity already has the name. You can search the Alabama Secretary of State business entity search tool to know if the name is already in use. A state-level name search isn’t required for informal business structures like sole proprietorships or general partnerships in Alabama. But, if you decide to register a trade name or DBA name, you must search the database.
While choosing a business name, it is also highly recommended that you check if your chosen name is available as a web domain (URL). If you do not plan to create a business website right away, it will help you secure the domain name from your competitors for the future.
2: Register Your Business
The process of registration differs a little from state to state. In Alabama, you need to file the Articles of Organization with the Alabama Secretary of State. Once you have decided on a name, file a Certificate of Name Reservation either by mailing it to the Secretary of State with a fee of $25 ( at least two weeks prior to formation) or via online through the Alabama Secretary of State website (at the time of formation).
Further, you can also apply a trademark for your company, although this is optional. But, if you are planning to form an LLC or corporation, this is highly advisable. It generally costs around $225-$400 with additional attorney fee and a renewal fee for every 10 years.
3: Get a License
Nearly every business in the state of Alabama requires a business license. This might include federal, state, as well as local licenses. To run a computer service business in Alabama, you need to have these licenses:
- i) ALabama State Business License, also known as business privilege license.
- ii) IRS clearance
iii) AL Sellers Permit (if you plan to buy/sell computer repairing items or retail computers/parts)
- iv) Federal and State Employer Identification Number (EIN) if you plan to hire employees
You can find the necessary details in the Alabama Revenue Department. There is no cost associated with the registration of a business privilege license in the state of Alabama.
4: Secure a Place of Operation
Where you are going to run your operations from will substantially impact your business, especially your operation costs. For example, it is going to cost you more if you decide to rent or lease an office space to set up your office instead of running it from your kitchen table. So, decide accordingly and stick to your budget. If you want to build a place for yourself, you might also need clearance from the Zoning and Land Use department, as well as building and fire safety permits.
5: Create a Business Plan
A strategic business plan will serve as the cornerstone of a successful business. Therefore, start with carefully writing a business plan that includes your ideas, goals, and further strategies to grow your business.
The most important element of your business plan is going to be your service list. Computer service is a broad field and entails a variety of services. So, decide what services you are going to specialize in. This could be personal computer repair, IT service and maintenance, server maintenance, and so on.
6: Finance Your Business
A major concern for setting up any new business is securing finances. Luckily for you, the state of Alabama provides a number of financing options for small businesses, both state and private. If you are short in capital, you can always apply for a loan. The Alabama SMall Business Development Center (SBDC) at UNA provides information on financing options available to small businesses and assistance in preparing a loan application with documentation necessary to obtain the capital needed. To apply for the loan, you will need this following documents:
- i) Business plan
- ii) Personal Financial Statement Form
iii) Borrower Information (Form-1919)
7: Hire Employees
Once you have a solid business plan in hand, start recruiting your technicians. As a service provider, you will need a strong team of field service workers with necessary skills and experience to lead the operation from the front. And if you are planning on starting it big, you might also need some office employees to take care of the administrative tasks.There are some necessary requirements you should fulfill while hiring employees for your business.
- i) Federal ENA
- ii) State ENA
iii) Employee Eligibility form
- iv) I-9 form
- v) Employees’ social security number
- vi) Alabama payroll taxes
vii) Workers’ compensation taxes
viii) New Hire Report (to be directed to the Alabama Workforce Commission within 7 days of any new hire)
Along with fulfilling these obligations, an LLC or corporation must also set up a system for future collection and payment of taxes for the employees.
8: Buy Equipment
As soon as you have your field technicians on board, make arrangements for the necessary tools and equipment they are going to need to do their job. However, you don’t need to spend a fortune at the early stage of your business. Buy only the necessary equipment and upgrade as your business expands. Besides, what tools you need depends on the type of services you provide. If you specialize in hardware services, you must purchase the following items:
- ESD tools
- Hand tools
- Diagnostic tools
- Cleaning tools
On the other hand, if you specialize in software maintenance, these are the tools that you need:
- Disk management tool
- CHKDSK or ScanDisk
- Disk Cleanup
- System file checker
- Data recovery software
- Protection software tools
9: Set Up Your Marketing Strategy
The key to achieving business success depends on your marketing success. And in today’s time, the best way to promote your business is to invest in digital marketing. Even small businesses in Alabama are leaning toward the world wide web instead of distributing fliers and pamphlets.
Social media marketing is a good strategy in this regard. But if you want to make the most of it, set up your own company website. You can hire a professional in this regard. But if you want to save some money, you can always go the DIY route and take advantage of the latest tools and technologies. In this regard, Leadpages is an excellent choice. It helps you create outstanding landing pages, alert bars, pop-ups, and so much more, that too without any coding. It also comes with a cutting-edge drag-and-drop editor and an extensive library of customized templates to create attractive web pages with minimum effort.
10: Invest in Field Service Software
Being a tech company yourself, it makes no sense to run your own business with manual methods. Taking a digital approach will only ensure your profit, as it guarantees to streamline your processes and enhance employee productivity. As a computer service provider, you can avail an array of software solutions. But the smartest move will be to automate your business entirely. And your best bet in this regard is to invest in field service management software.
Field service solutions are digital tools that take care of your entire administrative processes. It offers valuable features including job booking, scheduling and dispatching, estimating, monitoring, equipment tracking, invoicing, accounting, payment collection, and so much more. So, once you have your tools and technicians ready, it is time to optimize your resources with the latest digital tool to earn maximum profit.
With the 7th-lowest cost of labor and the 3rd-lowest tax burden in the entire United States, Alabama is an excellent place for aspiring entrepreneurs to start their own businesses. Besides, with an abundance of booming industries such as automobile, aerospace, real estate, ambulatory health care services, chemical and steel plants, it is an ideal business environment for computer services. Even small organizations everywhere are dependent on computers. So, if you are looking for a profitable business idea, computer service is definitely a good choice. Just make sure to follow the steps mentioned above and you are all set to generate some serious revenue.
My world is made up of codes. It is the central element that drives my universe. I am a self-taught, process-driven programmer with a creative bent of mind. Since I was an engineering student, I dreamt of creating something unique. To satiate my creative appetite, I took to coding. Blessed with abundant support and generous scholarships from my employers, I simultaneously worked full-time and pursued my dream. My passion and high productivity helped me in my journey as well. Finally, I created Field Promax to follow my drive of coding and streamlining processes; and do more of what I know best—coding.
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