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No. of Recommendations: 7

I have done some computer consulting in the past, using open-source software as much as possible.

In my experience, it is useful to target companies that have somewhere between 5-25 employees. These are general guidelines, but companies with less than 5 people usually handle things themselves, while companies with >25 tend to have some sort of support on staff. Companies in the middle are big enough to have computer problems, but not large enough to keep someone on full time to solve them.

In general, companies this size and looking for business solutions. They don't care about whats behind it. They don't care if it is open source, closed source, or even what the name of the program is. They care about two things: (1) What problem will this solve? and (2) How much will it cost me?

If you decide to target companies of this size, you will find that they have a lot of old hardware. They are reluctant to buy more if there is any way to reuse the old stuff. You will get calls about everthing from setting up a new mail server to installing a printer. Take them all seriously, each one could lead to more business.

After you work with someone for a while, make suggestions about things they can do to make their business more efficent. They don't want to hear things like 'let me install the latest kernel, postfix, and apache' they want to hear 'I can take the server you are currently using, upgrade the software a bit, and then you will save $1000 a year in license fees. The new system will be more reliable and I'll do it for a one time cost of $500. If you don't like the changes, I'll switch it back for free. Make sure they like it. Propose things like this as solutions to problems (ie. our email went out 3 times last week) instead of out of the blue. If the current system is not broken, there will be no interest in fixing it.

In order to succeed you will have to be personable, always available, and patient. People will not call you - you will have to find them.

Best of luck-
joe




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