A Guide to Business and Succession Issues


by Adam Frost, coordinator, www.ComputerCareandLearning.com, 617-325-9526

Presented at the Boston Network Users Group meeting April 3, 2018

Copyright © 2018 Adam Frost


A discussion about the business side of the computer helping profession




The issues we’ll discuss affect not only those of us who are in business for themselves--it’s become essential for everyone in the computer industry, either solo, group or corporate, to be aware of the business challenges we face, and find ways to meet them cheerfully and successfully. As you’ll see, the business side is intimately woven with the other parts of your professional life.


Starting with the hardest subject: Dropping dead safely

Some professions call this the “succession issue”—what happens if you get sick, if you die, or if you are otherwise indisposed?


1. Plan for taking care of your customers

          a. Colleagues to help

          b. notification plan

          c. coming back—Mayor Curley’s bad example

          d. disability insurance


2. Plans for taking care of your business matters

          a. money you owe and money people owe you

          b. help with the books

          c. help with equipment


3. Dropping Dead Safely: Your personal life

    a. priorities—make sure the most important people and tasks get attended to first

    b. will, health care proxy, life insurance



Business structures and plumbing

1. Sole Proprietorships/DBA

2. LLCs

3. Corporations

4. Business insurance

          a. general liability

          b. property

                   i) the cap on home computer equipment

          c. errors and omissions



1. How much to charge, and when to do fixed rates

2. How to write bills/documentation that help your customer, protect you, and get you paid

3. The art of managing cash flow

4. When to invest and when to be frugal: identifying key tools

5. Dealing with late and refused payments

6. Sensible bookkeeping

7. Knowing the real value of money: “These 5 shillings from this flower girl are worth more than 100 pounds from a duchess!”

8. Money, flow and good will



1. Developing your services: what to offer, and what not to offer

2. When to refer to others—stretching your skills

3. Working with customers who don’t have much money



1. Skills transfer

2.  Learning time

3.  ups and downs of online tutorials

          an Apple example

4. negative example—how the CCAL website got written



1. People hire people they like: the social side of outreach

2. the joys and strategies of cold-calling

3. business groups: learning to network

4. pro bono marketing

5. computers for outreach: websites, newsletters, forums and blogs

6. neighborhood outreach

7. referrals

8. finding quality customers and quality work



1. The challenges and joys of hiring, supervising, and growing with co-workers

2. Independent contractors and w-2 employees

3. Workers comp insurance

4. Healthy financial relationships with co-workers

5. Helping your customer adjust to co-workers, and vice versa



1. Healthy competition

2. Tact and help

3. When you can’t stand a colleague



1. Getting what you need from a vendor – some methods

2. Using tech support well

3 picking vendors well

4 the perils of kickbacks, the joys of fair-share fees


Challenging cases

0. A difficult case—how a customer makes you not want to work with him

1. The customer who wants help with security—but not too much please

2. The nervous customer—helping with structure

3. Challenges of working at people’s houses and offices

4. When something very bad has happened—what you can learn from rabbis, priests, imams, and funeral directors

5. helping long-term growth

6. building and maintaining long-term business relationships