A Computer Business Center (CBC) is any place where you can carry out your official secretarial works like type setting, scanning, designing, laminating, etc. for a fee. Most investors have recorded remarkable success starting and running a computer business center. For as long as there are official documents to be typed, scanned, photocopied, letterheads designed and passport photography’s taken, there will always be a need for Business Center services in Nigeria.
This business is one of the profitable medium scale businesses in Nigeria that gives a high profit margin when managed properly; you can start with a few hundred thousand and be counting your hundreds of thousands in profit in a matter of months in the right environment. The demand for computer services is high especially in tertiary institutions, offices and in different work areas.
Most computer business center runs computer services alongside with cybercafé for the purpose of maximizing profit and as well as providing a complete computer services package to their customers. Computer Business Center is a service-oriented business and hence it needs skill, experience and expertise. Therefore, you should acquire both basic and professional certification in different computer applications and programs. Knowledge of some basic computer programs is relevant for the success of a business center and should be acquired by the intending entrepreneur.
It is also important that you situate this shop near a well-trafficked location like a tertiary institution, any public office such as secretariats, ministries, office complex, local government council offices, immigration office, road safety office. The space does not have to be in a lock up shop. A small 8 X 8 feet iron container (cabin) will do for a start.
Starting A Business Center
You must make up your mind well before starting any business, as business involves risk. A person who wants to set up a business either in trade or industry is called an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur makes the best use of available machinery, manpower and money for producing goods or service. To get started in Computer Service Business, you need to first decide if this business is for you. As other businesses may require, computer services business need dedication, perseverance and hard work.
Acquire all necessary skills, training and certification:
It is important you understand want things are involved in running a profitable computer business center. Computer service business is a service-oriented business and hence it needs skill, experience and expertise. You should be well grounded in programs such as Word Processing package, Excel Spreadsheet, PowerPoint presentation, Access Database, Corel Draw and graphics design.
Business skills required:
- Management skill and Creativity;
- Financial independence (and ability to Raise Funds to Start the business center);
- Good interpersonal traits: patient, persistence, and perseverance; hard working and working under pressure.
Business Name and Registration:
Choose a business name for computer business center and then register it. Consider starting your computer business center as a registered company with CAC online business registration portal, this is essential in case you need to bid for contracts etc.
A business plan will serve as a blueprint for the business and its management. Having a business plan clearly helps you set your business mission, vision, goals and objectives; and also help keep you on business track.
Selecting a good Location:
For any successful business, a good location is a prime requirement. Any business center should be sited near colleges, high institutions and work offices complex.
As a new person in the business, the price for your services may be a bit lower than what others collect for the same service to help you build a good customer base. Be very careful as you create your price list so as not to start a price war with your fellow business competitors around you.
You will need to find out what license is required and acquire it immediately. Before you apply for a business-operating license, you must meet the criteria that will qualify your permit.
Equipment and Materials:
For a basic Computer Business Center the following equipment and furniture are needed.
Computer (Desktop setup) 1 (5 with a cybercafé)
Software(s) (Licensed) 1
Laser Printer 1
Inkjet / Scanner Printer 1
Laminating machine 1
CD Writer 1
Computer Table 1(5 with a cybercafé)
Computer Chair 1(5 with a cybercafé)
Office Table & Chair 1
Chairs for staff and visitors 4
Internet Centre 1
Other Equipment and Materials you may need are:
- Staplers and Pins
- Instant Passport Sized Photo
- Spiral Binding Machine (for large volume works)
- Paper Cutter
- Server (internet) (if run alongside a Cybercafé)
- Router (if run alongside a Cybercafé)
- Networking Cables (if run alongside a Cybercafé)
Working capital is required for purchase of raw material (like paper, ink cartridges, CDs, laminating materials, spiral/binding materials etc.), for making payments to staff, electricity and telephone bills, conveyance and travel, etc. In Desktop Publishing business the returns are quick and generally turnover starts within a month.
Tips on acquiring the right equipment for your Business Center
- Photocopying machines
One of the major equipment you need is a Photocopy machines. It is strongly advised to buy new photocopiers than fairly used ones. The reasons being that; It will last longer, save you the stress due to constant breakdown, new one makes the photocopied works come out sharp and fast. Manufacturers guarantee on the new machine is an added bonus.
- Desktops and laptop
You need at least two desktops and one laptop to start with. It is recommend that you get a laptop computer. The major advantage of laptop over a desktop is that its battery saves a few hours of fuel spent on powering desktop computer.
- Different Printers
Most customers will need to print their work in different forms. So, you need different color printers (Inkjet/Deskjet) to print material from both Internet and typed work for your clients.
- Internet café and Internet subscriptions
Computer Business Center with cybercafé: for customers who will like to access the web, print out from their inbox, download or upload material. For Internet access, Buy modems from different telecommunication network and subscribe for monthly internet data plan or subscribe for monthly internet plan from good internet wireless connection (Hotspot and Wi-Fi) providers
- Different paper size
You need different paper size such A4 paper, A5, Letter, portrait size, Envelop, Cabinet etc. This can either be bought as a rim or as a carton of five rims. Depending on the amount you have.
- Staplers and Pins
It is advisable that you get giant paper stapler and also regular sized stapling machine, as your customers will be doing high and low volumes of work.
Staff and Operational requirements
Minimum List of staff required to run an effective Business Center employ depending on your operation capital: Computer business center is service-oriented business which only one person can’t handle alone depending on location and patronage.
- Manager and computer instructor
- Computer operator/Trainer
- Graphic designer
Moreover, it is important that you train your employees so that they can provide the type of service you want and preserve brand image. In addition, you can also hire an accountant to keep your expenditures and revenue, invoices and mail report
Minimum Cost to starting a ‘Computer Business Center’ (Alongside a cybercafé):
|Business Plan and preparation||15,000|
|Rent and initial building upgrade||90,000|
|Computer setup (X5 with cybercafé)||60,000|
|Spiral Binding machines||40,000|
|Computer tables/chairs (X5 with cybercafé)||15,000|
|Professional (Self) Development||25,000|
Cost of these equipment and materials vary from place to place; cost of labour, salaries will also vary. An average of =N=800,000 for capital expenditure and running cost for three months will be required to setup a business center of excellence. You may decide to start with the minimum requirement presented in Table 1 and then with experience expand it into your dream business center.
Major challenges to successful start a Business Center
There are serious challenges in this business like all other business venture you will need to grapple with. These are:
- Epileptic Power Supply;
- Software and Internet virus challenges;
- Slow or no Internet access;
- Multiple Government Taxation.
Good Business Practices
Other than the financial aspects of a business, an entrepreneur should also take care of good business practices. These practices not only pay in the long run but also create harmony and cordial environment in the society.
- Be polite to the customers. Always greet and receive them properly. Remember that “Service” with a “Smile” cost you nothing financially but brings reputation and goodwill to your business.
- Be punctual and adhere to prompt delivery schedule. If you cannot meet the time schedule inform the customer before hand.
- Be honest in dealings. Charge reasonably and honestly. Make prompt payments to your suppliers. Trust and Honesty is the lifeblood of business!
- Pay your dues and taxes in time. It is in your interest and earnest duty to pay your taxes honestly.
- Pay your staff adequately. Their Remunerations should be commensurate with their qualification, experience and work output.
- Expand and explore new business opportunities.
- Diversify your business.
Please note that scope and opportunities in any business are infinite and so is it with the Computer Business Center.