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  1. #1

    yes, another n00b...

    Greetings everyone.

    I've just recently joined the forums and have been planning on entering the biz for the last year or so.. had been thinking on doing this for at least 2 or more. Obviously, this is one of those "gimme some advice" posts that seems to be everywhere on here.I've been reading these forums a TON lately, pretty much abandoning all my regular forums that i visit. So here is a little about me.

    I'm in my mid-late 20's and currently work for a huge technology company whom i've been with for over 3 years, doing customer support (helpdesk). Naturally, dealing with irate customers comes with the territory, so i have plenty of experience with technology and helping people. that'll be handy.

    I've already taken the first steps by filing my LLC (sole member) and applying for my EIN from the IRS. I'm currently reading up on developing business plans. which i'll write up as soon as i get some free time.

    So here's where i'm looking to the good people here for help.

    1) I'm looking at a good provider, as with most people i'm going the reseller-route until i can get a dedicated server and eventually, my own line. My current choices are narrowed down to:
    a) Ev1servers
    b) ThePlanet
    These appear to be the biggest direct sellers around. what's your opinion on them? Is there another competitor that i may have over looked?

    2) I really like the H-Sphere system from what i've seen of it. looks like a well rounded, robust setup. Anybody here use it? do either of my selected hosts allow it on their systems? is there somthing better? I'm looking for pretty much complete automation.
    a) billing (with recurring option)
    b) setting up the server space and all associated info
    c) emailing the customers with new information, welcome letter, and billing notices.
    d) account cancellation
    As much "hands-off" as i can, really.

    3)Internet Merchant accounts. I'd prefer to have my local bank handle this, if they offer it. (haven't the chance to ask yet). How difficult is it to integrate this into server and web page? my understanding is that they give you an entire script to work off of and you just modify a few lines of html? i've seen some stuff from modernbill and ibill and they seem to be ok. how are the rates comperable with other services and ease-of-use?

    4) Support. Well, it's just me for right now. i can't afford to quit my day job..just yet. but i do keep my cell phone on me, and have a constant internet connection anyways. I would think that with a large host, the connection downtime shouldn't be an issue. i think the majority of my calls would be how-to's, or something with the client pc that i wouldn't support. what are most of your calls like?

    5) Number of customers. Seems like 100 customers is the magic number around here, correct? are most of you gauging that as a success? My thoughts that i should at least be pulling in 125% of my current salary before i can quit, or at least be damn sure that i can market my services enough with my new-found free time to get those sales up.

    6) marketing and advertising. I'm thinking 30-35% of my gross revenue will be sunk back into getting the name out. what's the typical budget for you? My target will be local businesses and consumers, especially autmotive, and music related industries. i have over a quarter-million people in my county, and i can reach a good number through the two major newspapers. Has print been a viable solution for anyone here? i also don't have any problems with accepting signups from anywhere else, but i prefer to deal with people who are awake when i'm awake! I'm hoping word-of-mouth will be the strong selling point for me.

    7) The Budget. The bad thing is seeing some of the people trying to get away with free-hosts.. that's just terrible. Like i said, i'm trying to go with a good host. i hate to do it, but i'm probably going to use a monster-template to start with for my page. i also am going to purchase a new laptop especially for the business (gotta have the write-offs!) along with the usual software, dreamweaver, etc. How much did some of you start off with? right now i'm looking to invest mid $x,xxx.xx but also have low (teens) $xx,xxx available to me. (gotta love home equity too!) should this be sufficient to get me launched and tide me over until i turn a profit?

    I've already kissed my free-time goodbye.I've got a lawyer and a CPA to take care my legal end. the big goal right now is to pay back my initial investment and then later quit my day job, which sucks for so many reasons that i'll not get into here. I've always been a logical thinker, good with computers and have plenty of IT and support experience. what will set me apart is customer satisfaction. sure my rates won't be the cheapest, but like they say, you get what you pay for.

    what have i missed? any advice? Does it seem like i'm in a good postion to hit the ground running and do wel for myself? thoughts?

    I know i pretty much wrote a novel, so thanks for even sitting through this, and thanks more for your input.

  2. #2
    You know what? i just read through a thread by "protoserve" and i hope none of you thought i was him!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Philadelphia
    Posts
    2,277
    Howdy,

    1) I'm looking at a good provider, as with most people i'm going the reseller-route until i can get a dedicated server and eventually, my own line. My current choices are narrowed down to:
    a) Ev1servers
    b) ThePlanet
    These appear to be the biggest direct sellers around. what's your opinion on them? Is there another competitor that i may have over looked?
    These two companies provide dedicated servers - you might have a hard time finding a reseller account there

    2) I really like the H-Sphere system from what i've seen of it. looks like a well rounded, robust setup. Anybody here use it? do either of my selected hosts allow it on their systems? is there somthing better? I'm looking for pretty much complete automation.
    a) billing (with recurring option)
    b) setting up the server space and all associated info
    c) emailing the customers with new information, welcome letter, and billing notices.
    d) account cancellation
    As much "hands-off" as i can, really.
    Again, the two hosts that you posted above provide dedicated servers. If you purchase a server with no control panel installed from them you can install H-Sphere.

    ModernBill (http://www.modernbill.com) is a nifty program that allows you to manage your clients and the billing aspect of your company. This is NOT a server control panel, just a script you can use.

    3)Internet Merchant accounts. I'd prefer to have my local bank handle this, if they offer it. (haven't the chance to ask yet). How difficult is it to integrate this into server and web page? my understanding is that they give you an entire script to work off of and you just modify a few lines of html? i've seen some stuff from modernbill and ibill and they seem to be ok. how are the rates comperable with other services and ease-of-use?
    There are quite a few companies that provide merchant accounts (ex: Authorize.net, Paysystems, etc.) and most of these applications integrate very easily with Modernbill.

    4) Support. Well, it's just me for right now. i can't afford to quit my day job..just yet. but i do keep my cell phone on me, and have a constant internet connection anyways. I would think that with a large host, the connection downtime shouldn't be an issue. i think the majority of my calls would be how-to's, or something with the client pc that i wouldn't support. what are most of your calls like?
    If you use a reseller account to start your business, you won't have to deal with server issues. However, if your clients have issues with the server (ex: mail accounts not working, corrupt databases, etc.) you will need to contact your host to look into the situation. Other questions are basic How-To, "Do you support...", etc.

    If you use a dedicated server - you will need to find, determine, and fix your clients problems (this can take time). You will need to apply security patches, check for spammers, illegal content, etc.

    5) Number of customers. Seems like 100 customers is the magic number around here, correct? are most of you gauging that as a success? My thoughts that i should at least be pulling in 125% of my current salary before i can quit, or at least be damn sure that i can market my services enough with my new-found free time to get those sales up.
    Depends on how much you are charging your clients, however, 75-100 is a good client base to be working with. It won't be enough to live on... but it should make you a good ammount of money

    6) marketing and advertising. I'm thinking 30-35% of my gross revenue will be sunk back into getting the name out. what's the typical budget for you? My target will be local businesses and consumers, especially autmotive, and music related industries. i have over a quarter-million people in my county, and i can reach a good number through the two major newspapers. Has print been a viable solution for anyone here? i also don't have any problems with accepting signups from anywhere else, but i prefer to deal with people who are awake when i'm awake! I'm hoping word-of-mouth will be the strong selling point for me.
    Can't really comment on this...

    7) The Budget. The bad thing is seeing some of the people trying to get away with free-hosts.. that's just terrible. Like i said, i'm trying to go with a good host. i hate to do it, but i'm probably going to use a monster-template to start with for my page. i also am going to purchase a new laptop especially for the business (gotta have the write-offs!) along with the usual software, dreamweaver, etc. How much did some of you start off with? right now i'm looking to invest mid $x,xxx.xx but also have low (teens) $xx,xxx available to me. (gotta love home equity too!) should this be sufficient to get me launched and tide me over until i turn a profit?
    If you have between 5-10k available and start with a reseller account or a dedicated server and work your way up the ladder you should not have any problems

    I've already kissed my free-time goodbye.I've got a lawyer and a CPA to take care my legal end. the big goal right now is to pay back my initial investment and then later quit my day job, which sucks for so many reasons that i'll not get into here. I've always been a logical thinker, good with computers and have plenty of IT and support experience. what will set me apart is customer satisfaction. sure my rates won't be the cheapest, but like they say, you get what you pay for.
    Awesome, A++

    what have i missed? any advice? Does it seem like i'm in a good postion to hit the ground running and do wel for myself? thoughts?
    You might just want to think and clarify to us... will you be using a reseller account or dedicated server?

    Best of luck to you and your business!

  4. #4
    Gotcha, i guess i want to start as a reseller. Thanks for telling me about ev1 and theplanet being just "dedicated providers". i originally looked at aventurehosting, but after reading some bad reviews here, i'm kind of weary about them. I would prefer to get with someone who IS on them, because, just a fact.. their servers are FAST!

    yeah, i'm looking, like most of the people here, to work up. The ultimate dream would to be to buy the building that i work in and kick the current company out! IRONY ROCKS!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    United Kingdom
    Posts
    156
    Would I be right in saying H-Sphere is very expensive?

    I would work with something like cPanel + ModernBill with an eNom account and another backup (ie, OpenSRS).
    ----
    Aaron Ferguson - Administrator
    DroveNet Services - www.drovenet.com
    ----

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Philadelphia
    Posts
    2,277
    The software can be licensed at $4.50 per account one time fee. There is additional $95 initial installation fee, plus $55 per extra logical server installation fee. There is also 20% maintenance fee per year that includes free software upgrades and e-mail tech support. You can try H-Sphere for 30 days. The setup fees are not refundable.
    However, I do believe that you can purchase H-Sphere from a reseller and receive lower prices.

    Either way, if you go with a reseller account you won’t need to concentrate on this in the beginning. However, make sure that if you intend to use H-Sphere when you upgrade to your own server that the cost of your packages will still be able to cover the increase in expenses.

  7. #7
    it seems like cPanel, WHM Autopilot, and modernbill are pretty popular around here.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Philadelphia
    Posts
    2,277
    Correct,

    cPanel is one of the most powerfull control panels, along with Plesk, Ensim, and H-Sphere.

    ModernBill and WHM Autopilot are two of the most feature packed client management programs availiable

  9. #9
    Thanks for the advice on those, i guess i'll be looking into them a little more heavily now.

    somehow i still feel i may be missing something.. other than a host.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Ottawa
    Posts
    2,478
    Originally posted by prohostweb
    Gotcha, i guess i want to start as a reseller. Thanks for telling me about ev1 and theplanet being just "dedicated providers". i originally looked at aventurehosting, but after reading some bad reviews here, i'm kind of weary about them. I would prefer to get with someone who IS on them, because, just a fact.. their servers are FAST!

    yeah, i'm looking, like most of the people here, to work up. The ultimate dream would to be to buy the building that i work in and kick the current company out! IRONY ROCKS!
    If you're ready to invest that much money into it, I'd recommend going right in with dedicated servers. Server Matrix is a division within The Planet, and they offer semi-managed servers. Reseller accounts are generally for people planning to start small and grow over time. By the looks of it you're ready to spend quite a bit on advertising, meaning your business may grow a little quicker than you think. Skipping the reseller stage will definately avoid some headaches down the road.

    Just my opinions. Good luck.
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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    1,301
    ThePlanet, ThrillHost, Hostgator are all good for resellers.

    Choose your target market and make your business plan.

    For control panels go for Cpanel or Plesk, hsphere and ensim are ok too.

    Billing go for Clientexec

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    346
    Good luck!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    5,512
    I would definately avoid the term "n00b" at all costs

    Other than that, you're good to go

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    London | UK
    Posts
    234
    Well, do lots of planning like you have now. And there's one thing you could do, is work for a well known hosting company, work in support or sales. And you will gain alot of experience on how they run, and what you see you can also use the good things in your own company.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    1,301
    Nice plan there. Now put into action

    Have a more formal business plan. state your target market, the ways you will approach them.

    Start locally, its always a good way to start off and then grow online. Have a unique USP, have a nice 2-page brochure for your services, get listed in local directories, have an affiliate program.

    Provide great service, invest in a good looking website
    Do social networking, have a budget for advertising, do your meta-tags and make a keyword rich copy. Provide value added services like site builders, seo tools. Some of these value added tools will be included in the control panel you choose to go with.

    Best of luck and have patience
    "Web Hosting is not just about selling space, it is about facilitating customers needs with your plans and supporting the customer for a long lasting mutually beneficial relationship."- Yaser

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