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September 24th, 2013

Finding a wholesaler for a new business... Where can I get one?

I'm looking to start up a system building business and I'm wondering where I can find a decent wholesaler of computer components. I've looked at the few which I could actually find such as Entaonline, but for some reason they require 'proof of trade' and in Entaonline's case 'proof of at least a year's experience in the IT industry' or something like that. Where can I find a wholesaler that would supply such a business? I'm not looking for it to become my main source of income (£100 a week or so), just something to support me. Although it may be viable to just buy from other e-tailers and charge for the labour, I think there are more options if I find a wholesaler.

I don't know about the UK. Specifically. Maybe this can help you anyway.

I found a local computer parts company through a trade show. You can also find them in the phone book.

They had a line of bare-bones systems. I had some case badges printed up with my name, phone number, website etc. Then I started selling computers to people at work and also a little bit though my website. I mainly kept an eye on the supplier's inventory to be sure what options I could offer.

When a customer ordered a PC or component, I took the money and deposited it into my bank account or had them pay via PayPal. Then I ordered the parts via their website and picked them up in my car. I'd build the PC, stick my label on it and deliver it to the customer the next day. The hardware wasn't the main goal. I was interested in having them call me for support. So it was crucial to have my branding information on each PC where they could find it easily.

I never bothered to get a business account with my supplier. I just paid retail including tax for the parts. The retail was so low for returning customers, that it didn't matter. I could also shop around. I wasn't tied to one supplier.

I only charge the customer for labor and travel. I never mark up the parts. That way I don't need a business license. I just pay my taxes as income. I don't know if that works in the UK though.

Consulting and warranty support is more profitable for me so I don't usually sell computers these days. I have friends who do it the way I just described.

You might think about getting A+ and maybe Dell or HP certifications. When you do your name goes into a pool of local warranty techs. When a support call comes into Dell for example, they ask you if you are willing to take care of it. They send the part to you or the user and you go and install it. Then you get paid.

You can also open your own support calls if the customer contacts you. The advantage here is you get paid by the manufacturer and you get paid by the customer. You can't charge extra from the people that the manufacturer sends you to visit. But the people who bring you their PC and ask you to fix it are your customers not the manufacturers. You diagnose it and decide what part you need. Then you open you own support calls with the manufacturer on the customer's behalf.

For example, HP has a screen on their partner portal where you can enter the customer's name address warranty status etc. and order the parts to be delivered to you. That way you get paid by the customer and you get paid by the manufacturer AND the parts don't cost you or the customer anything.

Getting paid $20.00 by HP to replace a keyboard on a notebook isn't spectacular, but its super easy and its on top of the fee you charged the customer for diagnosing the problem.

You can also sign up as a Microsoft Partner. That way you get discounts on Microsoft software you use for yourself. You get samples you can give to customers or use yourself and you get in touch with wholesalers to buy licenses for your customers. They also provide marketing information and materials. The Microsoft Parter Program is free. You don't need a business license. You just fill out a membership form and a questionaire about how many people work for you and what kind of services you offer. You get to attend free ,but boring, presentations on whatever they're selling next at the end, they give you a voucher for free software. If you expand and get more customers, you can hire some friends with Microsoft certifications and you get more benefits. I've never bothered to do that though.

Just stick with it and you can make a decent living. People always need their computer fixed. I'm excited for you.

Good luck.

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