Q&A 4Her – Andrea Eldridge
As CEO of Nerds On Call, entrepreneur and woman business owner Andrea Eldridge is involved in the ever-changing world of technology. Because of this, she’s had to learn to adapt her business model to accommodate. This has led to the expansion of her business that initially started as an onsite computer repair service to a company providing a full range of tech repairs with locations in California, Oregon and Washington.
MyCity4Her.com caught up with Adrea and she told us what she underestimated about her industry, what she loves best about what she does and more. She also shares the best advice she’s ever received–and it involves monkeys. Intrigued? Read on for Andrea’s full Q&A 4Her interview.
Did you ever imagine yourself achieving what you have?
I never envisioned myself owning my own company, let alone being an entrepreneur in the technology sector. When I started my first company in 2002, my husband pointed out that when you work for yourself you have more control over your employment fate than you do working for a company–when someone else’s bad business decision can lead to your layoff. This lead to a fundamental shift in my thinking and allowed me to take the leap to starting out on my own. I’ve been lucky enough to partner with a great creative balance to my more structured way of thinking. As a team, he pushes me to try new directions while I figure out how to make it happen logistically.
What in hindsight would you say you underestimated about your industry or business and why?
While I certainly expect technology to shift rapidly, I underestimated that there would be fundamental shifts every 3-5 years. This has required that we be dynamic in our business model. When we started, providing onsite service was a major benefit to customers that didn’t want to have to take apart their desktop system and bring it in to our office. As people shifted to laptops, they wanted to be able to drop off the system at their convenience, so having an easy-to-find location became more important. Now, people are using smartphones and tablets for more of their day-to-day computing, so we’ve had to add a mobile computing department to accommodate.
What is the best business related advice you have ever been given?
My management style is fundamentally based on Kenneth Blanchard’s series of books, “The One Minute Manager.” In “The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey,” there is a piece of advice that roughly breaks down to, “everyone leaves my office with the monkey they came in with.” This is a great reminder that you hire smart, effective people. They’re capable of resolving problems. If you take on everything they bring to you, you’ll be overwhelmed and they’ll never grow to their full potential. Delegate, help them find the solution, and make sure they take the next step – don’t take on everyone’s monkeys or you’ll soon be living in a zoo.
What do you love the most about what you do and why?
I live in a relatively small town. People I see in the grocery store know about my company, in many cases have used our services, and are usually excited to tell me about their great experience. That’s a wonderful feeling.
What if you knew then what you know now would you do differently and why?
I’ve learned a lot about customer service over the years. In the early days, I felt it was important to explain to an upset customer why something happened, getting caught up in fault, blame and defending company honor. Now I know that no one wants to hear anything other than, “I’m so sorry that happened. Let’s fix it.” Once you can separate yourself from trying to explain why something happened, it’s incredibly freeing. Everyone wants to be able to fix a problem. Why wallow in what got you there if you can just make the customer happy again?
When you’re not working how do you like to spend your time?
I have a three-year-old son and a four-month-old daughter so my free time is definitely family time. We love to take road trips to the beach, go sledding in the mountains, hike in the forest, or float on a raft in the lake. Did I mention I love where I live?
How do you define success?
Having the ability and confidence to make your own decisions, change course if you’re wrong, and stay true to yourself when challenged.
If you had to share one final thought with our audience of thousands of women in business what would it be?
Don’t apologize for the choices you make for yourself and your family. There are expectations placed on women that simply aren’t asked of men. No one would ask a man if it’s fair to his kids that his wife stays home while he runs a company. If you find a work-life balance that works for you and your loved ones, that’s all that matters.
About Andrea Eldridge: Meet Andrea Eldridge, mom of two, and author of “Smartphone 101: Integrating Your iPhone Into a Windows World.”
Andrea Eldridge is CEO of Nerds on Call, which offers on-site computer and home theater set-up and repair. Andrea is the syndicated columnist of Computer Nerds On Call (for Scripps-Howard Newspapers) and Nerd Chick Adventures, which runs weekly in the Redding Record Searchlight.
She regularly appears as a guest tech correspondent on eHow, ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, Good Morning Arizona and MORE Good Day Portland, offering viewers easy tips on technology, Internet lifestyle, and gadgets.