Feature Interview: Andrea Eldridge, CEO Nerds on Call

familyAndrea Eldridge is CEO of Nerds on Call, which offers on-site and remote computer 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.

1. Tell me about yourself and what you do.

When I’m in office I spend a large part of my time working with my corporate staff, helping them to progress projects and reviewing financial information (from signing checks, to determining expense budgets, to monitoring sales figures).  I also spend a fair amount of time both in-office and at home working on creating content for the two weekly columns I write, appearances, and responding to customer follow up questions from my articles or media spots.

As mom to two young kids (a four year old boy and one year old girl), my time has to be pretty flexible to accommodate their scheduling needs.  I get a lot done between 9 pm and 2 am!

2. What made you decide to start Nerds on Call?

Upon relocating to Redding in 2003, I discovered that no one was providing in-home service to individual computer users, the only on-site options were for businesses.  At a time when computer users relied primarily on desktop computers, the need to disconnect the tower and take it in to a repair shop was daunting.  Nerds on Call was born.

3. What has been the biggest struggle in starting your own business?

The biggest challenge in the beginning was getting past my mindset that starting my own company would be less stable than working for someone else.  I never envisioned myself owning my own company, let alone being an entrepreneur in the technology sector.  When I started my first company in 2001, 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.

 4. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

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.  Also, it’s great to get feedback from readers that tell me I’ve helped them get more comfortable with technology, particularly when it’s helped them to get more use out of their computer or gadget.

5. Owning your own business and being an entrepreneur can be tough sometimes. Where do you find inspiration and motivation?

My husband is definitely my best mentor, partner, and advocate – we make a great team.    Because we focus on issues differently (I’m more analytical while he’s more creative), we work closely together whenever there’s a large or important decision to be made.  He’s the smartest person I know and is as dedicated to our company’s success as I am.  He’s always the first one I go to for guidance or a second opinion.

6. Do you have women in your life that you look up to and ask advice from?

My mom raised two kids as a single mom, working 12-hour shifts as a nurse.  In spite of how overwhelming this would be for anyone, I remember a childhood full of special moments together – reading books, beach days, climbing trees, imagining elaborate scenarios for my stuffed animals.  The fact that she was able to further her career while never sacrificing her dedication to my sister and me is truly inspirational.  Now that we are adults, my sister and I both have a strong work ethic, dedication to family and confidence in our worth and abilities.  That’s a true testament to my mom and I look to her whenever I struggle to find balance between the various facets of my grown up life.

7. What advice do you have for women in business?

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.

8. If you could go back and start from the beginning, what would you do differently in starting up your business.

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?

9. How can readers get in touch with you or use the service you offer through Nerds on Call?

Readers can call 800-919-NERD or visit www.callnerds.com – we can offer assistance with anything computer, gadget or home theater related just about anywhere in the U.S.

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