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Entrepreneur Q&A with Peter Robideau of TeleTechie

In working with various entrepreneurs I’ve seen and experienced a wealth of valuable perspectives from some truly unique individuals. I want to showcase those perspectives and experiences on a variety of topics in this Q&A. Here is my interview with Peter Robideau of TeleTechie. It’s my hope that other entrepreneurs will find insight and a shared experience.

Q: What should my readers know about you?
A: Peter Robideau and Ken Lesser, owners of TeleTechie.

Q: Tell me how you started your business.
A: Peter took ads out in the local Pennysaver newspapers in March of 2004. Ken was still at his original job to cover household expenses and joined TeleTechie in April of 2006. For the first year and a half, every dollar that came in went back out for advertising. We started on several radio stations in August of 2004 and ran some (unsuccessful) Cable TV ads in 2005.

Q: What do you do when you aren’t working?
A: In the summer we enjoy hanging out by our pool. We pretend that we’re at a resort and we’re on vacation! I also spend a lot of time volunteering as President for the Malverne Civic Association. We enjoy traveling and get away for at least a week twice a year – it helps us to stay focused if we get a chance to recharge. What’s the point in working 50+ hours a week if you can’t enjoy life once in a while?

Q: What’s the best business advice anyone has ever given you?
A: Don’t buy what you absolutely don’t need. Keeping a low overhead is one of the reasons why we are as successful as we are.

Q: What do you love about what you do?
A: We love being able to help people and speak to them in plain English when discussing technology. Recovering information from a damaged computer hard drive for folks who think they lost everything (baby pictures, music, resumes) is also very rewarding – they want to kiss us when we are able to do that!

Q: If you were an ingredient found in the kitchen, what would you be and why?
A: Milk – it’s comforting and goes with just about everything!

Q: What’s been the key to your success thus far?
A: Keeping expenses to a bare minimum and never forgetting our core beliefs and values: “Take care of the customer to the best of your ability”.

Q: What do you do to expose yourself to new ideas and new thinking on a regular basis?
A: I speak with other small business owners (many that are our customers) and see how they overcome difficult times and situations.

Q: What lessons have you learned in your work life that you apply in the rest of your world?
A: When you have some “down time” – take advantage of it and recharge. Treat people the way you want to be treated. I have developed a whole new attitude when I speak with customer service reps on the phone or in person. We will bend over backwards for our customers unless they are extremely unreasonable, dishonest or mean spirited.

Q: Tell me a story about your work that has either made you extremely proud or disappointed.
A: We were able to acquire several outdated (but still functioning) computers from a customer. We cleaned them up and were able to donate them to a school for underprivileged children.

Q: Are there any words of wisdom you would pass along to a struggling entrepreneur?
A: Create a referral rewards program. It won’t cost you anything unless you get new business.
The 80/20 rule applies to new businesses (but may be closer to 90/10 these days): 80% fail within the first year, and of the remaining 20%, 80% will fail the second year. Once you are in year 5 or 6 you should be doing well, so be patient – if it were easy, everyone would do it!

Q: Is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you’d like to tell me?
A: You have to enjoy what you do – it isn’t all about the money (but that helps too!). Be good to yourself and your family, and reward yourself occasionally for doing a good job (remember: a good boss always rewards the good employees!)

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