Monday, 23 February 2015

Pilgrimage for a job - PhD to Own Business

I am walking with you this long path of preparing the journey towards job applications. I mean successful and meaningful job applications that make a difference to my life as well as to my future employer's life. To accomplish mutual satisfaction I cannot waste my time or their time, I must hit the bull's eye rather than just be some more of the same matter hitting the fan. I thus promised explore three possible vias, having in consideration the unbearable lethargy academia is going through and the fact that life is also to be lived as well as personal dreams are to be accomplished. 

Industry, Consulting or Start-Up? When Industry seek not for our expertise and a consulting opportunity is not an option, what else is there for us? Developing our own project. Is that a viable option?

Well, even though times have changed a lot since our grandparents were born, in both academia and industry, creating your own project/company is still an option. A real tough one, but an option anyways. You know?, in our grandparents times there was so much to innovate, so much to create, so much to bring up to life, times were pulsing with NEED. Nowadays innovation is scarce because this era of consumerism forced the market to constantly produce more and more in a trash-producing rhythm. This created a wheel of constant production of things that differ a picometer from the previous versions. The next idea the market used to overcome expected selling difficulties was the creation of necessity, and this is why the gaming industry exploded orgasmically as we see it these days. The need for more speed, more colours, more characters, more sound and more definition was never a real need, but basically an imposition of the market using primitive vulnerability to stimuli in people. But creating a need very rarely works, and it is the wrong market approach. My idea is that rather than creating need or attempting innovation, one should offer quality. So what if your start-up will deliver more of the same, the real deal here is to offer more quality. Other experts in business might say differently, this is only a personal view from someone who's out there learning the walk.

But for a PhD student with no option but to create its own business there is fear and excitement at the prospect of starting from scratch. Your startup will not have financial power to overcome far more powerful corporations. So where does the secret key to escape the maze reside? In my opinion we can only aim for one exit door - learning from more experienced people and do it with passion.

I am starting my own company not because I believe I won't be able to find a suitable job for myself, but because I don't want to be another one waiting for desperation to kick-in and then do it. It is a humble project, but it is my project and as I err and try again my network keeps growing and my business skills ever more. 

I recently read an excellent simplistic article on starting our own business. First you face a natural fear mixed with excitement, but there is nothing more grandiose than providing for yourself with your own ideas. All you need is to be fully aware of the:

1) Capital required really influences business selection, but these days online businesses have shown that the internet actually reduced costs a lot;

2) Skills, one might have them or not, but when you start your own business it is always good to use the ones you have whilst constantly seeking to get the ones you don't.

3) Managing other people and yourself is like wearing your supervisor shoes. This time you will be able to prove that you can do better under somehow similar circumstances, especially when it comes to motivate or negotiate with people that apparently have nothing to immediately gain from your business.

4) Your personality in the business area you're in is crucial. If you don't like laughing please do not become a comedian. Simple as that. Figure out your top three personality skills and apply them to the niche you are wishing to enter.

I read quite sometime ago a very nice article from Jayne Sharples (Part-time Postgraduate Careers Consultant in Higher Education and freelance coach and consultant) available in the website entitled "From PhD to Business Start-Up" [2]. I don't want to make this post even longer, therefore have decided to just post here the main valuable ideas (in italics) Jayne shares with us and some of my own experience gained in these last seven months:

  • If you value independence, autonomy and creativity you are suitable to an entrepreneurial career option.
  • If you have a go-ahead attitude towards risk then you are suitable to an entrepreneurial career option.
  • If you are committed and do not mind putting in the hours then you are suitable to an entrepreneurial career option.
  • You will need to have a robust business idea and a well-researched understanding of the market place.
  • Read everything you can online about starting your own business; there is no such thing as too much information. If by the end of it you feel dismayed by the difficulties rather than excited about the opportunities, you are not entrepreneurial material.
  • If you do not have an idea just keep your mind open to problems that need solving and there lies your idea. Check these 50 Business Ideas You Can Start Right Now.
  • If you feel like you need a hand, partner up with someone you know and trust.  Check How to choose the right partner.
  • Write your business plan as this is the most important document that'll actually x-ray your understanding of the niche you'll be in. Great help from GOV.UK in BUSINESS PLAN WRITING.
  • Raise finance - if you have no money whatsoever, opt for crowdfunding like Kickstarter.
  • Test, test and test, and only then build your brand. The Guardian has a really nice article on market research for small businesses.

[1] Business development manager, LinkedIn, [], last visited on the 23rd of February 2015, last updated on the 8th of February 2015.

[2] From PhD to business to start-up,, [], last visited on the 23rd of February 2015, last updated in December 2011.

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