E036 Building a Business as a PhD: Starting a Business in the Pandemic and Without Cash

January 3rd 2021

Dr Natalia Bielczyk is an entrepreneur, researcher, author, and philanthropist. She graduated from the College of Inter-Faculty Individual Studies in Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Warsaw, Poland, with a triple MS title in Physics, Mathematics, and Psychology. Thereafter, she obtained a PhD in Computational Neuroscience at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behavior, in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

In 2018, she launched a public foundation, Stichting Solaris Onderzoek en Ontwikkeling, aiming to help early career researchers find new careers in the industry. She also authored a book entitled “What Is out There For Me? The Landscape of Post-PhD Career Tracks”.

In her free time, she also blogs about careers at www.nataliabielczyk.com. Of course, she also owns Ontology of Value!

In this episode, she shared what she learned in 2020 — while developing her first company as a PhD and during the times of the pandemic. If you are considering starting a company in these uncertain times and without capital, don’t miss out on this material! 


00:09 Hello guys welcome to this special episode of Career Talks by Welcome Solutions. And today, it’s not a talk today, it’s a monologue. And it’s our second special episode this year. And I’m recording this episode motivated by the fact that many people asked me recently about, how is it going with your business. And how is it going to develop a company, your first company as a PhD, especially in times of the pandemic?

00:41 How do you feel about it? What do you do? And I decided to make a special Christmas episode dedicated to this topic and give you an update on what I’m doing and what the plans are. But also tell you a little bit about what I learned this year. And what are the little discoveries related to building businesses that I made this year, and hopefully will help you as well?

01:12 If you are thinking about starting your own business and you’re wondering, well, is this the right time for me? Because probably the financial crisis is coming up and we live in times of turmoil, and I’m not really sure if I should try right now. Or it’s just that you’ve never had a company before and you’re hesitating whether or not this life is for you, maybe that helps you also in making your decision. Let me share my thoughts.

01:50 And I would like to start with a little disclaimer as actually, quite a few people asked me if I’m recording from prison. And no, I don’t record from prison. I’m not in prison, not at the moment at least. This is quite a regular standard room. Don’t worry, guys, it’s not prison!

What Am I Dong in Welcome Solutions?

02:16 First of all, I would like to tell you a little bit about what I’m doing. And I started this company in a way that it’s based on know-how. It requires little financial investment, but rather, it requires an enormous amount of work, or know-how so. This year was spent mostly in stealth mode. And I was working a lot doing informational interviews, and also increasing the amount of content in my first book.

02:44 I released the second edition in August. And I’m now working on my second book which is about general navigation, and the job markets. Not only for PhDs but more in general terms. And I’m also working on the course for PhDs. Well, that was actually already running for a year, but I’m actually now preparing to record it.

03:06 And other than that, I’m working on aptitude tests to help professionals orient themselves in the job market better. And I’m involved in many other projects. It’s a lot of work, but the results will come later. It’s actually a year of production and not a year of sales for me. And I think this is the start of the greatest journey of my life perhaps.

03:31 I already love it and I think it was a good decision. But I will have to wait a little longer to see results and influence on my life, I think. But I really like what I’m doing. Another question I often get is, how does your company operate? Well, at the moment, I’m working with subcontractors only. But I really think that this is the best system of this for now.

04:03 And I always liked the partnership the most; other type of relation with other people. And I think that works better for me to work with independent people who have their own businesses so that we talk like equals and independent advisors as well. And this comes at the price. For instance, if I want to have something done, I sometimes have to accept that someone else has another project on their plate. They will not get down to my project today, even if I wish so.

04:43 There is no free lunch, everything comes at the price. But I still think that for me it works best. And currently, I’m just waiting for my graphic designer to come back from, I don’t know where, because he’s not online for a few weeks now. But this happens, he’s an artist and I have to take it.

05:09 And I think that this works for me. Even when the company grows and starts making more profits and I’m involved in even more operations. I think, I will keep the system for as long as I can, because I enjoy the way it is. And I also think that there is some added value to just choosing people who are best for a particular task, right.

05:40 If you have an employee, you have to then use this human potential every day during working hours. Sometimes, there’s more work, sometimes there’s less. And everyone has their specialty, everyone is good at different things. But if you have small, like a small group of employees, like they have to often get involved in activities that they are not specialists at.

06:08 But if you work with subcontractors, then you can think well, I have this particular challenge. Who would be the best person to call right now? And you always take the best person for the challenge. And that’s, I think, just so much more efficient for me right now that I think I’ll keep this system for as long as I can.

Building a Business as a PhD: Lesson #1


06:35 And now, I would like to proceed to talking about 10 things that I learned this year while running the company. And I could talk for hours, but I just chose 10 things that I think are the most important ones.

06:50 So first of all, what I learned is that business is a school of life. And this is actually the first time when I think I got over wishful thinking. When we do academic work, we are always kind of rewarded for wishful thinking. For instance, the whole grant system. What is it actually?We make promises based on a previous literature and we get money on the table before the project is done.

07:19 Now, when you do business, you only get money on the table when there is a real value in what you already did. And you can prove this value and actually persuade another person to invest in the product that you produced. And if those people are happy, then the good word about your company propagates and then more people come in.

07:44 You have to produce quality first and you cannot just promise that you will do something; you have to do it. And I think that ever since my contract expired, I started growing up much faster than previously. Because wishful thinking is punished in business. If something doesn’t work, you have to change the plan.

08:03 Your ideas will get verified quickly. If what you are working on has no beneficiaries, no people come in to really test and get your product. And that means you have to change something; you have to change the target group or you have to change the product. You can’t just sit and wait or apply for a grant. Well, there are some grants for entrepreneurs.

08:30 But I’m not a big fan of supplying companies from grants. Because after all, this is not sustainable. I think this is a bit artificial system of building companies. At the end of the day everything you do gets verified very quickly. Now, I can understand why. When I talk to friends who have companies, who built companies already in very early age, when they were 20 years old.

09:05 I get the same vibe as when I talk to people who are of my age, but spend all this time solving equations. It’s just as soon as you have a company, you become much more down to earth and you have to get over wishful thinking so. I think I grew up this year. And also, ever since my contract expired, I think I’m a completely different person now than I was, before I started.

Building a Business as a PhD: Lesson #2

09:40 Next, I also learned that sometimes you have to make these strategic decisions between what you really want and what your audience wants. And it’s still hard for me sometimes to choose between the two. For instance, I am writing a blog and I’ve been writing it for some time. Since I started the company, I started writing more on the subject matter of what I’m doing for the company.

10:08 More about the job market and careers. And I can see from the statistics that most of the people who visit this blog, are interested in the content for PhDs. Because that’s how they usually find me. They find me through some other media and they see that I’m occupied with this topic. That’s why they try my blog. And I can see that the amount of attention that posts related to PhDs and with PhD in the title, I get is like 10, or 20 times higher than the amount of attention that everything else gets.

10:41 But for me, the issue is that everything else is more interesting for me often to write about. Because I like writing essays that introduce my general viewpoint on some topic, something interesting that I noticed about the society or about the current situation about very general topics.

But I like writing these short pieces that are like commentaries on the situation. And also, this audience for this blog is not big. But I also have to say that there were quite a few interesting people that came to my life just because they found my blog and they read the some of the posts. And these were not necessarily these popular posts, these were the posts that I actually liked to write the most.

I have this dilemma. Now, what do I do? Do I go for short-term goals for writing, exactly the posts and exactly the content that the audience wants, and reads the most? Or do I go for the content that I like writing about the most, and perhaps, in the long-term, it might give me some really valuable and interesting contacts?

And I also have to say that I learned the most about writing from writing essays. Writing on these unpopular topics and that made me a decent writer. And decent enough to start writing books and feel very confident about my writing skills. What do I do? Do I go for a short-term strategy that will increase the amount of awareness about my company and probably also the sales for courses for PhDs?

Or do I go for long-term strategy and investing my writing skills that will not give me any income in the short-term but will profit me in the long term? And also, probably contact me with some new interesting friends who do very interesting things in their lives. What should I choose? I have this type of dilemma and there will be a lot of dilemmas like this on the way.

And I also have to say that you have to sometimes choose between whether or not you’re going the short way or the long way, because there are different ways of building a business. Even to build an online business, you can do it the short way, the first way. And you can just sell products from other people. That’s the simplest strategy.

Or you can pretend that you sell your own products. But in fact, you’re only compiling other people’s products. For instance, some people just read 10 books on the subject matter and then compile this information and write their own book. And that’s the laziest way of writing a book. But what does that book bring, like, there is no new content there.

13:54 Like takes 10 times more time to actually do your own research and put together your own insights. But then this book actually represents something, right. I decided to do things the slow way and actually produce some original content. And just don’t go for any of these shortcuts. But of course, that comes at the price that everything takes longer.

14:20 And it will take enormous amount of time, before this whole investment in the products and in what I do builds any substantial income. And, I just chose the difficult way, but I just, I couldn’t do it. And it’s all the same with the aptitude tests, I’m preparing right now. I could take the shortcut and do it in a simple way, in the same way that it’s done for many other tests.

14:51 These talents test of talents or personality tests that you can find online, that don’t give you any quantitative resolves, that could actually give you some real information. But instead, I chose to do it the hard way and do it in an original way and build a system, build the methodology and do it step by step and do it right.

15:15 Also validated on a representative sample representing the society or rather the white-collar professionals in the society. And I know that the way I’m doing it, takes 10 times more time than it could, but at least the outcome product will be something I’m certain about. And I already use the test, a small version that I made before.

15:44 And I use it on my courses and people are happy with it. But I don’t feel this is something I would like to put out as a separate product. And I don’t feel confident that this is the best, absolutely, best version I can make. Now I’m doing it bigger, I will say better.

16:02 I do it different. And there will be more outcome information and quantitative results. And then after I’m done, hopefully, in around half a year, I’ll be absolutely happy with the outcome and confident about the validity and reliability of this test. And that’s how I prefer to do things and it takes much more time than it would otherwise do.

16:28 But it’s also my personality, I just cannot let go. There are certain things that are not negotiable and this is one of them. It’s not a point for discussion whether or not it’s worth to take longer to do things right. And I know that about this Pareto principle. I know that a lot of people they believe in this Pareto principle in business, right.

16:54 And that basically says that in 20% of the time, you already get 80% of the results. There is no point in trying to get to 100% because it takes you so much more time than just getting the first 80%. You should be just happy with 80%. But just a few years ago, there was a premiere of this famous Polish game Cyberpunk 2077.

17:22 And I actually I’m quite emotional about it, because I was the holder of CD Projekt shares for some time. And I have to say, I made some income on that. It was a good share to hold. But actually, I sold their shares to buy bitcoin in 2017 and that’s just a whole another story.

17:36 But I’m still tracking what this company is doing and they had this disastrous launch, right. My impression was that they did implement exactly that principle, the Pareto principle. So they focused on the 80%. This game is great in many ways. But they didn’t take care of the details. and these details killed them.

18:08 And I think this is just a great example that, after all, this principle doesn’t work as well. Or at least not always, because this is clearly an example of a situation when this principle doesn’t work. I think after all, it’s really important to make sure that what you do is of a good quality, even if it takes much, much more time than anticipated.

18:36 Personally, I feel that Pareto principle was of relevance in times before globalization took over and before internet. Because today, it’s enough if one youtuber bashes your product and it gets viral, it can become a disaster. Because other people will pick it up and check it out and make their own videos. And like we don’t live in times when your product can be half-baked anymore.

19:06 And people are very keen on spreading negative news about the things they don’t like. It’s if someone doesn’t like some features in your product, they are much more motivated to share the news than if they like your product. Actually, there was some research on this and show that on average, a person spreads good news to three other people, but spreads bad news to eight other people.

19:35 So bad news spreads much, much faster. And I think this is yet another reason to take care of the quality of what you do.

Building a Business as a PhD: Lesson #3

19:47 And the third thing I would like to tell you is that once you start developing a company, you slowly become company centric. And at some point, you really start thinking, okay, about every single task and every single activity, does this benefit my company? And it’s really, I mean, I like it. I think I always had this problem that too many things seemed too challenging to me.

20:14 I used to procrastinate the projects that were complex and difficult. And I had some bottlenecks in these projects with other projects like side projects. I had very difficult to PhD projects. Often, I was just getting involved in hackathons and some other activities, just to forget about this problem for a while.

20:36 But now, what also relates to what I said before, I became very practical and down to earth. Well, before I engage myself in any activity, I always ask myself, what is the long-term goal of this task? And sometimes I have to reevaluate because sometimes something that seems useful at first, doesn’t turn out to be useful in the end.

21:03 For instance, at this stage, I just entered a B2 level of a Dutch course I’m doing and my Dutch is still miserable. I don’t feel I can go even communicate fluently in Dutch and I’ve been learning Dutch for like, two years now. And I feel I had to put incredible amount of time and attention. Mostly because I just don’t have these natural language skills.

21:26 And it takes me a long time and a lot of effort to learn a language. And this year, I was taking a very intensive course, that was altogether 5-hour lecture, and probably another 5 hours of homework. I would say about 10 to 12 hours of commitment every week. And that was a long, that those a lot of time.

21:51 This time was usually in the evenings when you’re supposed to rest. But instead of resting, I was trying to put as many new Dutch words in my mind as possible. And that didn’t serve me well, like for my mental health. And I don’t really see how this benefits my company right now. This was my main reason to start learning in the first place.

22:14 I felt that when you do business in the Netherlands, you would rather learn Dutch? Makes perfect sense. Well, most of the meetups I’m going to are in English and most of my friends speak English perfectly. Like when do I benefit? And my daughter is still very poor. Now I’m thinking maybe it would be actually a good idea to abort this course; even though it’s a good course.

22:44 And I actually had an opportunity to take it for free. It sounded like an opportunity and I clearly learned something. But now when I’m thinking, ‘Okay, what other ways could I allocate the same time? Then I’m thinking, maybe even resting in this time would be better for my company, rather than learning Dutch.

23:07 It’s counterintuitive. But in the grand scheme of things, you always have to look at the consequences and sometimes you have to reevaluate what is actually useful in the long run.

Building a Business as a PhD: Lesson #4

23:26 Another thing that I would like to tell you is that it’s also something counter-intuitive, I think. Because when you hear about business and how you should approach it, what you do, you often hear, ‘Well, you should be passionate about what you’re doing and motivated, dedicated’, right. But in my case, I think what works well for me is actually doing exactly the opposite.

23:54 In daily life, just forgetting about emotions. just setting emotions completely apart and gamifying everything I do. Just sectioning bigger tasks into smaller tasks and using Pomodoro or some other time management techniques. And just rewarding myself, just as if you rewarded an animal, just with small things for accomplishing small goals.

24:21 And trying not to think about the big goals behind the project; just about exactly what you do and just going forward like a machine. And really try to shut down emotions completely, like just operate like a machine. And really, after like the working day, when I can kind of get out of this mode, and just start feeling something finally.

24:51 I always feel happy that I did this because I see how much I did. And then I’m like okay, now it’s time for emotions and living a normal life. That’s something I also had to learn, that just daydreaming and thinking about how do I feel doing this like, doesn’t really work. It’s not very productive. And it’s better just to really treat this as a game with different levels and getting bonus points for accomplishing little tasks. And that works best for me.

Building a Business as a PhD: Lesson #5

25:33 Next thing I would like to tell you is that actually, the way you make effort is a bit different in business than it is while doing research. And when we do our research projects, we engage intellectually for many, many hours on some very focused task. And in businesses, of course, it looks a bit different. There are lots of emails, there are lots of messages, you have to show yourself on social media and there are more distractions during the day.

26:08 There are more little tasks to do, and you sort of burn more calories in some ways. And for me, the working days also long and I feel that I have to respond. In certain situations, you have to respond because otherwise you lose opportunity. For instance, if you get an email from a potential client, then you have to respond because otherwise, you will likely lose this person.

26:38 You have to be kind of around all the time. And I can see for myself that I just burned more calories. It’s less focused work less intellectually challenging, but more energy that I have to put into it, just physically. And I’m not surprised why entrepreneurs often workout. Actually, I myself, I hate exercising, so I almost don’t do any exercise.

27:08 But nevertheless, even though I don’t move around at all, I still lost like 10 kilos this year. And it’s only due to doing work that is actually, sitting work behind the computer. But it’s just this different way of working and I think this is why burned so much energy. And I was eating five times a day this year. Eating itself takes me like three hours during the day.

27:37 I was like, how is this even possible? Maybe I have some parasites or something because how is this possible that I don’t move and I lose weight so fast. And I think this is the reason; I think I’m perfectly healthy, by the way. You don’t need to worry about me. But I just want to tell you that at the end of the day, I’m tired as if I just did a run long distance; like at least a few kilometers every single day. You can be prepared that you will burn calories in the process.

Building a Business as a PhD: Lesson #6

28:21 Another conclusion I have that I’d like to share is that I disagree with certain viewpoint. The same as I disagree with the Pareto principle. I also disagree with the fact that competitors unnecessarily enemies. And for me, collaboration works much, much better than competition, and maybe it has something to do with my research background.

28:47 But I think that is true in general. And maybe it has something to do with the fact that in this particular area. In career advisory for PhDs, we all come from academia. And also, even if we have the same target group, then it still works better for us to collaborate. Because after all, we all have the same goal to help people navigate in their careers.

29:19 And we also have this barrier that many people are not certain if they should spend their own money on actually hiring a good independent career advisor compared to, let’s say, free services from university so. In that sense, it’s much better to collaborate and learn from each other and also help each other. And if I have for instance, if I’m invited to give a talk and I have a choice, if I can take the whole time and take the whole paycheck or share this time and share the paycheck with other career advisors, I will always choose to share.

29:56 Because I think in the long run you have to make friends. It is just way better to share the stage. I can say that at the moment, I feel that some of my good friends are actually other career advisors and I didn’t meet with any adversity at all. And when I think about other people in the space who do similar things as me, I only have good emotions about it.

30:24 I don’t really feel that we should be paranoid about each other. And so, I cannot really relate to this view at the competition, as this reason for paranoia. And I know that some of the people I personally find, authorities. My heroes like Kevin O’Leary, I love what this guy’s doing. But he always says that business is a war.

30:52 And this is one thing that doesn’t, I mean, doesn’t work for me to think like this. I don’t think that business has to necessarily be a war and the same with clients. Many people think that the client is stress; client means stress. But for me, I became befriended with many of my clients. And I always have very good experience working with people.

31:21 Maybe it’s also because these people are very well filtered, because they are all intelligent and they are all interested in self-development. It’s a very good filter for people to work with. But I only have good experiences. I never had any problem, like personal problem with anyone and everyone is always determined, very motivated to work.

31:47 And, I only can say good thing. I cannot really relate to this traditional view of business. And I think that it’s probably true about, again, about business in general, the way it’s going. Today, especially if you don’t have like this type of startup that has financial investment behind and is scaling quickly.

32:15 But rather you have a small company like me just starting from scratch, having nothing like zero in your bank account, just slowly building know-how. I think in those cases, it’s impossible to build up to something without having help and without helping others. It’s just that this mentality that business is war doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for me, and I think it doesn’t work for anyone anymore.

Building a Business as a PhD: Lesson #7

32:50 And now let me discover America, we say that. The next thing I learned is that sales is difficult. I heard it a lot before but I was a bit skeptical. I was thinking, ‘How hard can it be?’ Make ads or actually spreading the news about what you do; as soon as you have good product that that shouldn’t be a problem, right.

33:15 Well, part of the problem is that we have a crisis. This year is probably much harder than it would be otherwise. Because normally people actually talk about what they found and good news at lunch breaks, and we have no lunch breaks today. So maybe that’s also why it’s harder to spread the news about what you do. But actually, I have to admit sales is not easy.

33:47 But I knew that this is something I have to invest more time later. I focused on the product first. But actually, I’m planning to take a course in sales and in marketing starting in January and just improve on my knowledge in this area. Also, to do marketing online, it’s hard for many reasons.

34:09 One of the reasons is that it’s much harder to find a good person who is a specialist and is also charging reasonable prices online than finding let’s say, a good graphic designer or a good programmer, good developer. Actually, I found both front-end and back-end developers that are charging very reasonable prices and doing great stuff; and the graphic designer as well, these folks are doing great stuff.

34:43 And they were not that difficult to find, but to find the person who is actually an expert in marketing is much harder. There are people out there who do it on a really good level, but they know how much their value is. They charge accordingly. You won’t be able to get their advice for less than at least few 100 euros per hour. It’s astronomical levels for me.

35:10 That’s why I also felt okay. Well, I was my own editor for my own book and now I have to be my own marketeer for my company. Let’s just go and do it. But first take a Christmas break. And then right after the Christmas break, I’ll just get involved in some online courses and I’ll see how it goes.

Building a Business as a PhD: Lesson #8

35:37 And the next thing is that in business, indeed, karma is very important. And you never know, who will come back to your life, and at what point and for what. And sometimes people can help you in the least expected times and with least expected things. That’s also why it’s so important to network and to be active at that.

36:04 I can use an example. A few weeks ago, a person who I casually knew from Master studies and we literally chatted in the corridors somewhere in the university a few times. I don’t think I knew much about her more than her name and her major that she was studying. She just told me that she was bored with the Corona and that the fact that she has a very comfortable life right now, but she has not much to do.

36:38 She’s quite bored of the working hours. And she’s a very good programmer, and she looked into my codes, just out of boredom. Actually, I told her what I’m planning to do with the aptitude tests and we discussed. And then she came up with a strategy of how to solve some technical problems that I had on my mind.

37:02 I don’t know if I could do this project without her because I asked maybe 20 different developers how to solve this problem nobody knew. And she just came up with the solution just out of boredom. Just because we were talking through social media and I just told her about the project, and she was interested and she gave it a thought. That’s just an example. And I don’t know if I would even do this project or finalize it without her input.

37:31 And that’s just an example that you’ll never know. Even the person who you would think was just irrelevant, you just, you only know their face and nothing else. They could all of a sudden become relevant. That’s also why it’s so important to make even these casual contacts on events, like remember people’s faces, remember the names and everyone can become useful in some way.

38:07 I mean, it doesn’t mean that you have to get to know people with that sole purpose of making them a resource for your company. But I’m just trying to say that making your network broad and taking care of this network has a real impact. Especially, if you don’t have capital, you really have to be a good networker to get the problem solved. And in that case, it’s especially relevant to have good networking skills.

Building a Business as a PhD: Lesson #9

38:42 Next thing I’d like to tell you is that your boundaries will shift in the process. If you don’t feel like you’re capable of accomplishing certain tasks right now, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be in a year or two. Because in order to make your company grow, like you will get out of your comfort zone. And you wouldn’t believe how much you can change in a year or two.

39:07 If someone told me two years ago, that I was to ever write a book, I always just laugh at them. And if someone told me, like a year ago that I would have a YouTube channel, then I would laugh even harder. It’s just something that would never come to my mind. I don’t know what I’m going to do next. But at this moment, I don’t really even can come up with something that I will be too scared to do really.

39:36 Because once you start a company, it’s like a baby. Then you’re like, ‘Okay, I have to protect it, without me it will die.’ You basically, cross your boundaries all the time. And if you feel too intimidated to start a company or you’re thinking, ‘Well, I’d like to do this, but it’s not for me. I’m not the kind of person who could do carry this project’, then think twice because your boundaries will naturally shift in the process.

Building a Business as a PhD: Lesson #10

40:10 And lastly, well, you don’t need to have it all. Because there’s this stereotypical view of an entrepreneur and the blueprint of how the entrepreneur should be. You should be this visionary and inspiring, good speaker. And you have to make an impression on people. So be sophisticated, right, and funny, and this and that.

40:40 And there are so many different things about the mindset and lifestyle that you would have to fit to actually become a material for entrepreneur that, I just didn’t take this risk too seriously. And I have some personality traits that are clearly helping me with building a business. For instance, a simple example is that I have endurance. And if I am sad, I have my mind set on some goal and some project, I can go on for months or even years without gratification.

41:15 And that’s something very useful in business. Or I come up with new ideas all the time. I never suffer from lack of ideas, rather the lack of time. But these things happen, helps. But I also have features that clearly don’t help to be an entrepreneur. For instance, I cannot really get over losses easily and I have regrets.

41:40 Like most people who have companies say, ‘Well, I never regret anything, everything is a lesson.’ But for me, not everything is a lesson. If you lose money, you lose money, and I just regret it. If you choose studies that don’t give you absolutely anything in adult life then this is a major loss of time, so I regretted.

42:08 And I regret many things like after my fiancé disappeared, I didn’t date anyone for six years, because I couldn’t even set my mind on the right track. And after I lost money in crypto, I didn’t even read about blockchains anymore for like two years straight. Because I couldn’t really stand listening to, talking about prices of crypto.

42:36 It always takes me a long time to get over regrets. And pretty much all my friends who know this, they were telling me; don’t start the company, you’re not made for this, you will never make it, you don’t have this profile, personality profile, for entrepreneur, you can never be successful with this. And I was like, ‘Well, if I cannot stand failure, then I have to be the type of company that can’t fail’.

43:04 If you base what you do on the know-how and you find a niche for yourself, then it’s very little probability that you will fail in the long run. I didn’t try to change myself. It’s also very hard to change yourself, if you’re like 30 or 35. Like to be real, how much can you change your personality? Maybe a little.

43:26 But this type of features are hardwired somewhere deep in your mind. How can you really change it? You either have to resign from the whole concept of having a company. Or you have to work around the problem and choose a business plan and choose the way of doing things that go around this problem somehow.

43:50 And I just choses this way, and I’m happy doing that. And I think it was the right thing to do. No one, actually, has all these different characteristics of an entrepreneur; all in one. And you just have to know your weaknesses and work around them rather than just resign from your dreams just because you’re not sophisticated enough or whatever else.

44:18 Like I’m not sophisticated at all. I always listen to like the most popular music, watch the most popular movies and I just drink the most popular wine. Well, not anymore because I actually stopped drinking some time ago. I’ve never been one of those stereotypical entrepreneurs but it still works so. Don’t really let yourself resign from your dream for such a reason.

45:00 Last year, I’d like to discuss whether we live in good or bad times to start a business. Well, there are always some obstacles. And I think these times are in no way better or worse than any other times. And when one opportunity is gone, another opportunity arrives. I can give you an example that.

45:23 Today, people are less willing to invest in career advice from their own pocket, because for obvious reasons. Because they feel insecure and uncertain about the future. They’re not as willing to spend their own budget on any service like this. But at the same time, there are new programs launched by governments to help people get the proper career advice in these times of turmoil.

45:53 You have to be vigilant and just search for opportunities. And when one door is shut than the other door opens. I wouldn’t say that this is necessarily a bad time to start a business. From my experience, I think, well, maybe without Corona. I mean, the dynamics in the company would be different. And probably, also what I’m doing would go in a little bit different direction.

45:57 For instance, I had to put the project related to the Recruitment Program on hold for now, because companies are not as willing to test new recruitment practices today. But I will come back to this project later after the crisis. And I had to just start from other projects that I can do now, like the tests. But in the grand scheme of things in the long run, it doesn’t really matter.

46:50 I just had to reshuffle the order of what I’m doing. But my whole plan of what I want to do, didn’t change much. And I wish I could show you the whole business model that I kind of drafted in the beginning of this year. It’s quite ambitious, I think, given how smallest company is. But I think it would be wiser to show it next year.

47:17 Because so far, I didn’t really bring many of these ideas to life yet, I’m still working on them. In a year from now, I’ll be able to better tell you which of these projects actually work and which of them don’t. I’m willing to do this in a year from now. And I think it’s an interesting one but let’s see if it works the way I expected.


47:49 And lastly, if you like this type of content, please subscribe to this channel. And I would also like to mention about my book, which came out some time ago, it’s actually almost 300 pages of a book quite a read. And I would like to encourage you guys to try this book, because it’s all my knowledge put in one booklet.

48:15 And I think it’s, actually, everything you need to know to start a new career in the industry. I’m very emotional about this book, actually, maybe because it’s the first one. But also, I put a lot of heart in it. And people tell me very, very good things about it by people who read it. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

48:36 All the best in the New Year’s. Take a proper rest and see you next year; hopefully a much better year than this one. And take care guys, have a nice day.

48:56 And I wish I could tell you guys more about what I’m doing in the company. But with a company it’s like with your butt. You’re very proud of it but you can’t really show it to the public so. Well, I have to wait with that until at a later time when actually, I get somewhere I guess or not. We’ll see!

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Please cite as:

Bielczyk, N. (2021, January 3rd). E036 Building a Business as a PhD: Starting a Business in the Pandemic and Without Cash? Retrieved from https://ontologyofvalue.com/career-development-strategies-e036-building-a-business-as-a-phd-starting-a-business-in-the-pandemic-and-without-cash/

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