Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Karen Carr, Owner of Study Guides, located in Portland, OR, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers? Study Guides is a website of about 2000 short, easy history and science articles. Tens of thousands of people read these articles every month, so the ad revenue supports the site.

Tell us about yourself

This business started as a student project when I was a history professor at Portland State University more than 20 years ago. Ten years ago, it started to bring in enough income that I resigned from my position to run the site full-time. I love bringing up-to-date, helpful information to the public that would otherwise only be available to specialists, especially about Black and Indigenous people and about how important women's work has always been.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

The years of work that went into researching and writing these articles and the new point of view that I've contributed and that has now begun to be a normal part of how people see the past. In my articles, you're going to see non-European perspectives and women's perspectives rather than seeing everything through the eyes of white men. You'll also see how things affected ordinary people, not just the powerful.

My articles cover midwives, potty training, how and why people made charcoal, and when they started using beeswax. I try to avoid accounts of battles, weapons, and politics, but when I do include them, I make sure to name and credit the women involved. The biggest accomplishment for me as a person was getting to control my own time, decide what I wanted to do, and just do it without being answerable to anyone but the audience. I was already working from home ten years ago!

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The technology of maintaining a website used to be much simpler 20 years ago! Now the ad people and WordPress seem to expect me to have a whole tech team, and the site can't support that. I've really fallen behind in the last few years on keeping the site up to date, and it shows.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Make sure you're creating something that's hard for someone else to copy and take over.
  2. Think about how this business fits into your life: do you have time to run it? How will you do that? Is that how you want to spend your time?
  3. Partner with other people who can help you, don't try to go it alone. Find mentors, get advice, and build a team.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I'd love to make more of a team effort now, especially on the technology side. If anyone would like to be a part of this, let me know!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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