Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Katy Peplin, Founder of Thrive PhD, located in Wilkinsburg, PA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Thrive PhD was built to help grad students be humans and scholars. Making the jump to mostly self-managed projects and time can be really difficult, especially for people who have taken pride in being really good in school. Thrive PhD helps clients learn how to work in sustainable ways in a system that is built on overwork.

Tell us about yourself

I started Thrive PhD in 2017 because I had to do so much work to figure out a path through graduate school that didn't leave me burned out and hating everything. My chronic illness meant that I couldn't just "work until I was done" because I had different limits and challenges than some of my colleagues - and unlearning that perfectionism and overwork was so hard. I am proud now to work with all kinds of people all around the world to help them find a way to bring their important research and brilliance into the world without sacrificing what makes them human. Seeing people graduate with their sanity and health intact, making decisions to leave or change toxic programs, and generally finding ways to be themselves in the world is more than enough to get me to my desk every day.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I have had a profitable business from the beginning! I used my research, technology, project management, and communication skills from my PhD in ways that my advisors and mentors could have never dreamed of, and I've built a business that works financially and works for me personally. I was so worried when I graduated that my degree would be for nothing, but I get to use it every day in such fulfilling and stimulating ways.

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

There is so much advice about how to run a business - but if it doesn't work for you, your body, your brain, your needs, and your business, it can be really frustrating, if not damaging, to follow it. Figuring out how to evaluate what works for your business and why is a constant but empowering puzzle to solve.

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

  1. Find community wherever you can. It can be really lonely building a business, especially in the beginning, and finding colleagues and peers to learn with and from eases that so much.
  2. Invest in the documentation. It's really easy to forget how you do things - from updating a website to tracking expenses - and most people don't write down that information. Keeping even minimal notes can really help save you time and is invaluable when you start to grow your business.
  3. Invest in building your email list. Social media is temperamental, and gone are the days that going viral is enough to build an audience. Having a way to contact your customers that you control is so valuable.

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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