Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in career development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Katherine Kirkinis, Ph.D., Co-Founder of Wanderlust Careers, located in New York, NY, USA.

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

Wanderlust Careers is a data-driven career coaching firm specializing in Ph.D.-level career assessment and career coaching. We help people figure out what they want to do with their lives. Then, we help them get there. Our comprehensive program combines psychology, research, and data to provide clear career direction and step-by-step guidance on how to execute a career change successfully. The majority of our clients are between the ages of 26-45 and are mid-to senior-level professionals. We also work with C-level executives and college students, although our approach differs.

Tell us about yourself

When I was about 28, I was living in Brooklyn with my then-boyfriend, who was very entrepreneurial. He had started several businesses at that point (some did not survive, but two were quite successful). He often read business books like Tim Ferris' The 4-Hour Work Week. I picked up his copy one day and read it cover to cover. Before reading this book, I never thought I could start a business--I was a young woman who majored in art and psychology. I was never particularly good at math and found most business concepts boring. But after watching my then boyfriend (who was 5 years younger than me) throw together new low-cost businesses for fun, plus Tim Ferris' urging that it didn't have any particularly special skills to develop a functional business, I started thinking about what kind of business I might want to start. I had a lot of different ideas and kept a list of them on my phone as they came to me. After I had 10-20 ideas, I evaluated each one to determine which would be the easiest and lowest risk/cost for me to start. I also wanted something that could be done entirely remotely because I like to travel and wanted a lifestyle where I could work from anywhere. I decided to start an online business offering a battery of psychological assessments to help people choose a career. I spent a single Saturday in my kitchen putting up a website on Squarespace ($8) and set up a Google AdWords account for the month ($300)...and then people immediately began contacting me for services. I made a healthy profit in the first month, and I really enjoyed the work!

Today, the business looks different--we are a team of 8 psychologists and mental health counselors working across the US and internationally. What keeps me motivated now is twofold: (1) our clients, who experience literally life-changing results after working with us, and (2) selfishly, the lifestyle. I live in Mexico now. I'm so grateful every morning to wake up without an alarm to structure my day as I please and work with an amazing group of smart, funny, empathic people who love our work.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Our systems and the team that runs them. Of course, nothing is perfect, but we've been able to create a structure that works pretty well for the most part in terms of creating consistent client experiences. We have some of the smartest, most innovative, and most personable humans on the planet working on our team. It's a joy to work with them, and our clients would agree.

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

Having to become an expert in everything! I didn't realize I would need to learn basic coding, principles of US tax and employment law, marketing theory, etc. I would never have chosen to learn these things--they're not really in my wheelhouse (I'm more of a creative person), but I do love learning, in general. I feel pretty damn proud of myself that I have been able to learn a lot of these "traditionally masculine" areas that I've never been exposed to or encouraged to learn about.

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

  1. You can absolutely do it; anyone can! You can even do it if you're not a "business" person.
  2. Be thoughtful about your choice--there are a million ideas out there but try to stick to something that solves a pain point for society (e.g., a t-shirt company sounds cool, but does the world need more t-shirts?)
  3. There's no need to take investment or do anything that's going to cost a ton of money--it's ok to start small and grow from there! It's not as flashy or sexy of a story, but it's a whole lot nicer of a lifestyle when you don't have investors or a board breathing down your neck each quarter.

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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