Twelve things that I have learned from doing a PhD for starting a business.

Okay, I design children’s dresses and a PhD in biological sciences does not go with it. I totally agree but I think there are many skills that I learned which have been subconsciously transferred in the process. When I was a student, there were a few famous actors and singers who came from an engineering or similar background and wondered, why would someone do that? Why waste a space and so many years pursuing something that you will not end up doing? I am sure most of my family and friends think similarly.

What I have understood so far is that nothing in life goes to waste, especially education and failures. I feel honoured to get the opportunity to pursue higher education that many may have not got. I firmly believe never to regret about any step that I have taken in the past, as each and every step leads to something positive. As a result I am doing something that I thoroughly enjoy now.

So here are a few things that I may have picked up as a result of my higher education.

1.      Be very focussed – I am able to remain focussed most of the time till my three-year old Mini Edition (THE BOSS) wants me to.

2.      Be very persistent and patient – This is a virtue I have to say thanks to those laboratory days, when I had to repeat the same experiment a number of times to draw an inference.

3.      Be able to burn the midnight oil a.k.a. the ability to work hard

4.      Be able to try new things and not be scared of failures – I am shy but not scared. I love a unique thing, whether a painting or fabric. What can go wrong?

5.      Be able to carry on despite people saying you can’t do – Not everybody really understands a PhD student, but they carry on. So I can still ignore such comments in the present context.

6.      Be able to write a proposal, some sort of budgeting, plan of action etc. In short I have some organising ability to say the least.

7.      Be able to have a Plan B – I want to believe that I had a Plan B during my PhD as well as now, but in all honesty there wasn’t ever one. I have included this as many graduates do have one and it is indeed good for business too.

8.      Be very passionate in what you believe in – the passion comes through quite easily in a research fellow and also an entrepreneur

9.      Be able to give a presentation – even though very technical and therefore quite boring in the past, I am sure that stands in good stead for me.

10.  Be a bit clever and smart – I wish!! But definitely be able to walk the walk in a man’s world (it won’t be a man’s world for long  though).

11.  Be able to multitask – The last 3 years of being a mum has made me a good multitask-er like any other mum, the PhD definitely introduced me to it.

12.  Be able to time manage – again it helps to be a mum really. A research fellow was expected to have some idea of time but we all write our thesis in the last-minute to be honest.

P.S. What I did not necessarily learn were to

1.     Be able to deal with real life challenges and earning money

2.      Be able to sell – I spent a good part of my life cooped up in a laboratory, selling was never something I had to do.

3.      Be able to network with people other than the scientific world. It is definitely very important to be able to converse to people across all walks of life.

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Thanks for passing by.


8 thoughts on “Twelve things that I have learned from doing a PhD for starting a business.

  1. I enjoyed reading your post. I totally agree!

    My first degree was in Biological Sciences (Molecualr Biology) and I’d like to add to your list; fantastic analytical & critical reasoning skills. This makes for doing excellent due diligence work in business ( I did HR mgmt for big corporates after doing an MSc in HRM).

    Scientific training is superb for the mind – all of which can be very beneficial in business. Don’t underestimate the HUGE advantage a scientific background gives you – I only really understood this after years of working with people without these important skills.


  2. Hello! Thanks so much for dropping by my blog and leaving London tips! I had a great time on my vacation 🙂

    You can reach me via the email on the blog. Would love to hear from you!

  3. I completely agree. Everything you learn can be used later on. Since having my children I retrained first as a postnatal discussion leader, then as a fitness trainer. My husband got a bit cross with me as after the training it just didn’t feel right to me to follow those two businesses further.

    But finally I have found my niche as a weight loss coach and now as a coach for women in business. And I’m using every ounce of what I have learned, plus more besides!

    • Wow, you have so many transferable skills now, as a result of your trainings. I feel we should all follow our instincts and doing what we want to do and you have made the right choice. Wish you all the best for your future Debbie and thanks for passing by.

  4. I don’t have a phd but wish I had the ability to learn something that required so much dedication. I love learning in my area and wish I had more time. My hat off to you for the hard work and juggling a family.

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