Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Julia Byrd, an essay coach based in Houston, TX, USA.

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

I work with high school seniors to help them brainstorm, outline, write, and edit their college admission essays. Working one-on-one or in small groups — in person and online — I lead these students to recognize their accomplishments and draw unique connections between their life experiences, values, and college and career goals. Not only do students leave with great essays, but I'm able to ease the parent-student tension that often occurs during the college search and application process.

Tell us about yourself

I've been a professional writer for nearly 20 years, writing corporate bios, website copy, and blog posts that attract attention and generate business. While I loved this career, I wanted to make a difference in the lives of individuals, not just companies. So in 2018, I combined my master's degree in counseling psychology and my extensive writing and editing background to become a college essay coach. My unique background and combination of skills let me help students find their deepest stories, develop their voices, and write essays that stand out to admission officers.

What motivates me is easy: The amazing students I work with will be changing the world, and I love getting a first-hand preview of just how they're going to do it. I'm honored they trust me in this very important and often vulnerable process.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Nothing makes me happier than when a student ends their time with me being proud of (and excited about) the essays they wrote — and to have also learned something about writing along the way that will serve them in their college career and beyond. Yes, I want them to get into the colleges of their dreams, but I also love seeing them realize they can do hard things. And they can do them well!

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

I struggle with finding time to do everything I want to do. I love my client work, but I also love learning. I'm not content with standing still. I want to keep improving, evolving, and challenging myself — the same things I ask of my students. But time is a finite resource. So I continue to learn how to budget my time and ensure I'm finding and striking the right balance between working IN my business and working ON my business.

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

  1. Do what you love. Life is too short to do the things you hate solely because you think they'll be the most profitable things. Find out what you love to do, and then find a way to make that your business.
  2. Take time for yourself. Whether that's self-care or business growth, don't give so much of yourself that you don't have anything left for you. Make sure you treat yourself as a client, budget time for the things you want to do, and then do them.
  3. Find colleagues with whom you can form a brain trust. It's great to have other colleagues who are building and running a business in your niche that you can bounce ideas and problems off of. There's plenty of business to go around, and creating this support system will build you all up and make you better and more confident in what you do.

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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