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From PhD to Genealogist

Lost Roots Family History, Joshua Grayson

Title / Role: owner
Formed in: 2018
What do you do?

I research family history for Jewish families from Central and Eastern Europe.

What inspired you to start your business?

I traced my own family history back to approximately 1700 -- quite an achievement for Jewish families. I discovered a huge amount of information about my ancestors' lives, occupations, and movement patterns. Tracing my family history that far back changed my life. I decided to start my genealogy business because I want to help others benefit from knowing about their family histories in the same way that I benefited from knowing about mine.

What's special about your business?

I can perform research in archaic historical scripts which are inaccessible even to many professional genealogists.

What have been the high and low points of being a business owner?

The high point is invariably the words of praise from my clients, who tell me how much my service means to them. In the words of one of them, "It is so emotional to learn about my family. I am overwhelmed." Another of my clients didn't know anything about her family except where her father was from and the fact that he lost his entire family in the Holocaust. I was able to trace the family back to 1750, trace their movement patterns across various villages and towns in rural Poland, and ultimately connect with living relatives on five continents.

The low point was definitely the moment when Covid hit and markets crashed. As a luxury service provider, I feared that potential clients would be unwilling or unable to spend money on genealogy research at such a time.

What is your relationship with SCORE? SCORE client What influenced you to seek help from SCORE?

I read about SCORE in a book about starting small businesses. I did not know anything about running a business at the time when I decided to do so, so I knew that I had a lot to learn. When I learned about SCORE, I felt that it would be the perfect place to offer mentoring and guidance.

How SCORE helped.

Richard, my mentor, has always believed in me. Even in moments of greatest difficulty, he always believed in my abilities, my capability to learn what I need, and my vision for what I am bringing into the world. He has also given me huge amounts of extremely valuable information on the practical aspects of starting and running a small business.

What's great about my mentor?

Richard is incredibly kind, understanding, and patient. He has access to a huge amount of knowledge, and is always willing to share it at the drop of a hat -- often even before I've asked him!

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a small business?

Research, study and learn -- not only about your particular product or service but about running the business as well. Most genealogists know a lot about genealogy, and most dentists know a lot about dentistry -- but very few of them know about business skills. Yet these skills, in addition to being an expert in your field, are critical to your success.

What have you learned from your experiences as a business owner?

Never give up on my vision -- even when things seem at their darkest.

My mentors
Headshot of Dick Mader
RP (Richard) Mader

I founded a media company that distributes domestic and foreign newspaper and magazines. I will help...

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