Monthly Archives: January 2013

Is MacDonald’s Taken?

When I was first thinking of starting a business I had the hardest time thinking of a name. It was almost as hard, if not harder, than coming up with a name for my baby. It can be tough, you need to make sure that someone else doesn’t already have the name, that the URL for the name is available, that it fits your brand and the vision you have for your company. You need to think long term and how the name will fit years to come. Do you want to expand your business to other markets? You may not be thinking that far or big now but if there is a possibility of you expanding outside your area in the future you will want to see if the name is taken in other markets.

These were all things I didn’t realize I’d need to consider before starting a business. And you can’t really dive in to creating a business without a name. You need to register that name as a business, get a URL with that name, have business cards made up, social media accounts and more. Without the name you can’t move forward. And you don’t want to invest all the time and money on creating all these things just to decide to change your name later. It needs to fit and feel right. When I started out I loved the name Talking Hands. There was a company in the US that had the name Talking Hands. I emailed the person who owned Talking Hands and explained that I lived in Canada and really loved the name and asked if she minded if I used the name in Canada. She said that it was fine that I could use the name. After thinking about it for a little while I realized, as a business, that it is never a good idea to have the same name as someone else. What if this person wanted to expand into Canada? What if I wanted to expand in the US, she may fight me on the name then. I knew the importance of developing a recognizable brand so I didn’t want to invest all the time and energy into creating that brand only to have to change it in the future.

MSH Logo 300xI decided on Smart Hands instead. I bought the URL, marketing material, registered the name, had a logo created, set up a You Tube account and got the ball rolling. After I posed my first video to You Tube I had someone contact me from California asking about becoming a Smart Hands instructor. This was when I realized my company could be so much larger than just me. I also realized that someone in the US would not want to be listed as an instructor under a Canadian URL. Then I tried to buy the URL and was sad to find it was already taken. I love the name, had everything set up with that name on it but now I couldn’t have a .com with the same name. That was when I started using My Smart Hands instead of just Smart Hands.

I know a woman who started her company in Canada and never imagined it would blow up into what it has. She recently started expanding into the US and found out there was already a company that had a similar product as hers with the same name. That company fought her on bringing her business to the US. She had to then decide to change her name in order to do business in the US. It was hard for her because she had created a brand with a recognizable name and now had to start from scratch somewhat.

So when you are thinking of starting a business make sure to put a lot of thought into the name. Do your research! See if the name is taken in other countries, that the URL is available and especially that is available on social media networks (Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, Pintrest etc).

It’s hard sometimes to spend so much time on something that seems so little. I understand the feeling of just wanting to dive in and get things underway. But trust me, it’s worth spending the extra time on finding that perfect name!


The Birth of an Entrepreneur!

I often refer to myself as an ‘accidental entrepreneur’. I didn’t wake up one day and think I want to start a business. I wasn’t surrounded by entrepreneurs, both my parents had jobs where they worked for someone else their whole lives. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a great entrepreneur. I was MEANT to be an entrepreneur but it didn’t come from a desire to BE and entrepreneur.

My desire to be my own boss came from my first child. When I became pregnant with her I knew I wanted to stay at home. However, the reality of living in a big city meant we needed to have two incomes. I had to contribute somewhat to the financial running of our house, and a new baby meant more expenses. So I had to put my thinking cap on and figure out a way to make money that allowed me to stay at home.

My Smart Hands wasn’t my first business idea. I had a few failed attempts before finding my fit, my passion, the business that I would love to dive into.


Smart Hands (27)

The idea of starting my own baby signing business made sense to me, in fact it was perfect! I was a teacher, I specialized in curriculum design, I had knowledge of ASL and I signed successfully with my daughter. Now, I had to figure out how I was going to make it happen. My first step was to plan a curriculum to teach. This was easy for me with my teaching background but it was very time consuming. I managed to put one together and began teaching classes. My business was up and running! I did it! I found my passion.

But it wasn’t until I posted a video on You Tube that made my business explode into the international sensation that it is. More on that to come…

The first lesson I learned as an entrepreneur was this – Find your passion! I think if you talk to most successful entrepreneurs you will begin to see a thread among them all– passion. It’s hard to be an entrepreneur and be successful if you aren’t passionate about what you are doing. Because you know what? It’s hard! Really really hard! But that’s okay because I wake up every morning loving what I do, loving what I’ve created and loving being my own boss.

I love being an entrepreneur!