10 Tips to Help You Pick the Perfect Business Name

Naming your business!

Naming your business is an important (and daunting) task.  You want it to be memorable, cohesive, different and creative. You want to make sure that it isn’t taken by anyone else. You want to make sure that a domain name (or one that makes sense with it) is available. You also have to make sure the name you choose isn’t offensive or negative (in both English and other languages)!  All of these factors rolled together make for a potentially long journey to the “perfect” business name.

To help you with your process, here are some tips:

1) Make sure the name you pick isn’t already taken. A simple web search can give you surface results or for a deeper investigation you can use government business name searches.

2) Steer clear of trendy words and phrases. Just because they are “in” now? Doesn’t mean they will be a year from now.

3) Say it aloud- how does it sound? How many syllables is it?

4) Use a thesaurus. Maybe the name you wanted is taken- does it have a synonym? A thesaurus can help guide you through similar words/meanings and potentially spark inspiration or a new direction.

5) Ask your trusted friends and family for their opinions- what they think shouldn’t make or break your decision but it’s nice to get feedback from your inner circle.

6) Avoid names that don’t relate to your business in some way- you don’t want to confuse people or make it so farfetched that people don’t make any connection. If your name doesn’t convey your vision- perhaps a tagline/slogan needs to be added to help shed light on your venture.

7) Avoid ‘crazy’ and misspelled names. You want people to be able to enter your business name into a search engine and find you. In some instances it can make your name more memorable- but in an electronic age? Always try and consider what an audience will be typing into Google.

8) Perhaps you can combine two words? *ach hem* facebook *cough*

9) Initials and acronyms are ‘ok’… they are just boring… meh. Plus a custom two or three letter company URL will be hard to come across.

10)Think of your logo. How will your business name appear? It’s an important part of your branding!

Your business name and logo is the first thing potential customers and employees will learn about you and we all know the value of first impressions. Have fun with it, it won’t happen overnight (most times) and remember that at the end of the day- this is your vision, your company and your logo. Follow your heart and enjoy the process.


The Importance of Merchandising Your Storefront Window

Merchandising Your Storefront

I often find myself judging storefronts and (sometimes) secretly wanting to run inside and start switching it around. I would do it if I didn’t know I would be crossing lines of sorts… To be honest, I have sent emails to stores in the past- offering some assistance and even free tips to how they can improve street traffic and be more visually appealing. The importance of your window dressing seems to be thrown to the wind for some small business owners. Their philosophy seems to fall under “the more I show the more customers will come”. Little do they know, their window display says “Who cares about unity/theme” or “I haven’t switched my window in a year- so what?”

I am here to tell you that you are missing the mark if you are taking your storefront space for granted. Consider it a street billboard! Your storefront needs to have what it takes to catch/grab attention then reel ‘em in. Now what you showcase varies obviously on what your store is selling- I can’t pick and choose pieces for you to feature. I can however tell you that less is more, themes are appealing to the eye, colour blocking and colour harmony work wonders and that you shouldn’t be afraid of signage. Not TOO much signage (again less is more) but you can create a visual story in your window and sometimes text can help drive it home. If you are having a great sale? Let people know about it!

Keep the product you are showcasing seasonally appropriate and on trend. Make sure that you play on annual holidays (you know they are coming and you can plan around them- Valentine’s Day, Mothers Day, Christmas), I recommend switching your store front up every three months. When seasons change- so do you. Why? Because humans have something called a memory- and if you always look the same? They will remember that and no longer pay attention to your window.

Don’t be afraid to use props! Use your imagination! It doesn’t have to cost thousands- bring in branches, tissue balls, vases- whatever! As long as what you use isn’t branded or showcased as the “star” of your window (you don’t want people coming in to buy it if you don’t sell it) then go for it! Use pinterest for inspiration if you need to.

Now I want to drive home the whole “Less is more” I touched on earlier.  A lot of people seem to think if they put ‘one of everything’ in the window then customers will see what they have and come in… Looking outside-in will save customers time because they will KNOW you carry it… Right? Wrong. You actually scare them away. There is too much to take in and you lose their interest quickly. They don’t have the attention span to scan every nook and cranny of your display. You come across as unorganized and not a lot of people care to shimmy through clutter. It is your job to merchandise in such a way that you entice people to enter through your door to see what your store is all about. Create curiosity.

By merchandising your storefront window- you show that you care how you are perceived. That you are proud of what you carry and that you are constantly looking to improve and updating your inventory accordingly. You will notice an increase of off-street customers, compliments and I believe a heightened sense of pride.

Anyone else have any merchandising tips they’d like to share? Please do!

Share in the comment section below.

Why Your Business Should Be Writing a Blog

Why your business should blog

Blogging is more than sharing angry vents, happy memories, self-indulgent bragging and hobby posts. It is a marketing tool, an SEO gem and a shareable opportunity to provide your audience with helpful, inspirational and real information.

Let me explain in better detail.

Blogs drive traffic to your website. How? Well every time you publish a post, it signals to search engines and tells them that they need to re-scan your website- that you are active and have updated/provided new information. So what? Well every new indexed page means a heightened chance that your blog is going to surface when someone types keywords into a search engine… which means strangers will read your post, be directed to your site- then SHARE your post… then their contacts will be directed to your site and so on and so forth.

Blogs provide shareable content. When you write relevant information, people will want to share it on twitter, facebook, google+, pinterest and linkedin. Most blog hosts automatically imbed a “share” button at the bottom of each published post- so no need to worry about that. So again you are driving people to your site through your blog.

Blogs provide you with street cred. Or industry cred… whatever you prefer. Your blog showcases your knowledge and your willingness to share that knowledge. You are confident enough in your ability to communicate with your audience!

Blogs give your company a voice. Obviously your blog content will be relevant, on brand and the ‘voice’ you use will be consistent. People will get an idea of what to expect when they communicate with your company by what they read on your blog, how you respond to comments (good AND bad) and the tone in your posts.

Blogs are fairly easy to set up. You don’t have to be a graphic designer! You can use sites like wordpress, hubspot, blog.com… we use wordpress- but the choice is yours! You can choose from a plethora of template designs and colours to suit your needs and keep you on brand.

I recommend writing your posts in word or some other word processor- that way you can utilize the spelling/ grammar features AND you can save it half way through. You can also start multiple posts and go back to them if your brain freezes. I also don’t like to fully rely on the world wide web to save my draft properly should a hiccup occur.

Blogging isn’t scary. It’s fun and with practice comes confidence! Don’t think too much about tweaking it into perfection (you can always go back and edit after it’s published) just write it, check grammar and spelling and hit publish! You can do this! Follow likeminded people- read their blogs. Get inspired and be inspiring!
Good luck!

How to Provide Good Customer Service in a Bad Situation

Good Customer Service

You have heard it time and time again- the customer is always right. Although that isn’t always TRUE -We have to pretend it is sometimes. There are exceptions to every rule of course. If your customer is paying you to guide them and give a consultation? Then you can/should be right- because you are the expert.

As a business, we have to be exceptionally careful when it comes to what we say to who, how we handle situations and clientele in general. Why? Social media/word of mouth- that’s why. Not for nothing but a bad review can be shared to thousands of people in less than an hour, tarnishes your reputation and it sticks in search engines! Word of mouth has been morphed into a crazed/shareable and influential monster that unfortunately we need to be aware of.

So how do we provide the best customer service possible? Especially in times when we don’t exactly want to? Well, there are some techniques I’d like to share with you.
1.  Don’t avoid the problem
You cannot shun the customer and expect them to disappear. Some will, some won’t, but that’s not a chance you should take. Just take a deep breath and run at it. What’s the worst that can happen? An angry customer? Too late.

2.  Listen to the customers issue with your full attention- let them finish
Most times the customer just wants a solution. Sometimes they know that nothing can be done to rectify their dismay- they just need a good vent and they just need to feel like someone is listening to them. There are even times when the issue will be completely uncalled for and left field- in these cases, put your sympathetic shoes on. You don’t know what this other human being has gone through today. A family issue, death, lost job… who knows. Is it fair that they are taking it out on you? Nope… not at all, but it is nice of you to take the time out and provide them with the best customer service you can!

3.  Address the issue as soon as possible
Don’t let your inbox and mailbox fill up. (See step one). Take care of the customer ASAP. Even if you are jammed, let them know you will be getting back to them. Just sizzle the heat a bit until you can extinguish the flame. Answer your phone and reply to your emails.

4.  Don’t pass the buck
Don’t blame anyone else and don’t pass the customer through a wringer (they won’t go away). If you want to upset the customer even more? Pretend that you have no idea how your company’s policies work, or who can help with what. THAT will do it. If your employees actually don’t know how policies work or who can help with what? Then you have a bigger issue.

5. Try and stop issues before they start
This is easier said than done sometimes, but by providing great customer service at all times, by delivering on your promises, smiling, training your employees to handle heated situations at floor level and by offering legit products and services? You can reduce the amount of upset customers.

Now don’t fret, there is PR and other ways that you can reverse a negative experience… and let’s be honest: some people just cannot be helped no matter what you do. Don’t take it personally (remember that some people may just be having a bad day) and rest well tonight- because overall the general public is pretty empathetic if it’s one bad review in a sea of good ones.

In the end, just try and take your customer complaints with a grain of salt. Bill Gates said it right-

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”