"Idea" on sticky noteWhy Am I Doing This?

Thanks for reading so far. I’m now on day #3 of the 31-Day Blog Challenge. Today I’m writing about the meaning of my business name.

The Meaning of My Business Name

I’ve always wanted to start my own business.

I didn’t know what, when or how…but it was always a dream in the back of my mind.

Then, one day, it just happened.

Going for Broke

It all began back in 2010. I was on the cusp of turning 25 and I was broke. Flat. Broke.

After working two jobs for almost four years, then being laid off for almost four months, trying to put myself through grad school, and drowning under student loans and credit card debt, I could barely pay my rent or feed myself. And while landing my job at Pearson in March 2010 felt like I hit the lottery, I knew I still needed a second job.

Let the Bidding Blood Bath Begin…

With three years’ experience as a bilingual editor under my belt, I took some advice from a former associate and started looking for freelance editorial and translation work. I set up a profile on an online freelance site and began bidding for small jobs.

What did I have to lose?

After three months of persistent bidding, I finally landed my first client. It was just a small proofreading job for a few hundred bucks, but to me it felt like thousands. Less than a week after finishing the job, that same client called me back for more work.

Six months later, I had a small client base with consistent work. From there, my workload grew immensely, and it was then I realized I could really turn this into something; the business I always dreamed of.

The Name of the Game

When I mentioned starting my own business to the people I knew, I got support from NO ONE. Not from my significant other at the time, or my own family, and my friends thought I was crazy.

But that didn’t stop me.

I began by doing some research and brainstorming. I wanted to focus on editorial and translation services since those were my areas of expertise, and where my clients needed the most help. I wanted my business to signify the services that I offered, but one that was also unique to me—but didn’t involve my way-too-complicated last name. “Gniadek” was bound to be misspelled, mispronounced, and misunderstood.

So I went with “J”, obviously for “Julie”. “Anne” was my paternal grandmother. She went by “Annie” when she was alive. And since the name “Anne” was already given to me at birth, I used “H” for “Helen”, my maternal grandmother, who is also my only surviving grandparent today.

Since a lot of what I offered revolved around the world of “language”, whether that was the English language or Spanish language, I knew I needed that in my name…

Finally, on that snowy evening in late January 2011, J. H. Language Solutions was born. It took me all of five minutes to register my DBA through the state of Massachusetts, and cost me $0.

From there, my only start up costs included a laptop…and a $25 permit.

Growth, Goals, and a Gift…

Now, six years later, things have changed considerably. And by “things” I don’t just mean by how amazing my life has become, but also my business. I went from beginning with that one small job for that one small client—who was my client for five years—to helping startup businesses with their digital marketing strategies, partnering with larger firms, and churning content like it was my job. (Oh, wait, it is my job).

I also have a small team of seven people that work with me, and I can work wherever I want.

Not bad.

But I realized through the years, and amidst the changes in market demands and trends, I have really developed and expanded my skills and experience, thus growing my service offerings. As a result, I’ve outgrown my business name; it is no longer clear what “JH Language Solutions” actually does. I get a lot of, “what do you do again?”

Call it lack of planning, call it a lack of branding, I get it. One of my future goals is to work on a rebranding strategy that involves a name change. Not an easy move, but the right one.

The Future Looks Bright

So did I plan to start my business? May be not in the conventional way. But like other businesses, it started with an idea—a dream—I just had the balls to go after it.

Some call me lucky. Some call me amazing. Some still call me crazy… but at the end of the day, even through the 16-hour days, 70-hour work weeks, weekends, sleepless nights and sacrifices, I wouldn’t have traded any of it for the world.

The gift? You may believe that things in life happen for a reason. Some call it fate. But whether things are meant to happen, or whether it’s up to us to make them happen, the point is things still happen.

I’m living proof of what hard work, determination, motivation, discipline, commitment and believing in yourself (when no one else does) can really do—and how much all of it can change your life if you really want it to.

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