To Be a Beginner Again

Mindset, Personal Growth

The past year has been both challenging and rewarding. There were times when I couldn’t sleep because of excitement. Other times, it was because I couldn’t shake off the anxiety. Funny. Sometimes I couldn’t tell which one I was feeling!

Last year, I launched an e-commerce store. I’ve been meaning to start earlier but felt I needed to learn more. Work would need to be done for setting up, sourcing, marketing, SEO, payment processing, fulfilment, and taxation. It would be too cumbersome, I thought, but I started anyway.

I opened an Etsy shop. At first, I felt out of place. Did I have anything unique? Perhaps. Hand-made? Not sure. Vintage? Definitely not. It was going to be another platform, another thing to learn. It could be tiresome, I thought, but I opened a shop anyway.

I also learned about affiliate marketing. I’ve been hearing about it but thought it would be too much work. There’s research, writing content, and building credibility. I wasn’t sure if it would be worthwhile, but I studied it anyway and started writing.

At my day job, I became a Product Manager. I have lead projects before but as a designer, dealt with clients but only about design, and presented countless times but just to demonstrate my concepts. I have also managed deadlines, expectations, and resources, but only of my own. With more meetings, more responsibilities, and a lot of unknowns, I accepted the role anyway.

I ventured into Amazon, App Store, and other sites where I could sell online. “Why not? How hard could it be?”, I thought to myself.

I wish I could tell you how easy it was to start a new venture and be able to give you tips to make it easier. But no. Not yet, at least. Starting was hard and it took a lot of energy.


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Looking back, I see now that the challenge was not that I was lazy (although I can be at times) or that I didn’t know what to do. My problem was that I was afraid to be a beginner again.

I’ve been a designer and employee for almost 10 years now. I’ve developed certain skills that make people see me as an expert, a master of some sort, or a relatively seasoned veteran. Weird flex, but ok? I can say that because people pay me to do what I do… and they pay well! The truth is I’m comfortable. Maybe too comfortable. I’m used to being relatively good at my craft and I’m afraid to do something that I know will be totally new to me. Imagine asking people to pay you to do something you know you are a beginner at? It’s terrifying!

Maybe you don’t feel the same way, but if you are like most experts or professionals, you too are afraid to be a beginner again.

It might be the reason why you’re stuck and can’t seem to move forward.

  • you want to build a blog, but can’t start writing
  • you want to start a youtube channel, but spend most of your time only researching about equipment or daydreaming about how cool it would be to be a vlogger
  • you want to learn a new skill but end up comparing yourself to experts
  • you want to create a business and get excited for a while, but that’s it — a cycle of desire, excitement, and eventually losing interest

It can be scary to start something totally new. Most experts tend to settle on what they’re good at and that’s not wrong, but it can be limiting.

Somehow as we progress in our craft or career, we forget what it feels like to be a beginner — to feel the anxiety of not knowing something and to be overwhelmed with excitement of learning something new. We think, ‘why grind learning something new again when you can stay comfortable with what’s already familiar?’


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

With many things being instant nowadays, it becomes all too easy to forget that the road to mastery takes time and being a beginner is part of the journey. Starting is hard. Yes. But the goal is not to make starting easy, but to take the first step. So:

  • write and publish that first blog post – you’ll have a lot of time to edit and polish it later
  • record, edit, and post that first youtube video – you can grow as your audience grows
  • take a class, look for a mentor, connect with other professionals – many experts in their field are generous and would love to help
  • in the beginning, focus on the action rather than results – actions, you can control; results, you can only influence

There are rewards to being an expert at something. But the things you gain, more importantly, who you become while on your way there will be even more rewarding!

To myself and to you: Do not be afraid to be a beginner.

What projects are you going to start this year?


Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash


How to Come Up with a Business Name

Branding, Business

There are a lot of ways to come up with a business name. There are no standards and definitely no limits. In this post, I will share with you my process in coming up with a business name that is in line with branding strategies.

Your Name as a Business Name

You can always use your name for your business name. Think of Hewlett-Packard, a company founded by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. Michael Dell founded Dell. McAffee was founded by John McAffee.

Today, there doesn’t seem to be many tech startups that follow the same step. It is usually non-tech companies, like law firms, that still do this – Saul Goodman & Associates for example.

If you like the sound of your name and have some sort of authority or credentials tied to it, then feel free to use it to name your company. While I don’t see anything wrong with my name, I just don’t like the sound of Cayabyab Design Agency.

Coming Up with a Business Name

If you are like me, you want your business name to be like that of Google, Facebook, Spotify, and other ‘hip’ big brands. While I am not sure how each of those companies came up with their ‘awesome’ business name, I know that the name itself is only awesome because the companies themselves are awesome. I guess what I’m trying to say is that even if you have a weird business name but the company behind it has tremendous value, then your business name would definitely be perceived as ‘awesome.’ Having said that, let me share how we came up with brand names such as Pixeptional, QuotySalad, and GattlingPun using the following method.


Brand names that were conceptualized using this method.

1. Write down all the words that relate to or would want to be related to your brand.

They could be characteristics, objects, feelings, colors, animals, absolutely anything at all. Write as many as you can.

For example, as a designer I want to have a brand that triggers delight. A brand that delivers something exceptional. I want it to be inspirational, both to consumers/clients and other designers.

My list of words would be something like: design, graphic design, graphics, drawings, icons, logo, illustration, pen tool, pencil, colors, sketch, colorful, modern, canvas, digital, paper, whiteboard, pixels, art, artistic, problem solver, photoshop, creative, visionary, motivational, fantastic, inspirational, exceptional, trustworthy, delivers, delightful, joy, industry-leading, hip, fun, and can-do.

2. Write a tagline, a catchphrase or a short pitch.

Write something that can be used to describe you. Clear, concise, and memorable is what you are going for. For example:

  • “providing valuable design insights”
  • “social awareness through design”
  • “making awesome a reality”
  • “your daily pixel-perfect fix”
  • “changing the world through typography”

Take this time to really think about your vision, the purpose of your business, the ‘why’ in creating the brand, or the value that you want to give. Note that this is something that you can change in the future as you learn more, as your business grows, or as you pivot.

3. Combine Words in Your List

Take two or three words from your list and combine them. Write all the good combinations. From my list above, we could come up with

  • Can-Do Design
  • Art Fantastic
  • Creative Hip
  • Fun Pencil
  • Motivational Pen Tool
  • Canvas Visionary

Remember that you don’t need to use the words as a whole. You can take part of the words and combine them with other words or part of those other words.

  • fantastic + pixels = Pixtastic, Fantaxel, Fixel
  • pencil + delightful = Pendelight, Pendeli, Delipen
  • hip + fun + colorful = Hifuco, Colorhip, Funcol, Funip, Colorfun, Funcohip
  • canvas + modern + art = Canmo, Artvas, Modart, Moart, Artcan, Artmod

You can play with the words and create new words out of your list. They don’t need to make sense. After all, you will be the one giving meaning to your business name.

  • creative = Creativ, Createev, Createevo
  • problem solver = ProSolvee, Blemosolv
  • whiteboard = Whibora, Witbor
  • pixel = Picksell, Pixool, Peexool, Xeli, Pxle

You can even extend this activity by using words from other languages. Other businesses also use words that are totally unrelated to their products or industry they are in – like Apple, Mint, and Shell.

Get inspiration from your day to day experiences. Take advantage of your life’s narrative. Who knows? Maybe in the future, your brand will be one of the popular case studies when it comes to good business names.

4. Connect the Business Names to the Taglines

By connecting all the business names with each and every tagline, you will have a higher level view of how you want your brand to be perceived.

  • Fantaxel – “Making awesome a reality.”
  • Pendelight – “Changing the world through typography.”
  • Hifuco – “Your daily pixel-perfect fix.”
  • Pixool – “Providing valuable design insights.”

Sometimes you will construct a tagline that you’ll absolutely love but not necessarily like any of the business names that you made or vice-versa. If that happens, repeat the activity with your chosen tagline or business name as a starting point in coming up with related words.

Note: All the business names listed above are fictitious and are for the sole purpose of giving examples. I did not do any research to check whether the names mentioned are actually being used today. Mention of existing business names are purely a coincidence. Feel free to use any of the examples in Step 3 if no one owns them.

Beyond Business Names

Do a quick google search of your new business name before proceeding with other branding activities. If your name is taken, run the steps again with this constraint in mind. You can add words relating to your differentiating factor, terms that you would want people to use when searching for you online, and keywords that similar brands or competitors use.

While you can always change your business name, it is better to have a good one right from the start. The sooner people get acquainted with your brand, the better. Rebranding in the future, while sometimes is necessary, can become costly economically and affect your goodwill.

You do not need to already have a business to do this exercise. You can come up with a brand name for your blog or website, or use it as a username for any of your social media accounts.

Share with us the business name you created using this method!