So you've started writing your business plan and have at least a hazy idea of what your business is going to look like. Do you hate writing yet? Good. Keep going. Write at least until you can get a clear picture of your business through squinted eyes, or you want to bang your head against your desk, whatever comes last. About there? Perfect. Let's take a break and do something fun.
Time to give 'er a name!
Surprise, surprise, it, along with the majority of this process, may not be a walk in the park. In my opinion, it really shouldn't be. Naming a business is important. It makes the process more real, helps you talk about your upcoming venture to people that matter, and helps decide on the tone of the business moving forward. There's a lot to consider, and it's not an easy thing to change once you've decided on it (and most likely spent money on logos and branding). So take this time to name your business right.
When choosing a name, consider the following factors and how they'll affect your business both now, and in the future:
Think carefully, but not too hard: Make sure you're covering all of your bases when you're thinking about your name. Brainstorm a couple of different times, ask a few friends, write it down like when you were practicing your signature in grade school. Allow yourself time to "sit" with your name to see if it still feels right after a few days. However, if a business name just comes to you and it's perfect, maybe it's just meant to be. Prepare to think long and hard about a name, but if one just automatically "feels" right, use it, don't sweat it and consider it a gift from the business Gods.
Remember: Google wasn't a thing before Google was a thing. Before Google used the word "Google," it wasn't a term many people knew. The word is just a creative spelling of a math term (meaning an unfathomable number) that has become one of the most powerful words in the world. If your business name sounds silly or doesn't have a meaning don't worry about people thinking it's weird- it's your job to define it and inject value into it, so it can be whatever you make it.
Consider your personality: If you have a super fun, budget-friendly dog grooming company and you want your customers to know that from the get-go, Doggy Elegance or Elite Pet Grooming may not be the best names for your business. Make sure that your business name fits your business personality, so people begin to understand your services they second they hear your name. A business name that doesn't line up with your business concept can make your concept muddy and hard for consumers to understand.
Spelling: Be wary of "super-cool" spelling decisions. It may seem fun to spell your business name with no vowels or with 3 Q's, but if you don't have the marketing budget to make sure your customers know how to find you, it's not worth the hipster points.
ABC's: If your business is typically still found by alphabetical listings (such as a plumber or painter) consider starting your business name with a letter higher up the in the alphabet. Alpha Construction may fair better than Tellum Brother's Construction only because the listing is at the top of the page.
Local or national: Think about your product or service. If you provide local services only (e.g. a Brooklyn, NY hair stylist), it would be in your best interest to add that information somewhere into your name (Brooklyn Do's) or web address (ChicBoutiqueBrooklyn.com), as this makes it easier for people to find you. If you're selling your product or service nationwide, your location isn't as important.
Check it out: Now that you have an idea, it's time to make sure that no one else had the idea before you. Google your proposed name, your city, and your industry in as many ways as you can think of. Do a Facebook search and check social media for available usernames that you may want. Finally, go to a site like GoDaddy.com and check to see if your preferred domain name is available. This whole process is crucial to make sure that the name isn't already taken or has some sort of unfavorable connotation that you weren't aware of.
How does it look: Make sure that your business name doesn't look weird when it's turned into a domain name. Not sure what I mean? Click here for some seriously bad domain names: http://www.boredpanda.com/worst-domain-names/
Register: Typically, business names and types need to be registered with the state you live in. You can do a search on your state's website to make sure no one else in your state has your business name. If they do, you can either change your business name slightly (Pick Your Poison Marketing to Pick Your Poison Consulting) or use a DBA (doing business as) name (Nicolette Spudic, DBA Pick Your Poison Consulting). Some of these aspects are up to the structure of your business, and they all require forms and fees- all which I'll get into with my next post. Either way, these names are more for tax purposes and not branding purposes so if they're not exactly perfect, its ok. It's simply essential that your business is properly registered with the state.
Hopefully, these tips will give you the tools to properly choose a name that fits your business and provides you with years of success. Now get to work! Stay tuned for next week's post about some legal and accounting-related topics which will most likey be much less fun to do than naming your business (but oh, so necessary).