Naming Your Business

by Alisha Mobley

Like any aspect of starting a new business, deciding on the name of your business is something that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Although we as people try not to judge a book by its cover, people can (and do) judge a business by its name. The name you choose for your business can mean the difference between success and failure.

When it comes to selecting a name, it can be very helpful to write down your ideas rather than just thinking about them in your mind. So if you can, incorporate the use of your computer word processing program to make lists of your ideas. Or better yet, use good old fashioned pencil and paper.

First, consider the audience you are trying to reach with your business. Are you opening a clothing shop for children? If so, an appropriate name might be something catchy and cute, appealing to moms and even children. Such a name doesn't necessarily have to spell out what your business does in plain English.

On the other hand, if your business is in plumbing or lawn care, consider that consumers often seek such services when they have a small emergency or less time to deal with a task (which is why they are seeking outside services in the first place).

A cutesy name that doesn't state the nature of your business (i.e. Matt's Law Care or Southwest Plumbing Service) might actually turn a consumer away if he or she is seeking a specific professional service.

If you are stumped for professional names, consider incorporating your city name or location.

Once you have an idea of the audience you are trying to reach and the appropriate kind of name for your business, you can begin to consider the style of your business name.

How long do you want it to be? Are you creating a name that is unusual and unique, or are you looking to keep it simple and easy to remember?

Put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers and consider how you would feel if you were looking at your business name for the first time.

It takes only a little effort to avoid some common mistakes when naming your business. Look through your local phone book or yellow pages on the internet to ensure your business name isn't already being used by someone else in your area.

Again, consider your consumer audience and ask yourself if your business name is practical. Is it easy to remember? Is it unique? Does it specify the nature of your business?

The process of naming your business takes thought and creativity. Make a good effort and you are sure to be rewarded with a proper name that will bring you success.

Lisa's Notes

Here are a couple of thoughts I wanted add to expand on Alisha's post.

Be Careful With Local Names

If you are absolutely certain your business will remain local, and you will never move or expand your business outside of a specific area, then including your city in the name may be an option.

Similarly, if your city is well-known for something that is relevant to your business (for example, you make sea glass jewelry, and your location is renowned for its beautiful sea glass), or your customers are largely tourists, you might benefit from including a city name, or a word that ties your business to a particular location.

In many cases, though, including a city name could limit your growth, so do consider this carefully before you associate your business with one city in such a strong way.

Get Help With a Name Search

Most cities have some time of business development office. The actual name of the office will vary depending on where you live, but the function is the same - to help local business owners.

Beyond just looking online or in a phone book, your business development office should be able to point you to a more formal tool for doing a proper business name search.

Legalities vary from one location to another (and I am not a lawyer by any stretch of the imagination, so I won't be handing out any legal advice!), but choosing a business name that is already in use might be a source of problems for you. If you take the time to visit your business development office, do a proper name search, and ask them about the laws that govern business names in your area, you can avoid taking a name that is already in use, and save yourself a lot of potential hassle and headaches.

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