Ideas for Choosing a Great Small Business Name

Your business name is the most immediate and enduring advertisement for your business. It will become, in time, the marker of your business’s success, as satisfied customers recognize it and speak about it to others. In this way, it is gold standard currency, priceless if it is passed around and spoken of in positive terms. Choosing the right small business name requires creativity and careful market research. It also needs to be protected: once you have a name there are administrative processes to follow that will ensure it remains your property, and cannot be used by other business. In this article we will suggest a few sure-fire ways that will help you make the process of choosing a winning small business name a success!

Before you decide on a business name, be sure you’ve decided what your brand identity is. Your business name should reflect this identity with clarity. It shouldn’t mislead potential clients about your products and services, or clash with anything you offer. A well formulated brand identity will serve as a helpful bedrock for the process of choosing the business name.

Here are our top tips for choosing your small business name:

1 – Know Thyself!

A brand new computer startup company can risk an edgy or interesting sounding name.  Youngsters following the Silicon Valley motto of ‘move fast and break things’ will not be worried about the raised eyebrows of more conservative customers. Companies in financial services or consulting, however, often end up paying a great deal of money to ascertain that the name they choose doesn’t offend anyone. They want boring and acceptable, where a startup might want exciting and intriguing. This is where you need to be clear about what your company wants to sound like in the world: what note it wants to hit. The name you choose will be that note, and to find the right one you need to be absolutely clear about what your company is, and what it will offer customers.

Write down a list of ideas about what your company wants to be, and what services or products it wants to offer.  Write out a business plan with the aid of one of the many great services offering help with this on the internet.  Think carefully about what the unique selling position of your company is and articulate it to friends, family and associates until it simply glides off your tongue with confidence.

By relentlessly developing and honing the concept behind your business, you will find it suddenly much easier to decide on a name that genuinely connects to the products or services you offer.

2 – Sweat the Little Things

Once you’ve done the big thinking about the concept behind your business, you need to turn to the little things. These can be just as important in deciding on the right name for your small business. Pronunciation is one of these. Do you want your company name to be quick and easy to pronounce, or would you rather risk a longer and more complicated name if it sounds weightier and more authoritative? QuickyCleaning is catchy for a company offering cleaning services to students, but Tungston Cleaning Services would work better amongst the broader population who might not appreciate the joke. In fact, avoid pitfalls such as puns, which might seem funny at the time but can often result in your company sounding like a high school joke. Be very careful about copyright: check and recheck that you aren’t inadvertently copying the name of another company, especially if that company is a competitor.  Finally, think about your competition. What kinds of names are popular in your business, and do you want to sound similar to these or to choose something completely different that makes you stand out.

3 – Brainstorm it!

You’ve honed your business concept, you’ve written out a business plan, you’ve checked all the little details that are relevant to your small business name, now it is time to open up the process and give it some creative energy. Bring in colleagues, friends and family and brainstorm names together. Make it fun, with food and drink, and don’t do it just once. Two or three brainstorming sessions can bring out real flair, as people hone and sculpt their ideas. This will also be a chance to create some real camaraderie within your small business team, and help everyone feel part of the process. That can only bode well for the future success of your small business!

4 – Be Patient

Once you have a list of finalists for the name of your small business, take some time to let the various options percolate. What might sound like a great name after a long night of brainstorming might not in fact be your best option, and your ‘sleeper’ names, further down the list, might in the light of day, and with cold consideration, be more appropriate. Don’t rush the decision: the name of your business is one of the primary decisions you will make and should be seriously and carefully weighed and decided upon. 

5 – Register It

This is certainly not the most fun part of the job, but it is essential to ensuring the validity and legality of your small business name. Through this process you will also get the chance to make sure you haven’t inadvertently copied another trademarked name. The process of registering is technical and requires some patience and research.

For example, a limited liability company or a corporation or a limited partnership in the U.S., has to register with the authorities of the state in which the business operates. When registering your business, you will also then register your small business name. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships don’t necessarily require state registration. Instead, registration is usually done through the county or city where your business runs from. Sole proprietors have the option of filing a ‘doing business as’ (DBA), which frees you up to operate your business under a different name to your own legal name.  DBA’s can be registered with your state or county clerk.

Remember, your name is the handshake you’re sending out into the world, so make sure it’s strong and memorable!

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