6 smart things to do BEFORE you choose a business name

Starting a business is exciting, but it can be hard to choose a business name.

There’s nothing quite like the fizz of ideas, the range of possibilities, the dreams of success when you first start a business. With so much to think about, taking time to get the right name for your new business is CRUCIAL. A name forms the bedrock of the business and helps position you for success.

So knowing that, here’s 6 things to consider when you want to choose a great business name for your start-up.

The Total Stranger Test

Ask yourself: Will someone who’s never heard of your business be able to work out what your service or product is, just from hearing the name alone?

People need context so they know where to go in their head in that split second after you mention your brand-new business’s name. Give them some direction with a business name that guides their thoughts down the right track.

Does the name contain keywords that are relevant to your industry or market sector? Have you chosen random words that means something to you and no-one else? This is when you need to consider what’s going through the reader or listener’s mind when they’re first introduced to your business concept.

For example, if you heard of a business called Kitchen Smart, you’d probably have a good idea their business has something to do with kitchens. What’s your initial impression of a biz named Pink Swann or A Single Step? It’s hard to know what those businesses do without any frame of reference. Context is key, and using descriptive keywords that are relevant to your industry make is easy for people to place your business in the right industry, FAST.

Ditch the alphabet soup

This is one of my pet hates. If you come and tell me you want to name your new business a generic name of random initials- hello, JFM Plumbing- expect some pushback from me.

Fair enough, those letters may mean something to YOU but unless they have meaning to your prospective clients, you’re creating a business name that’s totally forgettable and meaningless. And did I mention boring?

What differentiates your business from the rest of the businesses in your industry? Probably more than a few letters. But what truly differentiates K & M Mechanical from A & L Mechanical? We’ll never know. Get creative, take some time and think beyond throwing a few letters in front of your service or industry so you can choose a business name that resonates with your ideal client.

Brainstorm like crazy

Get a pen and paper and start writing down any idea that pops into your head. Nothing is off limits. Just get it all down on paper and don’t overthink it. It might be messy- the photo attached to this post is the actual page that I doodled all over as I was trying to choose my business name- but that’s just part of the creative process. See where it takes you.

After you have a full page of ideas, review them all, say them out loud and circle the ones that have some merit. Think about what you want people to feel when they hear your business name and see if your name is aligned with that emotion.

If the creative juices aren’t flowing or you get stuck, name generators can be a great place for some inspiration. You could try Namelix or Novanym.

Just make sure you follow the rest of the steps so your business name is truly unique.  

Ask Google

This is a super relevant consideration in today’s digital world.

Are people going to be able to spell your business name to type it into Google? Have you chosen spelling that makes sense to your average client? If people can’t spell or pronounce your business name confidently, they are less likely to use it which means you miss out on valuable word of mouth referrals.

Check to see if there are other businesses, products, organisations (or ADHD medications- true story) that have a name that is similar to yours. It’s worth checking mis-spelled variations of your business name or names that people may stumble across in case they mistake your business for theirs.

For example, Google the name of your local beauty salon and you may just find the name or website of an adult entertainer. (Sadly, another true story).

Check business name availability

Once you’ve got a short-list, research the wahoo out of your chosen names. This will often narrow the field for you automatically.

  • Check Google to see if you have competitors locally or internationally with a similar name or domain.
  • Check ASIC to see if there are other businesses with a name like yours and if it’s available to register within Australia.
  • Do an ABN check to see if there are other businesses with your name.
  • Check with your IP provider (I love VentraIP) to see if the domain (www.yourfabulousbusinessname.com) is available. While you’re at it, review the url to make sure there’s nothing that will read weirdly as one word all in lowercase.
  • Check social media platforms to see if the handles are available for consistency. You want to create a consistent, professional presence that’s the same on every platform, so check everything before you make your final decision.

The Rude Friend Consideration

Sense check your business name with that friend who’s cynical, sarcastic and maybe get accused of having their mind in the gutter.  This friend will be a lifesaver when it comes to identifying any cringe-worthy, offensive, shady connotations or possible acronyms that could potentially be associated with your business.

You know who that friend is… The one who would never let anyone name their campus the Central University of Northern Texas.

Make use of their insight and experience of jumping to conclusions and seeing the worst possible interpretation of something. This mate could save you a world of heartache and embarassment.

Extra points for a clever business name

If you can find an idea or a saying that links with what you do, and you can work that into your business name, you get ‘Aha!’ moments from people. Listen to what people are saying in your industry and see if you can find any common themes. This could give you a great head-start on connecting with your target market.

After pages and pages and pages of scribbled notes and weeks of consideration, I decided on The Marketing Side because people would often say to me ‘I’m fine with everything else in the business, but I need a bit of help with the marketing side of things’.  It made sense to use that colloquial saying and turn it into my business name. (And I gave myself bonus points for including the keyword marketing.)

It takes effort, energy and time to pick the right name for your business. But it can be fun and it’s 100% worth the time it takes to get it right.

I’d love to know if these tips made it easier for toy to choose a business name and if you have a tip I need to add. And if you’ve got a specific question? Book in for a Messaging Review so we can work through everything and get your set with crystal clear messaging for your business.

Next? Learn How to get your business visible on Google for FREE!