Have you struggled with how to name your small business? Pull up a chair, because I’ve got a story for you. I’m currently working with a client on naming her small business. During our first meeting, we got so excited – we had found the perfect name for her business! I gave her the contact information for my attorney so the name could be thoroughly doublechecked for existing trademarks, on social media, and in domain registries.
It was taken.
I came up with another perfect name. Taken.
We’re on round four now, because every time we settle on a name and agree it’s great, a quick search on the Internet squashes the name. Taken, taken, taken.
Naming a business used to be fairly easy. Pick a name, ask your attorney to conduct a search to make sure no one else in your industry was using it, and off you go.
Once the Internet came along, the entire process changed. Now you have to check social media and domain registries, too. A lot of domain names were purchased but are not being actively used. However, for a hefty price (tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars), the domain name can be yours. I don’t know many small businesses that can afford shelling out $50,000 for a domain name to the person who purchased it 10 years ago!
Based on my experience, here is how to name your business, secure a domain, and find that sometimes elusive needle in a haystack:
Work with an attorney
As the recent experience with my client proves, you must have several options and be flexible, creative, and open-minded. Don’t announce the name of your small business until your attorney does a thorough search and clears the name.
Play with spelling
Taking liberties with spelling is typical in the tech startup world, as these companies want unique names that will stand out in a sea of competitors. There is no reason your small business can’t change the spelling of nickel to nickl or dime to dym. A word of caution: Only go this route if funky spelling will resonate with your target market.
Combine two words to create a “new” word
Putting two words together to create a new one is a very creative solution to finding the perfect business name, as it can really describe what your business is about. LeapFrog creates educational games for kids. Wintergreen is a ski resort in Virginia. Starburst is a line of candy. If you go this route, create columns for words that describe your business – nouns, adjectives, verbs – and start combining them.
Make up a new name
Starbucks, Verizon, and Haagen Dazs are made-up names that don’t describe company products or services yet are completely familiar to consumers. The only problem with made up names is the level of education you might have to undertake to ensure your customers understand what you do. If you’re up for the challenge, go for it!
Try different domain extensions
The domain extension is the dot-something that follows your website name. They include .com, .org, .co, .us., .net – and a zillion other possibilities like .be, .fit, and .golf.
What was/is the hardest part of naming your small business?
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