So you've decided to embark on your own business, and you’re come to that crucial point of deciding on your business name. Now it can be tricky. I’ve been there several times myself, and I’ve made a few mistakes in naming businesses in the past. And I’ve seen a lot of people make mistakes when choosing a business name as well. So I’m going to give you my top 5 tips on helping to choose a business name. And hopefully that will help you to get the right name for you.
Tip #1: Don't use your name
So tip number one is don’t use your name or your initials. Don’t make it EJ Smith & Co or Bob’s Trucking Services or Ben’s Lawn Mowing Services. Try and keep away from using your name in the company name. Now the reason for that is because there’s only a couple of people that that excites, you and your mum, if you've got your name in the business name. It doesn't mean a lot to a lot of other people.
Tip #2: Do use your name
Now having said that, it can work quite well. This is one of those videos where I'm going to absolutely confuse you, I'm going to confuse myself I think. And that is, I said point one is don't use your name. Point two is use your name. Now if you’re going to use your name, make sure it’s done in the right way. Think of some of the world’s greatest businesses that have. Look at McDonalds. They've used their name. Okay? That was the McDonalds brothers. But when Ray Croc got involved, he didn't change it to McDonalds and Croc and Co.
Also if you are going to use names and you’re in a business partnership, I would advise you not to use the partnerships names. Try and combine them to something clever, or don't use them all. Because if your partnership does fall apart down the track, and this does happen. I know when it’s the honeymoon phase and you say, “But Ben, that’s never going to happen.” But it does happen. So if you’re going to use names and it’s a partnership, very few times has that worked out. And when it has worked out, something like Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream for example, I'm not sure whether Ben and Jerry are real people or not, I don't know. But sometimes it can work, but rarely. And if your partnership does split up… and just say you were starting off your ice cream business and it was called Ben and Jerry’s, and I'm Ben and you’re Jerry. And we get six months down the track and you get really pissed off with me and you go, “Ben, I’m out of this business.” Then what am I going to call it? Ben and hmmm... Still going to call it Ben and Jerry. And every time I tell someone the name of my company I'm going to (ugh), it’s not going to sit well with me. So be really careful about how you name your business when you’re thinking about names.
Now having said all of that, it can work quite well. You could use a family name, for example. I won’t go through naming a bunch of companies, but you can go to Google and you'll see a stack to them. Sometimes using a family name can work if it’s a family business. But more than anything, I’d rather steer clear of family names, steer clear of using your own name, definitely steer clear of partnership names, and definitely steer clear of initials. They mean nothing to nobody but you.
Tip #3: Make it relevant
That brings me to tip number three, and that is make it relatable, make it relevant. If you’re going to create a business name, make it so it means something to somebody. This is even more important in this day and age than it has been before. And the reason for that is that in the old days, you’d come up with your business name, you’d put it on a business card or you'd put it in the yellow pages or advertise in the paper or you’d advertise on the radio. Now when people are looking for a business, 80% of the time they’re not going to those mediums. What they’re doing is they’re getting their fingers and they’re typing into Google. And they’re typing in the service they’re looking for.
So for example, I'm looking for jumping castles for a kid’s party. I'm going to type in ‘jumping castles’ and I might put my suburb in as well. I might put ‘Hills District Jumping Castles.’ Now if my company name is Hills District Jumping Castles, guess what’s going to come up on the top in Google? Because I'm going to have the domain name, I'm going to have the business name, I'm going to have a website that’s plastered with those words. Everyone that’s ever written about me, testimonial-wise on any of those sites where they can use feedback and going use my company name. So all of a sudden my company name is benefiting me in Google search results. And so if we’re choosing a company name for a business in this day and age, you’ve got that luxury of being able to choose something that’s relevant and something that’s relatable so when somebody does a search on Google, you’ve got a better chance of coming up.
Tip #4: Check with Google
Now on that note, once you've come up with a company name, Google it and just see what comes up. A funny story. My business partner decided to start another company. I said, “Come up with some company names.” He picked a company name, we Googled it, and the definition of the word that we’d made up was a bowl that you smoke marijuana out of. Now that definitely didn't suit the values or the vision of the company we wanted to create. So we quickly said, “No, we’re not going with that company name, we’re going with something else.” And we changed the name so it now means a wise owl, Bizow, a wise business advisor. But before that we had Bizowl, and when we Googled it we came up with stuff about marijuana.
So you want to be very careful about the name that you pick, and do a Google search just to see what comes up. Even if the business name is available, doesn't mean it’s a name that you’re going to want once you Google it. So do that. On that note, check that the domains are available, and which ones are available. You might find that the .com aren’t available, but the .com.au is available. But the .com might be a competitor to you. So you don’t want to have the risk, the same domain name, or buy the .au. If they can jump onto the .com and buy the same product or service that you sell, then that can be risky. I would come up with a different name. So when it comes to being relatable and being relevant, checking the domain online, doing a Google search and all of that will just protect you a little bit from getting a name that’s going to hurt you down the track.
Tip #5: Ask people
Now my fifth tip is a very scientific approach to checking out the response or people’s reactions to the name. And that is, tell at least ten people what you’re thinking of for this name and see what they say. Remember, the people that you bump into on the street, your friends, your family, I’d probably steer clear of your friends and family. Ask people that you hardly know. You can even do a survey on something like Facebook these days, and pay for a couple hundred dollars worth of Facebook advertising to get a bit of feedback on your company name. It’s that simple these days to get feedback.
But I would ask at least ten people what they think before I’d go and register anything. But I wouldn't take everything they say as gospel. If they say they don’t like it, one person says they hate it, I'm not going to take that as being a decision-making, pivotal point of my decision making. I'm certainly going to take that feedback and as myself why. If all ten people said, “That name really sucks Ben,” I just wouldn't do it. If five said it really sucks I wouldn't do it. So just ask people for feedback.
Hopefully that has helped pick a Business Name and you find a business name that works for you
About the Author
Ben Fewtrell is a sought-after Business Coach, Keynote Speaker and trainer who has featured in Virgin’s Inflight Magazine and Entertainment Portal, SKY Business and “Secrets of Top Business Builders Exposed”. He is also the host of the popular Business Brain Food Podcast where he interviews leading experts on anything and everything business.