Creative Ways to Find a Catchy Business Name
Starting a business? One of the most important steps that you’ll take is choosing a business name. It’s not as easy as it sounds to do so, but it’s a critical decision. Your business name is the first impression people will have of your company, so it needs to be memorable and unique. You’ll need to get creative to find the best name for your business.
When you think about how big the internet is and how many businesses exist online alone, let alone local offline businesses, it’s difficult to think that you can come up with something unique. There are literally millions of businesses globally, so that means millions of names are already taken. You don’t want to choose a name that’s even similar to that of another business that could cause confusion.
Choosing a Business Name
There are many ways to generate a business name.
Your business name needs to communicate your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. Take some time to write down exactly what those things are for your company. What value are you trying to provide to your customers? This may spark some ideas. Brainstorm several name ideas, and make a list.
Then, take the list of names that you’ve come up with and talk to people about them. Ask your colleagues, friends, family, or other people what they think of your potential names and see if they have any suggestions. Ask them to think like a customer – what would communicate to them exactly what value you provide? What would get their attention? What would they remember?
You might be surprised what people with an outside perspective can come up with. You could even try getting a group of people together to share ideas. Show them the objectives, services, and mission that you wrote down. Put everything on a whiteboard if you have one and add their name suggestions to it.
At that point, you should have a lot of options to choose from.
Here are some tips for making a final decision:
• Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out. Think Google or Yahoo.
• Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better. Again, think Google or Yahoo.
• The name should be relevant to your product or service offerings. This seems obvious, but when you’re just starting out your name needs to say what you do.
• Including keywords that people might be searching for online when they want what you have to offer boosts SEO.
• Your name should allow for expansion. For example, “Jim’s Clothing” over “Jim’s T-Shirts”. You may want to add products or services eventually, so don’t pigeonhole your business with the name.
Make Sure the Name is Available
Once you have it narrowed down to a few names, you need to make sure they’re not already taken.
Check your secretary of state’s website to confirm they are available to register. You should also confirm that the name you want to register conforms to your state’s regulations on business names.
It’s also a good idea to check for nationally trademarked names, and check the availability of related domain names at a site such as GoDaddy.
You should also just do a Google search. You may find a company that’s using your name in another state or even internationally. You don’t want to be confused with another company, even online.
Then, once you make a final decision, you can reserve the name with your secretary of state. You can usually do so online, and sometimes a small fee is involved. You should also go ahead and purchase the domain name. After your form your business entity, you might also consider trademarking the name to protect it throughout the United States.
Select Your Business Structure
You need to decide what your company's business entity type will be and register your business with your chosen name. Here are the main options:
• Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return. You do not have to register your business with the state. With a sole proprietorship, your business name is your name, so you would need to register your chosen name as a “doing business as” or dba name.
• Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns. You usually do not have to register a partnership with the state. Your business name, again, will be the names of the partners.
• Corporation – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation. You must register your corporation with your state.
• Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts. You must register your LLC with your state.
• S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
Your business name is critical, so get creative but choose wisely. Your name will be the identity of your business for a long time. Make sure you get the opinions of others before you finalize your name by registering your business. You may think you’ve chosen a great name, but it has to also be great to the people who are going to buy from you.