Naming your business can be a bit like naming a band. We all know how important it is, but sometimes our excitement can get the better of us. And while a name isn’t everything, let’s face it: some names are simply better than others.

To make sure your business name is working for you, and not against you, try keeping these five tips in mind:

Be specific

Unless you’re naming the latest line from Subaru, or a modern housing estate (Calm Springs), you want your customer to know exactly what they are dealing with. Particularly for SME owners, it’s important to be bold and specific with your purpose – a clear no-nonsense name is the perfect start. If you sell office supplies, don’t try to be too clever. Use the word ‘office’ or ‘supplies’ (or both) in your business name, and let the customer know you’ve got the goods.

Say it aloud

Want to know if you have a good business name? Say it aloud. Then say it another hundred times, to friends and colleagues and family. If it still sounds okay, then you might be onto something. With good marketing, your business name will be read out on radio and television; you’ll say in interviews and press releases. You want a name that sounds as good as it looks; the first and thousandth time you say it.

Always an eye to your exit

You may have read recently of Samantha Wills’ recent decision to close down her jewellery brand. When people asked about her exit strategy, she responded, ‘…to be honest, if I had named the brand anything other than Samantha Wills, I would have one.’ Fortunately for Samantha, when your brand is bringing in $10 million every year, exit strategies can suddenly pop up out of thin air. For the rest of us, it’s a good idea to consider a name that has potential for future investors or purchasers.

Plan for the long-term

As with Samantha Wills’ exit strategy, there are many ways that we can hamstring ourselves and our business in a name. Don’t limit how large your business can grow by naming it small. Specific is good, but ‘Paper, Stickytape & Pencils on the corner of Jones & Brown Sts’ doesn’t really leave much room for expansion (or an office move). Take a moment to entertain your business’ wildest dreams, then think about what name would go next to it. Can it work as a verb (can it Tweet, Snapchat, or LinkedIn)? It might seem silly at first, but it never hurts to raise your ceiling at the outset.

Simple works

The last thing you want is for a potential customer to spend 20 minutes trying to remember if your business is spelled with a ‘4’ or a ‘for’. Keep your spelling, concept and punctuation simple. It’s also worth considering what your business might look like as a domain name: ‘teacherstalking.org’ or ‘whorepresents.com’ are just two examples of how a name when turned into a domain might come back to bite you.

A little more on your exit strategy

A good name won’t just help your business to survive and thrive; it can make your business more appealing to potential investors. We’ve already seen how an eponymous business can close off a whole list of exits. Even if you plan on keeping your business in the family: things change.

Where to from here?

Consider a name that captures the open-ended core of your business. This ensures that your business name is able to adapt not only to internal growth but to changes in technology and culture at large; ‘Paper, Stickytape and Pencils’ might not even be around in 20 years time! Simple, specific and a little far-sighted, a good name can go a long way.

So that’s your business name sorted! If you’re starting a business, it’s always best to get started as you mean to go on and in a way that’s not going to get you in trouble with the ATO, ASIC or a host of other folks. So if you’d like to have a chat about how else you can plan for the long-term success of your business we’d be delighted to discuss it with you. You can give us a call on 02 6023 1700 or drop us a note via the form below.

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If you've got financial or business questions, or you just want to run something by us, we'd be delighted to really talk to you – in person, over the phone - call us on 02 6023 1700 - or you can use the form below and we'll get back to you.

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Kerry Lloyd

Tanya Joss