What should I call my business?

It can be hard work trying to come up with the perfect name for your business. Here are five quick tips from Business Foundations CEO Phil Kemp to help you avoid going astray.

Should you go with a pun? Should you get fancy with spelling? Should you name your new business after your first name, your last name — or your dog?

Picking a business name is as  important as naming a child as it will be with you for the rest of your (and its) life.

But many people try to be too clever by half with a name for your business.  Just try Googling ‘worst business names’ to see how it can get out of hand.

So here are my five quick tips to help you avoid going astray.

1. Read it really, really carefully.

It may seem like a great name to you but you would be amazed how many names end up sounding or looking rude on paper or when spaces are taken out in URLs. Things to consider include whether there is any potential sexual innuendo, whether there are spelling errors and whether it could be confused with something else. Cars Exchange might be a great name for your used car business but try running the words together to see the potential risks.

2. Look for something familiar but not too common.

You want your target customers to recognise your name once they have heard it and not get it confused with anyone else. That means finding a name that is not too long, not so common that it doesn’t stand out, and something they can easily spell first time around. (Is James’s Scooters going to be written with one ‘s’ in the URL or two or three?)  Avoid apostrophes – no one gets them right — and try not to limit your business to a particular place or location if you have any ambition to grow in the future. Also be wary of names that are a mash up of two words put together. Try Googling your name to see what comes up. If your restaurant is going to be called ‘Good Food Restaurant’ your customers will never be able to find you in the 361 million results that will yield.

3. Think about all the channels.

Before you race out to register your name or print business cards, look at whether you will be able to use your name online. That means seeing if you can register things like the .com address as well as the .com.au site, whether you can secure your business at .gmail.com, whether you can get the @yourbusiness on Twitter and user names on any other social platform of your choice.  If you can’t get these for the name you want, change the name as these things are no longer negotiable.

4. Check the legal use of your name.

Do a search for trade marks and other branded versions that are an exact match or close to your proposed name. You don’t want to end up in a legal stoush with an existing business that has the same name or where yours is close enough to confuse the same target market.  It’s a fight you don’t want and in the starting phase of establishing your business, it is an unnecessary distraction.

5. Claim it.

Once you have done all the above, don’t forget to register the name through the Australian Securities and Investments Commission — and consider trade marking it for protection against someone else coming along and trademarking it away from you. Good luck!