“What is your name?” is one of the easiest questions ever to answer. So why do some entrepreneurs struggle with how to name a business?

A business name can help guide your business’ logo, branding, and other marketing strategies. Here are six tips to help you answer the question: “How do I choose a business name?”

  1. Skip names with tricky spellings. 

Avoid as much confusion as possible, especially when it comes to choosing a business name. Phrank’s Phabulous Photos is cute but it might lead to confusion when customers are trying to find your business online.

  1. Don’t limit your business.

Try to not limit your business name to a specific product or city. A name that’s too specific could make it more difficult to grow your business into selling more than one product. Similarly, if you have an online business that sells products or services customers can buy from anywhere, a city-based name might give the wrong idea that customers have to live in that city.

  1. Get advice and feedback when choosing a business name.

Try to make a list of five-to-10 possible names for your business. Then mention this list of names to family members, friends, potential customers, etc.

Pay attention to people’s responses, especially any mention of possible negative associations with any of your potential business names.

  1. Do your (online) homework when choosing a business name.

Once you have a shortened list of possible business names, do a thorough internet search for these names. There’s a good chance that somebody is already using at least one or two of these names. Knowing this information can help guide your decision to keep a name, slightly change it, or come up with a completely different name.

Your choice of a name might be affected by whether there is a similarly named business in your area. (Besides googling, you can check with the Secretary of State’s office in your state; this website offers links to Secretary of State offices in all 50 states.)

Your choice might also be affected by whether or not the domain name is free (since you will most likely want to create a website). You can check the domain name’s availability on GoDaddy.com. Keep in mind, though, that just because the domain for the business name you have in mind is taken, that doesn’t mean you have to choose a different name — for example, if you want to name your business Molly’s Lemonade Stand and MollysLemonadeStand.com is taken, you could name your website MollysLemonadeStand.net or perhaps MollyMakesLemonade.com.

  1. Make it official online.

After you choose a business name, try to obtain a domain name. Do this even if you have not even begun to organize the business — you want to get the domain name before someone else takes it. A “.com”  name is preferable in the U.S. because most people assume that will be part of your name, but .net will also work. In fact, you don’t have to use either – there are many domain extension (or “top-level domain”) options available, including .us, .biz, .info, and thousands more, plus ones for every country.

You will often send people directly to your website through links in emails, social media, blogs, etc., so potential customers often won’t even have to know or type in your website’s domain name.

Also, use your business name on social media sites such as Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook. You can also put a link to your business’ website at the bottom of your email.

  1. Do a trademark search when choosing a business name.

Search your business’ name at USPTO.gov (the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s site) to see if you can get a trademark or service mark for the name.

Final thoughts on how do I choose a business name

Choosing a great business name takes some time and work. But the effort is definitely worth it since it can save your customers from confusion and save you from some possible legal troubles.

Keep these suggestions in mind for choosing a business name when starting a business:

  • Avoid names with weird spellings.
  • Don’t put too many limits on your business name.
  • Get feedback from others.
  • Do online research.
  • Create your online presence.
  • Do a trademark search.

These tips will give your business a great name that’s liked by you and your customer

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

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