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How to Choose a Business Name

You would be surprised how many entrepreneurs and small business operators delay getting their concepts off the ground because they are stuck on a business name. On the surface, there is a lot of pressure! Your business name needs to be brand-able, it needs to be practical, it can’t be ambiguous, and the hardest one… it has to be unique!

Not having a business name is no excuse not to begin work. There is plenty of consumer research to be done, as well as financial planning and many areas of development that your nameless business will not hold you back from. During this phase, you may be lucky enough that your business name just comes to you! If you’re really stuck, there’s a process of elimination that may help you discover a business name that will tick all the boxes.

What do I need to do?

The hardest part of finding your business name is finding something unique. The last thing you want is to have laboured over your business name, only to get to the point of registration and find that it has already been taken. Grr! As you start coming closer to some ideas you like, bookmark the ASIC website to check registered Australian business names. The ASIC website will also show business names with similarities that are close to your own.

A domain name check will also be required, given that you will want to have an online presence. Use a domain registry such TPP Internet to check whether your business name has a registered domain name. If your domain name has been taken, don’t be disappointed, there are some things you can do here. In rare cases, you may be able to purchase parked domain names if the owner wishes to sell, however if you are a startup, this will most likely cost money that you don’t have. You can also follow the trend of altering your business name to be more ‘Web 2.0’ by dropping a vowel or miss-spelling a ‘real’ word. An example of this would be websites like ‘Scribd’ (scribed) or ’Tumblr’ (tumbler) or ‘Flickr’ (flicker). Possibly the most famous example of a miss-spelled name would be Google, (derived from googol, which is the equivalent of ten raised to the power of 100, or 1 followed by 100 zeros). This is a business name that has become so famous, the word Google is now recognised as a verb meaning “to search for within the Google search engine”!

I’m really stuck!

If you are really stuck and have no idea where to begin, try some keyword research to get you started. You may have already done this while exploring the market potential for your business. Google’s keyword research tool also offers similar suggestions. You can perform keyword research around the term ‘Accountant Sydney’ to generate related terms that can spark new ideas and yet still remain relevant to your business. The added benefit to a business name inspired by keyword research is that it has an SEO value of a domain name that captures consumer search trends and is more likely to rank higher in search engines, especially at the startup phase.

Hot Tip

Once you have your shortlist of business names, don’t forget to ask for feedback. What may seem perfectly obvious to one person may be confusing for others. And don’t panic! Your best ideas will come when you are calm and relaxed.