3 Rules for How to Name Your Small Business

If you’re wondering how to name a small business, or if there are specific dos and don’ts then you’re in the right place. While deciding on a business name is a personal decision, there are some best practices to be aware of now to help you avoid problems later.

How to name your small business 

Chances are you already have a few ideas for what you want to name your business. You want to select a good name, one that connects with your brand and clearly reflects the product or service you offer. While this can feel like an overwhelming task at the outset, these three tips for how to name your small business will help you choose a great business name for your new company. 

1. Brainstorm name ideas that represent your brand and business

Begin by making a list of every name you can think of. Add descriptors and keywords related to your product, service or industry even if they don’t sound like a business name. You never know what will inspire a new idea.

If you’re stuck, try using a free service like Business Name Generator. All you need to do is enter keywords and it will generate business name ideas for you to consider. 

Once you have a list of ideas then start whittling them down. Cross out anything that could be confusing, difficult to pronounce or spell, misunderstood or mistaken for a different company. 

2. Find out if your business name is already taken 

There are a number of reasons you don’t want to use a business name if it’s already taken. For starters, it’s just plain confusing for customers and it will make marketing difficult. But more importantly, this could get you into legal trouble. In many countries, your business name must be different from existing corporate names or trademarks. 

Here are a few tips for figuring out if you can use your idea for your company name.

Conduct an Internet search

Doing an Internet search for your business name idea is a great way to start this process. Pay attention to what comes up and if there are already businesses or websites with this exact name, as well as similar names.

Search your local name database

Depending on where you live, there will a local, regional or national database for business names. While the process of searching varies depending on where you live, you won’t be able to register your business name in your area if there is already a business using that name so this is an important step. 

Make sure your domain and social media handles are available

In an ideal situation, you’ll be able to secure the .com domain name as well as social media handles using the same business name. Having a short name will benefit you a lot when deciding on social media handles.

There are many ways to check if a domain is available. Here are a few suggestions:

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names (InterNic) provides an easy search for domain names in their accredited registrar directory

• Sites such as GoDaddy.com or NetworkSolutions.com will show you which domains are available

Namecheckr allows you to search your brand name across domains and social networks so you can see what’s available and what’s taken

3. Register your business name or trademark

Depending on the country, companies may have to register their business name with the government. The registration rules vary depending on where you live and what type of business structure you’ve decided to operate under so make sure to research whether or not you are required to register your name with your local State or Province.

You may also wish to register a trademark, which adds an extra layer of protection. To begin the process in the U.S., go through the step-by-step instructions through the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Bonus tip: Secure a business address

As a new small business, you may not require a physical office space but still wish to offer a professional experience to your customers by using a virtual office space or a conference and meeting room for when clients are in town.

Now that you understand how to name your small business you can also see the headache it will cause if you decide to change your name down the road. This is possible, of course, but there is a lot of administration to consider. Therefore, choosing a good business name from the outset will serve you, your business and your customers for years to come.


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