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How to Name Your Small Business

You’ve been developing a winning business idea for some time now. Not only do you have a strong vision for your company, but you also have many of the details planned out, too. You’ve almost reached the exciting stage where you can share this venture with your family, friends and customers. However, there’s still one important step to complete: Your company needs a name.

Whether a customer first sees your shop on Main Street or comes across it during an online search, the name of your business will be their first introduction of sorts. As much as we humans like to say we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, it’s only natural for people to feel attracted or repelled based on surface features like a name.

Even more importantly, though, your company name will also become synonymous with your brand. This means you want to put plenty of thought into what the name is conveying to the world before deciding.

Here are some helpful tips on how to name your small business.

Know Your State’s Naming Rules

Before you put hours into figuring out the perfect moniker for your small business, learn more about your state’s rules for registering business names.

As the U.S. Small Business Administration points out, many states only allow one entity to register for a certain name. Some states even have regulations stating the name must align with the type of company. Knowing these rules will help you avoid inadvertently trying to repeat a name that’s already in use or otherwise choosing a label that violates regulations in your state.

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Keep It Short and Sweet

There are a few reasons why it’s ultimately beneficial to keep your company’s name short and sweet. Logistically, it will be easier to turn it into a website, create your logo/sign and fit it on your business card (physical or digital). The strongest business name ideas also translate well across different formats — like physical print, ecommerce, verbal word-of-mouth.

A shorter name will almost always be punchier — which often means customers will have an easier time saying and remembering it. Avoid choosing a moniker that’s a mouthful.

Tie the Name to Your Offerings

What is your company really offering to the world?

Let’s use the example of a coffee shop here. The most basic answer is that a coffee shop provides beverages and café fare to customers. But think about the wide range of coffee shops in existence today. Some coffee shops provide ample seating, drawing in customers to sit and stay awhile; others strive to provide fast, convenient beverages to-go for customers in a hurry. Some coffee establishments offer relatively no-nonsense, affordable staples; others specialize in higher-end specialty products, like vegan donuts or complex lattes. Whatever the unique selling proposition of the coffee shop, a good business name will fit “the vibe.”

Much of naming a new small business is simply considering what your company is truly offering beyond just its product or services. How do you want your brand to appear to customers? Narrow down the primary adjectives you want to encapsulate your business, then start there when coming up with suitable names. As one expert writes for Inc., this helps customers “recognize and relate to” precisely whatever your company is trying to provide to people.

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Focus Group Potential Names with Others 

Ultimately, you are the only person who can decide on your company’s final name. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to test the waters along the way. Consider asking some trusted friends, colleagues, family members or even strangers about their thoughts and feelings on your shortlist of prospective titles. A name that seemed clear as day to you may even prove to be a point of confusion to a new set of eyes and ears.

It takes time and careful consideration to name your small business, but following these steps will help guide you toward the right choice on all accounts.