16 Nov, 2011
You name it! Top tips for naming your business by Bev James
“Groucho isn’t my real name. I’m just breaking it in for a friend.” - Julius ‘Groucho’ Marx
I have seen countless coaches get to the exciting stage of naming their business only find the process of registering the name drives them crazy.
Having named several companies myself, I know the feeling, and understand exactly how frustrating it can be. Just when you come up with the perfect name, you ‘Google it’ to find that another coach is using it already; or trawl through the Companies House database to find another company has already submitted it for registration.
My heart sank. Who could have bought them? What sort of business were they running? Could I persuade them to sell them to me? Those and other less charitable thoughts went through my mind as I delved further.
I looked up the name of the owner … only to find it was me! I had brought them a few years previously when I set up Elements Consulting, my first coaching business, but had forgotten about them. The relief was immense – and it was a real wake-up call.
Web domain names are so valuable that they are being bought-up speculatively these days – so whatever stage you are at in your business planning, don’t delay. No matter what name you eventually choose for your business, if your own name is available, buy it now if you can.
TOP TIPS FOR CHOOSING A NAME FOR YOUR BUSINESS
The two most common mistakes that people make when choosing a name:
• Trying to be too cryptic or clever. If you have to explain how to spell the name or what it means every time you speak to someone – forget it.
• Using unusual spelling to be different. People may forget the spelling and find it difficult to find you online; or worse, mis-spell it and stumble upon of your competitors by mistake.
It is also wise to avoid using words that will date, may cause offence or have regional or UK spelling.
Things to ask yourself when choosing a name:
• Is it memorable?
• Is it easy to spell?
• Does the name tell people what you do? e.g. Life Coaching for Change
• Does it give out a message that will limit future development? e.g. The Brighton Coach (not much use if you move to Inverness, or could be mistaken for a transport hire company.) You get the idea.
Decide on your name and get if registered before ordering business cards and stationery, to avoid unnecessary disappointment and expense.
Consider using your own name as the business name – especially if you already have an established reputation. It has worked well for self-improvement gurus such as Tony Robbins and Brian Tracy. It also increases the chance of your name being remembered when people make personal recommendations – and improves the chances of your name being returned in Google searches.
Register your name – Once you have chosen your name, check to see whether the domain is available. Just Google “UK Domain registration” for a full list, or contact Nominet, which manages .uk domain name registrations.
If you are a limited company check out the Companies House website to make sure the name is available. You can use different names for trading and registration.
There are legal guidelines surrounding the use of words such as ‘Limited’, ‘Associates’, ‘Partners’, ‘Trust’, etc.
Certain ‘sensitive words and expressions’ need permission and proof for use if they:
• Suggest your business is of national or international importance (such as British, International, Olympic etc)
• Imply special status or authority (such as Association)
• Describe a particular function (such as Charity or Trust)
• Suggest a connection with government (such as Agency) or the Royal family (such as Royal)
• Imply professional status (such as Chartered, Registered, etc.)
There are also legal guidelines about Trademark infringement and passing off. Again, Companies House offers clear guidelines and advice. Business Link also offers useful information via their website.
Tell the world you exist – once you have decided on your company name and have registered it (but not before!), get the word out via as many routes as you have available. Don’t be shy. Use Twitter, LinkedIn, email and every other avenue of business communication.
The more often others mention you and eventually link to you, the more likely you are to be found and recommended.
TOP TIP: Even if you don’t plan to use your own name for your business, make sure you own the domain. Buy the .com and .co.uk if they are available and I suggest you DO IT! today.
Bev is CEO of The Academy Group which includes The Entrepreneurs’ Business Academy (EBA) & EBA for Coaches which are both joint ventures with James Caan. Her book “Do It! or Ditch It” has already been listed as a bestselling business title and she is ready to pass on her success to your organisation.
Connect with Bev on Google+