One of the most important things you can do when starting a business is to thoroughly research your business name. It will be on all your advertising, legal documents and equipment. It’s how people will find you, rate you and pay you. And in the event that you do choose a name and later regret it, it can be an absolute nightmare to change it. So, start off right and devote some time to making sure the business name you’ve chosen is one you won’t regret.
Once you have a list of potential business names, do a thorough internet search, keeping these things in mind:
Does Someone Else Already Use the Name?
Obviously, if a business with the name already exists, it might not be a good one to use. You want your name to be unique enough that customers can find you when they do a Google search. If “Dave Can Fix It” is already at the top of the search results for an electrician in Texas, it can be very difficult for you to get any traction on Google with that name, even if you’re located in Delaware. If you’re set on a name that’s used somewhere else, consider adapting it by adding the city or state where you’re located.
It might be difficult to find a completely unique name, but as long as customers can find you online and know that you’re the business they’re looking for, the name will probably work just fine.
Is There a Similar Name That Pops Up That You Don’t Want to be Associated With?
Be careful, even if your exact business name isn’t taken, that the first page of Google results and images doesn’t bring up anything that concerns you. If you’re considering “Renovations by Mac,” but “Max Renovates” in the next state over was just caught swindling customers out of thousands, you might want to rethink your new business’s name. The internet never forgets. Even though the name isn’t exactly the same, if customers see something questionable when they search for you, they may get confused or write you off before giving you a chance.
Similarly, if a business with a very similar name comes up, see if they have reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. If someone is consistently getting bad reviews, you might want to avoid having a similar name. There’s a chance that your customers will get mixed up and think you have bad reviews, or worse, that the other business’s customers will accidentally find your business and leave you a terrible rating.
Are the URL and Social Media Available?
This is a little bit less of a big deal, but you want your website to be easy to find and remember, and using the business name is the best way to fit both criteria. Just type YourBusinessName.com into a search bar and see what comes up. If the URL isn’t available, you could try a few variations (such as adding your city’s name or using .biz) and see if you find something that’s not taken.
It’s also a good idea to search the name on Facebook if you plan to use social media in any way (you should have a Facebook business page at the very least). See if a similar business has the Facebook business page you would want to use and look for variations if necessary. Facebook is an increasingly popular platform to market businesses, so making sure the page name is available and grabbing it as soon as you can will help you start off strong, even if you don’t plan to use it for a while.
Do you Have Legal Rights to the Name?
Once you’ve got a name that will give you good online traction and not bring up anything to worry your customers, you’ll want to ensure you’re all set on the legal front. Do a Google search for “secretary of state [Your State] business search” to find the business name database in your state. You might have to click through a few pages, but this is where you can find out if a name is already registered in your state.
You’ll also want to search the U.S. Patent and Trademark website for the name. Even if the name is taken, you may still be able to use it if it’s in a different state and industry.
The Bottom Line
Naming your business is important, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to ensure the name you’ve chosen will work well for you. The Internet has made this incredibly easy, so take advantage of the resources available and be certain you have a name you’ll be proud to use!
How did you decide what to name your business? Have you heard any horror stories about a business that didn’t think through their name before registering it? We’d love to hear in the comments!