You’re all excited about your new business venture and it’s finally time to turn your business dreams and ideas into reality. Before you can get started with any sort of marketing, or even think about getting a logo designed, you need to nail the business name for your new venture.
For many people, coming up with their new business idea is the easy bit. Finding the perfect business name can be a little more tricky.
Use some creative thinking, and apply some of these techniques, and you should end up with a nice big pool of names to pick and choose from. Domain name availability will probably have the biggest impact on your decision, but at least by doing this exercise you should end up with a number of workable alternatives.
Step 1: Brainstorm all of the words!
This exercise doesn’t need to take long, but just make sure it’s focused. Set aside some time, grab some paper and pens (or your laptop) and clear some mental space.
Take that blank piece of paper, and write down the product or service you will be offering at the top of the page. Then, start writing down all the words and ideas you associate with your product or service. Don’t stop to think, or to edit, just keep getting those words down.
I want to start up a business as a holistic nutrionist. On my piece of paper, I write the following words:
Nutrition, holistic, health, wellbeing, food, delicious food, healthy food, etc…..
When you run out of ideas, grab a thesaurus (or go online, let’s be realistic here) and keep adding to the list. Let your creative brain just dump out everything it can, later you’ll go back to sift through the rubble.
Continuing our example, after some time with the thesaurus, I added the following words to my list:
Diet, nourishment, rations, snack, victuals, sustenance, alternative, therapy, healthful, wellness, physical wellbeing, prime, robust, clean bill, euphoria, vigor etc…
Step 2: Write yourself a mission statement
Don’t start getting self conscious now! No-one ever has to see these words and sentences (unless you choose to share them).
So, next step: write a mission statement. Not too much thinking, just write down a few sentences about how you visualise your business and what you want to achieve.
As a nutritionist, my mission would be to provide healthy diet and lifestyle alternatives for my clients. I want to clearly demonstrate the benefits of choosing the right food for a healthy and happier outlook on life. I want to be seen as knowledgeable, caring and competent.
Read over your mission statement, and add the relevant keywords that jump out onto your list. (That list must be getting pretty big by now!)
Go back to your thesaurus again, and keep adding to the new words. Remember, keep an eye out for words that are striking, maybe a bit different (but not so different that they obscure your message), or that hit you in the gut as having some sort of potential.
This stage of the exercise is all about giving free rein to your creative instincts, so if a word jumps out and grabs you, grab it back and chuck it in your list.
Step 3: Creative word combinations to find the perfect business name
Time for a break. Take a breath. Chances are you’ve got a mini-mountain of business-related keywords staring back at you. What’s next?
Go make yourself a cup of tea or coffee. Let your brain do some percolating below the surface. However, if ideas do start jumping into your mind, jot them down – no use letting them go to waste!
Sitting back down with your long list of words, start looking to see if you can combine any of them together. Keep an eye out for:
- Common sayings
- Alliteration (words beginning with the same letter or sound)
- Words that rhyme
- Words that contradict each other.
Now’s a good time to let your logical brain back in on the action. Don’t get too carried away with the rhymes or the poetics if they don’t actually reflect back to your core business. Keep going back to your product or service written at the top of the page. Also refer back to the mission statement you wrote – it may be clunky, but it will probably be honest.
Some examples from my pretend session:
- Happy, Healthful & Holistic
- Prime Wellness
- Caring Nutrition
- Clean Outlook
These aren’t necessarily the perfect name yet, but there are definitely some with potential. Remember, I only did the exercise as a theoretical one, your results will be even better!
Online resources to help
These tools not only help with some of the brainstorming process, they also let you know quickly if the domain name is still available.
- You can type some words in the left box, and it will jumble them up in different permutations depending on what’s still available as a domain name.
- Play around with the check boxes down the bottom, trying 2 or 3 word combinations and adding in ‘the’ or ‘my’ to see what comes up.
- You put a word (or 2) in the search box, and it makes random selections based on what is still possible.
- There can be loads to wade through, but it helps with some lateral thinking ideas.
- Just having an available domain name isn’t enough!
- You’ll probably want to get on social media, so run your shortlist through this tool to make sure the platforms you will use are also available
What not to do when choosing a business name
- Try not to make your business name difficult to spell or pronounce. Avoid using negative sounding words.
- You don’t necessarily need to find a name that encompasses EVERYTHING you do or offer – your business is going to grow and evolve, so don’t get too bogged down in a name that’s too literal.
- Try not to pick a very generic name – inject your personality into the process.
Try to steer away from any names using hyphens, mainly because it gets clunky to say. You would always have to specify – for example – that your website is “my-hyphen-business-dot-com”
If you get a name you’re happy with, don’t forget to double check similar sounding websites that already exist (in your niche). I wouldn’t get too caught up in worrying about every possible permutation, but if a competitor has a very similar name to yours, you might lose sales to them.
If you are looking for a region specific domain (.com.au or .co.uk) and that is available but the .com version is not, you need to think about your position in your specific market. If you know that you are only going to be targeting your region, then there’s a good chance that you don’t need to worry about your ‘competitor’ in the US.
And finally, have fun with the process, and enjoy that feeling when you finally nail the perfect business name!
To help you with this exercise, I’ve created a Worksheet that you can fill out as you go through the exercise. It’s an editable PDF so you can either fill it out on your computer, or print it out and use pen and paper the old fashioned way!