In this rapidly growing economy, it is commonplace to see businesses in every nooks and crannies of the world. Sole proprietorship is having the highest number of registration. From the home-based entrepreneur to the shop owner, and then the small office consultant, people are taking advantage of the freedom enjoyed in becoming their own boss.
Billions of corporate monies are invested yearly in starting new businesses. A visit to the Lagos office of the nation’s registrar of business names buttresses this fact.
While it is true that anybody can start up a business of their own, many entrepreneurs have fallen short of the leveraging that accrues from this experience. This, to a large extent, has to do with the disadvantaged names worn by these businesses.
A business does not actually begin by formulating a business plan or opening a bank account. It starts from choosing a name. There’s more to business names than just identity. The right name is an advertising tool. If the name doesn’t describe the nature of your business, potential clients may not realize that you offer something they need.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 mistakes to avoid when choosing a business name:
1. NOT KNOWING WHAT KIND OF BUSINESS YOU ARE IN. It is surprising that some entrepreneurs choose a name with little or no indication of what type of work the organization actually does. Including a descriptive word in your business name can be useful when marketing your products or company. This may be made possible if you have identified what differentiates you from competitors. Take the following examples:
Adenix and Sons
One Love Enterprises
Just You Shop
Can you tell me what any of these companies do? No! They’re relying on customers already knowing who they are (a tricky proposition for new businesses).
2. USING A NAME THAT IS TOO LONG, DIFFICULT TO REMEMBER, SPELL OR PRONOUNCE. A good name is something that can be mentioned on radio or over the phone without explanation. People will make a quick decision based on their first impression of your business name. Put the name through a spelling test and ask others to spell it. So, choosing a name such as “Lolitoesy” is not a good one.
3. NOT SPENDING QUALITY TIME BRAINSTORMING. Business names are not “spur of the moment” creations. It is the result of possibly long days and nights of brainstorming, digging the Thesaurus for synonyms and antonyms, interrelated words and words that have some kind of relationship with the proposed business activity. The big companies even hire expensive consultants to help them choose the right name for their businesses or products.
4. PROMOTING A NAME WITHOUT TESTING AND CHECKING ITS AVAILABILITY. Once you have chosen a few names, test them out on friends and family, potential clients and everyone you know. Ask them what kind of service they feel you provide and feeling they get about the name. You’ll be surprised at how honestly they give you suggestions. Then you can proceed to check availability at the name registry nearest to you after being convinced it’s best. Don’t waste money on letter heads and complimentary cards trying out a business name already chosen by someone else.
5. CHOOSING WORDS WITH NEGATIVE OR NEUTRAL CONNOTATION. A word’s connotation can be positive, negative or neutral, depending on the emotional associations that people generally make. If you are starting a transport business for instance, you don’t want it to have a weak sounding or negative name, such as “Willow Twig Trucking” or “Kitten Transport”. You want a business name that conveys strength and reliability. A choice such as “Stone Creek Transport” would be much better. Remember: Words are powerful.
6. NAMING A BUSINESS AFTER THE FOUNDER OR ANY OTHER PERSON. It is a common tendency for a business to be named after the original founder. This approach can make customers expect the personal attention and care of the owner. Using your name, followed by the type of service works well if you have an already established reputation in your specialty. But, if you are planning to one day sell your company, a company-owner named business is less attractive.
7. NOT CONSIDERING THE FUTURE. Robert Dilenschneider wrote about a public relations person who broadened her services from just writing to media relations and had to change the name of her business from Miller’s Writing Services to Miller’s Communications. Aside brainstorming for ideas, you need foresight in choosing a name. Even if you are operating a highly-niched product, select names that would represent a broader category of your product line.
8. FAILURE TO GET THE RIGHT DOMAIN NAME FOR YOUR BUSINESS. If your business activity is almost 100% online or will do better having an online presence, you may need to consider starting your search by getting a suitable domain name for your website first. In the modern world of the internet, where people automatically turn to the web for information, it pays to have a domain name that reflects your site or business.
9. NOT AVOIDING LAWSUIT. Be unique. The best you can be trying to be someone else is second best. Avoid being a copycat. Using a name similar or identical to that of another business can get you into problems including legal issues. If you call your line of equestrian apparel “Polo Sporting Designs”, the holder of the trademark “Polo” – the giant Ralph Lauren – may slap you with a lawsuit.
10. NOT CONSULTING A BUSINESS NAMING EXPERT. While the services of lawyers, chartered accountants and chartered secretaries can be invaluable in the registration of a business name and company, these categories of professionals might not understand the selling and marketing principles that copywriters can use to your advantage. A good copywriter is always looking for ways to help you communicate more effectively to more people.