Choosing your business name is probably one of the first big decisions you’ll have to make in this crazy entrepreneur journey. If you’ve gotten stuck on this part, you’re not alone. It’s not a decision to take lightly, but it also doesn’t need to be overthought.
One of the big questions I get from my branding clients is: “Should my business name include my actual name or not?”
While there is no right or wrong answer, whichever one you choose does matter. Another question I get asked is how specific to get when it comes to naming your business.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself if you’re trying to decide:
1. Are you the face of your business?
This is the NUMBER ONE thing to consider. How do you want people to remember your business? Do you want them to remember YOUR name or YOUR BUSINESS’S name? I see people using a clever business name that doesn’t include their actual name wonder why no one knows their actual name. The truth is, A LOT of people won’t know your name if it’s not directly in your business name. Yes, on Instagram there is a “name” area, and you can write your name a million times on your Website’s ‘About’ page, but that doesn’t mean people are paying attention.
If YOU are the face of your business and you want people to know YOU, consider using at least your first name in your business name.
Examples of business owners that used their name as (or in) their business name: Jenna Kutcher (marketing queen), Kellie Lynn Media (hi, that’s me!), Karima Creative (a talented Squarespace designer and colleague of mine).
2. Are you planning to hire employees?
Do you plan on hiring people on your team to do what you do? I’m not talking about hiring a virtual assistant or bookkeeper, I’m talking about hiring someone to do what YOU do, or another variation of what you do. For example, if you are a health coach, do you plan on hiring more health coaches to join your team?
If your answer is “yes”, I would consider using a business name that doesn’t include your name. Why? Once you hire that second coach onto your team, it won’t make sense to have your entire company be under YOUR name when there are more than one of you doing what you do.
3. Are you planning to do what you’re doing now forever?
Okay, forever is dramatic, but you need to consider the longevity of your business name. For example, when I started Kellie Lynn Media I was a Virtual Assistant and Social Media Manager, which is not what I do now. At the time, I contemplated adding something Virtual-Assistant-related to my business name, and now I am SO GLAD I didn’t. I diversified my portfolio and now do Web Design, Graphic Design, and Social Media Marketing. Had I added “Assistant” or something similar to my business name, I would have had to rebrand entirely when I made that switch.
If you know that you are going to be, say, an interior designer for the entirety of your business, it’s OK to add “interiors” or “interior design” to your business name.
If you aren’t sure if you’ll stay with exactly what you’re doing right now (AKA my situation), then don’t get too specific.
4. Are you forcing creativity just for the sake of coming across as clever?
Are you trying to force a creative name with a “cutesy” word or phrase? If it doesn’t come to you right off the bat, it may not be the name for you. The amount of time I spent on Thesaurus.com is laughable. I was trying so hard to come up with something cute and creative that I totally lost sight of my business “why”.
If this sounds like you, here’s what I want you to do. This is a process I put my branding clients through when they aren’t sure what they want to name their business.
1) Take a step back for an hour and don’t think about it. Then, you come back to it with a clearer mind.
2) The first thing I want you to do is write down your business’s core values. What do you want people to feel when they come to you. What do you want to be known for?
3) Where do you see your business in 1 year? 2? 5?
4) What services are you going to offer right now?
5) Go through the first 3 questions in this blog post and ask yourself them if you haven’t already.
Sometimes, in the midst of you trying to force a clever name, you realize that all you need to make your business stand out is your work, and you can keep it simple. If a cutesy name comes to you easily and naturally and it feels right, run with it! The key here is to never force a name just to be clever.
5. Is the name already taken?
I can’t tell you how many clever business names I came up with that were already taken. An EASY way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to use your actual name in it somewhere. If you find that the name you’re in love with is already taken, don’t make the mistake of using it anyways just because the business that is using it is across the country, or in a different field than you.
Regardless of how in love with your new business name you are, you HAVE to consider trademarks, SEO, domain availability, and the possibility of your clients being confused if they come across that other business.
Choosing your business name is probably the most important part of your business launch, so take your time with it. Don’t force something that doesn’t feel right. Bounce ideas off your friends and family. Have any other tips? Leave them in the comments below!