Entrepreneurship Uncategorized

How to Name Your Business

One of the earliest steps in establishing your own business is choosing its name. For many new entrepreneurs, this step becomes a major obstacle. People think long and hard, trying to find the perfect name with exactly the right implications and branding possibilities. They invest the task with all the gravity of naming a child, thinking that whatever label they affix to their company can make or break it.

I think all that intensity is a bit misguided. From what I’ve learned, the name of your business actually has relatively little to do with its success or failure. As long as you don’t call your business something really off-putting or offensive, the impact will be minimal. Stalin Industries and Death to Kittens LLC aside, it’s the strength of your work that will matter most.

Rather than getting yourself stalled by overthinking your business’s name, it’s better to move forward with your work as soon as possible. By following a few simple guidelines, you can choose a name quickly, and let the value of your product be your biggest statement.

Don’t worry about the domain name. You don’t have to limit your name choices to available URL’s. While it can be nice to have your web address exactly match the name of your business, it’s far from necessary. It’s better to stick with whatever name you want and modify the URL than to scrap the name for the website’s sake.

Lots of successful businesses have websites with names that aren’t exactly their company’s. Treehouse is a perfect example; this thriving independent online business is technically at, and there’s no indication that it’s hurt their sales. The $100 MBA is at Having a slightly different web address usually doesn’t matter because your audience is most likely to find your business via search engine. As long as your basic SEO is in place, it’s your website’s content that will draw customers, not its address.

Avoid long or difficult names. For obvious reasons, if a business name is overly complex or hard to spell, it can do the one thing a name shouldn’t: create an obstacle between your audience and your product. While your content will guide your SEO, and predictive search engines like Google can usually guess what your potential customer is after, there’s no sense in erecting unnecessary hurdles.

Easily remembered, easily spelled names have a slight advantage. For that reason, companies often create shortened versions of their original names for brevity’s sake (think “TLC” and “KFC,” which are technically no longer abbreviations- they’re the full, official names of those companies). The minds behind Entrepreneur on Fire loved the concept their name represented, but as someone who relies heavily on spell check when blogging, even I can admit that “entrepreneur” is annoyingly hard to spell. Hence the slick moniker EOFire. Whatever minimizes the difficulty of saying, spelling, or remembering your business’s name is a good thing.

Be shallow. Your content should be deep. Your philosophy should be deep. Your Chicago-style pizza dish should be deep. The name of your business, however, should be simple. Obscure references to 19th-century literature, Greek mythology, or Star Trek may say something significant about your brand and its culture, but they may be very alienating, and worse, hard to remember. That’s why Brontë’s Dionysian Ten Forward failed as a sports bar, or would if it ever existed.

Find the simplest, most direct way to convey what your business does. The modern model is to take two words that describe your product, and slap them together. Dropbox. Convertkit. Webinar Ninja. Whatever is easiest to lodge in the memory will be most likely to bring inquiries.

When in doubt, you already have a name. Yours, that is. As long as your name isn’t overly common or overly tough to spell, naming your company after yourself can have a few advantages. For one, you have every legal right to it, so there’s no possibility of accidentally violating any other company’s claim to it. It also weds your company’s brand to your personal passion and credibility in the industry- always a plus for helping to stand out.

Best of all, it allows you to keep your business flexible and innovative. If your company’s name doesn’t directly describe your product, you can change or add products at will without confusion. The best example of this is Jason Zook, whose product changes regularly (and was, memorably, his actual name at one point). The name of his business and website, Jason Does Stuff, leaves him the option of doing whatever…stuff…occurs to him.

At the end of the day, you don’t have to seek a *perfect* name for your business. You can always change it. Companies, including major ones, regularly rebrand and give themselves a new name when it’s time to shake things up or take the business to a new level. What we now call Basecamp was formerly 37 Signals- because the founders decided to ride the wave of their most successful product. A little outfit called BackRub eventually changed its name to “Google.” Best Buy was once “Sound of Music.” Nike? You mean “Blue Ribbon Sports.”

The work, the product, and the value you offer to your customers is what matters most. The label you put on your business is secondary to the passion, creativity, and competence with which you invest it. So feel free to have fun with your company’s name. Try things out. Test market potential names to your audience, and see the reaction you get.

No matter what the sign on the door says, what’s behind it will determine your future.