Congratulations! You’ve tested your business idea and you’re ready to press all the buttons and start your small business. You’ve researched your competitors, found your best client niche and you’re ready to hang out your shingle and become an entrepreneur. So...what will you call your business?
Unless you’re operating a sole proprietorship or registering a corporation under your own name, you’ll need to take some time and think about the best name for your business. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a name for your small business:
The name of your small business can have a great impact on the perception of your company. Make it memorable and not overly complicated. You might register your business name with “Inc.” or “Ltd.” at the end, but you don’t have to include that in the name you present to the public. You register your company name and use it day to day OR decide to have a completely different ‘program’ name that you use with your clients/patients.
To set up a memorable business name, shorter is usually better. Think of some popular businesses you know – most of them have names comprising just one or two words. Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Canadian Tire, to name a few. Don’t feel limited by your actual business offering in choosing a name – Tim Horton was a hockey player, after all!
Keep your business’ name creative enough for people to remember. If you’re starting a plumbing business, you may think that “Joe’s Reliable Plumbing” might be a good name. However, consider Canadian plumbing franchise Mr. Rooter. This is a name that gets the point across just as well as “Joe’s Reliable Plumbing,” but in a more creative and catchy way.
Purposeful misspelling like “Kidz” or “E-Z” (think Kwik Kopy) is another way to keep your business name creative. Now, the jury’s out on this one – some hate this method, but some may decide it’s a fun way to keep their business name creative.
Write out your top three small business names and make sure to say them aloud and spell them out. The last thing you want is a business name that’s confusing, unintentionally funny or that you have to spell for people!
What’s your business’ target market? Who are your competitors? What is the image you are trying to portray? If you’re opening a kinesiology business targeted at older adults, you might not want to name it Big Biceps for Babes - or would you?!. You want people to see your business name and not only get a sense of what you do professionally, but also who you are as a person.
In our area of professional practice we could predictably include the word(s) ‘kinesiology’, ‘training’, ‘fitness’, ‘wellness’, ‘movement’ or even consider something completely different for an original spin.
You may have come across a business called something like Toronto Kinesiology - but the business owner has relocated to Orillia because of opportunities presented with the pandemic (oops!). Or you may have wondered why your friends were taking you to a place called Mike’s Burgers to get a cappuccino.
These are examples of business names that relied too heavily on a location or product/service offering. Third Street Bagels got a great deal on its space in its town’s popular 50th Street. Mike decided to capture some of the crowd frequenting the café next door. However, if the owners of these businesses had opted for more general names to begin with (such as “Bagel Heaven” and “Bluebird Café”), their expansion wouldn’t have confused their customers.
At this point in time, it’s quite likely that you’ll have at least a very simple website set up for your business. Choose a small business name that will also work well as a website URL. Search to see if your business name is available as a .com, .ca or .net address. If not, are there other options for alternative domain names available? Bluebird Café could consider registering thebluebird.ca or bluebirdmontreal.com. Write your name out as one continuous word and make sure no undesired words or connotations sneak in (Bluebird Café wouldn’t want to register bluebirdfood.com, for example, lest they get calls from confused pet stores).
When choosing your small business name, there are some restrictions to what you can use. Names that suggest connections with the Royal Family or with the government will be rejected when you try to register. Names that are too similar to existing businesses (sorry, Tarbuck’s Coffee) or considered obscene or inappropriate aren’t allowed either. Consider taking a page from Google’s book and making up a name for your company that doesn’t already exist. As long as it keeps in mind all the considerations above, it could be very appropriate for your company.
To check out potential business names, go to the NUANS site. This will allow you to enter your chosen company name and see if it is available to register for yourself. This site is where you can check on names for sole proprietorships, partnerships and corporations. Fingers crossed that you can land the business name you want!
Want some other tips to get your business off to the right start? Grab 10 Essentials You Need to Set Up Your Movement Practice.
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