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Selecting The Right Business Name

Selecting a business name may seem like a trivial thing, but it can make a difference in both the short-term success and the long-term direction of your business. A business name has more to do with image than anything else. And in the early stages of your business, image will be everything. As you begin your operation you will very literally be operating on an image and a promise.

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As a new enterprise you will not be in a position to offer the depth of experience that your competitors offer. You will probably not have the access to capital that your more mature counterparts do. You may not have a seasoned staff. You will not enjoy the longstanding client relationships that are so important to the success of a small business. In short, one of the few small tokens of value that you will be able to offer prospective customers will be an image of professionalism and reliability.

Selecting the right business name will be the first and most important step in building an image for your new enterprise. A well-chosen name will add value to your efforts and become an asset to your organization over time. A poorly chosen name, on the other hand, may hinder your efforts and detract from your success.

Name Selection Process

As a start-up business, your principal objective should be to select a name that adds immediate value to your efforts - a name that you can put right to work, so to speak. The following steps will help guide you through the name selection process.

1. Create a list of descriptive words

Think of as many words as you can that describe the business you will be in, the product or service you will be providing, and the industry you will be a part of. Think of words that describe the unique way in which you will produce, deliver or price your product or service. Think of words that describe where your business will be located and the type of customers it will serve. Add to this list your own names - first and last - and any other names or words that you can think of which might lend themselves to a business name. This is the time to be as liberal as possible. A word can always be dropped later. Write all of these words down on a piece of paper or on a board.

2. Mix and match these descriptive words & create a short list of possible names

Begin to put these words together in different ways. Mix, match, shorten or abbreviate. Try combining two words into one. Think about ways to create a play-on-words. Be as creative and exhaustive as possible. At this point you should dismiss from your mind any preconceived notions about what constitutes a proper business name. Let your creativity flow.

Of course, most of the names you come up with will fall short of expectations. You will find, however, that some of the most unusual and ridiculous names will lead you down new paths of creative thought - spawning a myriad of new possibilities. When you stumble across a name that seems to hold promise, add it to a separate list. This will become your short list of possible business names.

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3. Refine your short list

Once you have developed your short list of possible business names, you should spend some time working with and thinking about the names on the list. Sort and prioritize your list. Refine the names on your list. Try recombining elements of different names. Be sure to select names that you can grow with. Avoid names that limit the geographic scope of your operation or define your business too narrowly.

At this point you will probably have some very definite feelings and opinions about the names on your list. The selection process will have created some pronounced biases - which is not all bad. It is, after all, your business. But before you head to the printer to have your new name emblazoned on thousands of business cards and expensive letterhead, take the time to get some additional opinions.

4. Solicit the objective opinions of others & make a final selection

If at all possible you should get some objective opinions and fresh perspectives on your short list. Just because a name has a special meaning for you does not necessarily mean it will strike the general public in the same way. Soliciting feedback from others will help you evaluate your list honestly and from a variety of perspectives.

Don't be disappointed if those who offer opinions on your list do not find your favorite name to be as clever and appealing as you do. It is important that those who are asked to evaluate your list are absolutely objective and unbiased. Do not tell them how you would rank the list, just give them the raw list and ask them to rate the names objectively. Share with them the type of business you will be starting and ask them to select the business names which are most appealing to them as potential consumers.

As you receive feedback from others, don't lose sight of the fact that ultimately you will be the one that has to live with the name day-in and day-out. The opinions of others can be important, but in the end you should not be afraid to go with your instincts. Listen to the opinions of others and then make your first executive decision and move forward.

Registering Your Name

Once you have selected a business name you will need to register it with the County Clerk. A form will be issued to you requesting general information about your business and its owners. There will be a place on the form for you to designate the fictitious name that you are proposing for your business: ABC Widgets, for example. The County Clerk will then conduct a search (for a modest fee) to ensure that the name you have selected is not currently registered by another business. If it is you will need to select a different name. If the name is available, it will be registered to you at that time.

You should also check to see if you must register your business name with the state separately - certain states require this. Even if you are not required to register with the state, you should check with the office of Secretary of State to determine whether another business has already incorporated under the same name.

Writing an Effective Mission Statement

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