Choosing a business name

If you are about to go in to business and need  a name for your new company, or are just interested in learning about choosing business names, this article will help you do just that.

Coming up with a name for your company can be frustrating. I have done this many times and I still go through a frustrating period with it every time. There are a few things you should keep in mind when you go through the process. First, think long term. Try to think of names that are general and grander in scope instead of very local or with an “I’m working out of my mom’s basement” feel (unless there is some specific reason you are going for that exact feel). For example, I would use a name like Galaxy Trucking Solutions over a name like Paul’s Cincinnati Trucking. This gives people the impression that you are a legit company. Also, in 5 five years when your company is more established and you have employees to deal with new customers, you really don’t want to have everyone ask for Paul (let’s pretend that’s your name). It will get rather annoying quickly and will not help in any way. You really don’t need your name on your company, the people that should know who is in charge, will. Plus, your business card will likely have a senior title anyway. You also don’t want to use a town or city name because it won’t make much sense when you expand your business in to another country.

You can even use letters like ‘BCL’. Keep in mind, if you are going to use letters, it’s a good idea for it to stand for something even if you don’t use it. Otherwise, when people ask you what ‘BCL’ stands for (and they will) you won’t have something intelligent to say and your stock will go down in their mind.

If you live in Canada you can register your company as a numbered company. This means that you don’t have to give your company a name and then you can just choose a name to operate as. This makes it easier to change later if you are not sure that you will use this company for that purpose later on. I do have to caution though, if you end up doing big business and dealing with large multinational corporations, this might hurt your credibility a little as a real player to deal with. If you live in the US or any other country, check the regulations to see if there is something similar to a numbered company that is offered in Canada.

The last thing, and this is very important, once you have chosen a name, do a business name search. This might cost some money, usually not very much (varies from region to region) but it is absolutely crucial. Imagine you have been living under a rock your whole life and never heard of Microsoft and you thought of that exact name for your new upholstery company. Two years go by and your business is steadily growing and then one day you receive a letter from Microsoft (Bill Gates’ Microsoft) demanding you change your name or they’ll sue your pants off. This can kill an infant business that is just trying to establish its name in the market. So do yourself a favor and spend the $50 or so and do a proper name search before you register.