Choosing a name for your small business

Bad business names

The year was 2013, I was full of enthusiasm, and seriously lacking in any decision making skills.

I’d had the idea to make something and sell it at markets for a number of years. I was always on the hunt for a way to escape my 9-5 desk job, and I thought through using my artistic skills, I could one day achieve this.

My biggest hurdle at the time, was what to call my business. I was stuck, and unable to move forward. I couldn’t create a logo, make my website, or launch a facebook page if I didn’t have a business name.

At the time I was making resin jewellery using bezels and artwork, and was doing A4 watercolour paintings of Auckland landmarks. I finally came to the conclusion that my business was essentially me. So, I decided to call it Helen Emmett – Artist. Even after making this decision, I worried myself sick over what would happen when I got married, and I was no longer ‘Helen Emmett‘?

Well, I’m still not married, so all that worry was for an issue that never even eventuated. Choosing to use my name for my small business was the best decision I could have made. It has allowed me to grow and develop, without the restrictions a created name could potentially have.

So I’ve decided to compile a list of a few things to consider when choosing a name for your side-hustle/business, and hopefully this will get your creative juices, and your decision making flowing.

A few things to consider …

  • Do you see your business growing, evolving and potentially changing over time? For example, if you currently only make necklaces and call your business ‘The necklace shop‘ will this limit your opportunities to branch into bracelets, rings, scarves … etc.
  • Is your business very specific? For example, if you make a range of children’s toys you may want something that relates to this and conveys a strong message. Like ‘Amazing children’s toys‘. Well, maybe something a bit more inventive than that – but you get my drift.
  • Do you want the possibility of selling your business once it is established? In this case using your name could cause issues for you if you want to then start a similar business in the future.
  • Does the name have any negative or derogatory meanings, or a different meaning in any other language? For example, gift means poison in German. And calling your coffee shop ‘The chocolate log‘ … I don’t think they thought that one through. (Also, If your name is BJ – maybe think twice about using your name for your business).
  • Is it easy to pronounce?
  • Is it easy to remember?
  • Is it trademarked?
  • Is the domain name available? God bless Tim Batt for purchasing the domain name for Brian Tamaki’s new political party, and then redirecting it to a YouTube video of ‘The Male Gayz‘, a show about what it means to be LBGTQIA+ in the modern world. Classic.
  • Are you planning on getting married? Ha ha, just kidding!

More importantly, don’t let the fear of making the wrong decision stop your progress. Once I decided on a name, my business snowballed. And at the end of the day, nothing is carved in stone. If you do inadvertently call your business ‘BJ’s on the Beach‘, you can always change it. Remember when Spark used to be called Telecom? Well there you go.

Bad business names