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Naming can be one of the biggest hurdles when you start a business. Either all the great names are taken, the domain isn’t available or, if you are like me, you may just lack imagination. Here are some dos and don’ts when it comes to naming.
If you have the money available you could opt to engage the services of a professional to help name your business.
But if you’re coming up with the name yourself, I’ve compiled a list of some do’s and don’ts for you to keep in mind.
- Think about what your business does;
- Write a brief summary of what your business does, your target market and what separates you from your competition;
- Be original and make yourself stand out from the rest;
- Check out what your competitors are calling themselves to give you a feel for what works and what doesn’t work;
- Think about what impression you want to create eg: playful, formal, relaxed;
- Get feedback from friends and family before you formalise your name;
- Think about how it will look when you write it down or need to type it into a search engine;
- Check whether the domain name is available (not sure how? check out my guide here);
- Search the internet to check whether your chosen name is taken by someone else, competitor or otherwise;
- Check the name is available at Companies House. Should your earnings increase or your business structure needs to change you may need a Limited Company. If necessary, consider forming your company to “save” the name for the future (although this does have additional costs and responsibilities even if you choose not to use it initially).
- Use sensitive or explicit words;
- Choose words connected to government or professional bodies;
- Use the word “Limited” at the end of your name, that’s reserved for registered Companies.
Do You Need to Name Your Business?
You are not legally obliged to name your self-employed business, you could opt to trade under your own name.
For some using your own name shows their target customers that they are a small business with a personal touch.
Others choose against using their own name as part of:
- Business Branding;
- Make themselves stand out in front of potential customers;
- Use a name that shows what business they are in;
Can I change my Self-Employed Business Name
Yes, you can change your business name and many people often do. Sometimes they never really liked the name they chose or their business evolves into something new.
Changing business names can be done but it may have an impact on your business, it’s reputation and confuses customers.
There is also an administrative burden because you’ll need to change things like:
- Bank account name;
- Supplier contacts;
- Email address;
- Update HMRC.
By choosing the right business name from the get-go will avoid needing to make changes at a later date. So it is worth investing some time in the naming process.
Anita is a Chartered Accountant with over a decade of experience taking self-employed business owners from financially confused to business savvy.
She is the creator of the ‘Go Self Employed’ website, which is her corner on the internet where she makes self-employment less terrifying.