One of the first things we do when we decide to start a new business is name the baby. Not only is it a big decision, it's typically a permanent one so you want to feel great about the name you land on. Naming your startup can be challenging, so we're sharing the story of how Trusty Oak got its name and providing you with some guidelines to ensure you choose a business name that serves you well for years to come.
Choose a Unique Name for Your Startup
If you only take away one point from this post, let it be this one. We live in a time when consumers Google you before they ever step foot into your business or pick up the phone to call. If they cannot find your business online, you may as well assume they believe you don’t even exist.
You probably have a list of ideas you are tossing around. To help eliminate names that just won’t work, take the time to research each name.
Google search the name (search on Facebook and Twitter, too!) and evaluate the results.
- Does another company turn up in the top results? If so, look at the number of times they are mentioned on the first page of Google.
- Are there any ads displaying for your search?
- Are there any results that resemble your products or services?
If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of those questions, scrap the name. If you choose a name that is already being used by someone – even if what they do has nothing to do with what you do – you’ll always be competing with that business for organic search results.
If the answer is ‘no’ to all of those questions, move to the next key step of your research: choosing a domain name.
Choose a Business Name That Is Easy to Communicate
1. Get a domain name with the .com extension.
#straighttalk – Unless you are a non-profit (non-profits are typically .org) do yourself a huge favor and make sure you can purchase the .com URL for your business name. Don’t assume that because .net is available that you’re good to go – people who are looking for YOU will end up on the wrong website and you will lose the lead. Our brains default to .com, so make it easy on those people who want to find your website quickly.
2. Don’t use a hyphen in your domain name.
Similarly, if yourbusinessname.com is not available, it’s tempting to try to add a hyphen between the words as a workaround, but this is a bad idea. Imagine that you are being interviewed on the radio and asked to tell listeners where they can find more information about your business. If you have to spell out the domain, say “hyphen” in the middle of it, or explain anything, some people are going to get confused or forget the domain. Don’t make these rookie mistakes!
3. Keep it short and simple.
A shorter business name and a shorter domain name will help your prospects and customers remember you and refer to you easily. Make sure there are not multiple ways to spell the words in your business name, otherwise you will find yourself spelling out the name over and over and others will consistently make mistakes.
For example, “virtual assistants” sounds the same as “virtual assistance” when it is spoken. We didn’t choose a name that included this important keyword because a) it’s a mouthful to say and b) it has multiple spellings. In this case, it’s better to go with unrelated words that are easy to remember.
4. Buy all variations of your domain name(s).
It’s easy to find out if a URL is available. Simply visit the domain registrar of your choice and search for your domain name (.com). If it shows up as available for purchase, this is great news!
- Double check that someone else does not own .net or .org and purchase at least .com and .net for your domain.
- Buy misspellings of your domain name as well. For example, we own trustyoak.com as well as trustyoaks.com, and the incorrect version redirects to trustyoak.com. People frequently mistake the name, so this ensures that a miss-keyed URL still takes the user to our website.
Choose a Business Name That Can Grow
One last important thing to consider is the scalability of your business name. If you have a vision to grow your company, don’t limit yourself by choosing a name that is too specific to a time, place, or person. Unless your business is and always will be 100% dependent on your personal brand, don’t use your first or last name in the business name. Unless you are 100% sure you will never expand your business outside of your city, don’t use the city name or neighborhood in the business name.
Ask yourself these questions when choosing a name for your startup:
- Is there any chance in the near or distant future that you will want to sell the business?
- Is there any chance in the future you will move, add new locations, or franchise your company?
- Is there any chance you will expand your services or add new products to be provided through this same business?
If you’ve considered all of these points when choosing a name for your startup, you’ve at least eliminated the bad ideas quickly – and that’s half the battle!
So, How Did Trusty Oak Get Its Name?
I followed these same steps to eliminate the bad ideas, but generating the good ideas took time. I ultimately decided to go with something symbolic that I personally love – trees! The oak trees in the Austin area are abundant and typically withstand the unpredictable Texas weather. I like the idea of a dependable, sturdy oak tree, and the symbolism is not lost on most people looking to hire a reliable virtual assistant.
If you’ve already settled on a great name for your company, we’d love to hear your business name stories in the comments below! And if you’re still brainstorming, post a question or a comment about the experience. Let’s get creative!