What’s in a name? Well, quite a lot when your startup is reliant on it!
The right name for your business can ultimately mean the difference between success and failure. In today’s ultra-sensitive and politically correct society, when you choose your business name you need to ensure you are not excluding or offending not only potential groups of customers but culturally offensive material – but that can be a discussion for another day.
The wrong name could leave you into all sorts of legal, administrative and trademark issues not only at home but potentially abroad – so it is important to choose and register a name that is not only available but legally useable otherwise you could get yourself into a whole lot of strife.
In this article, we explore the simple ways to naming and registering your startup so that your launch is smooth sailing and you have peace of mind you've set up everything legally and correctly.
Tips For Setting Up Your Startup's Business Name & Registration
Check that there is not an existing business with the name
Although this may seem blatantly obvious, unfortunately, it's not! If you are a business in Australia, you can look up the ABN register, for example, to see if there is a business with the same name.
For example, if there is a business in a totally different area of business than you – such as a flower arranging business and you are web developer – it comes down to whether you are looking to build your business off their existing ‘good will.' This is getting a little legal, however, let's just say, if you are unsure, speak with a lawyer to get it checked out!
So you may have the business name in Australia, but you then want to export into the USA – hang on, there is someone there with the same name, oh and in the same industry this is where you need to be aware of existing businesses with your name and do the relevant searches to identify and monitor these businesses.
Grab all the domain names you can
You may only want to use only one domain name, but you should always buy as many of the similar & relevant domains for your business.
For example, if you only wanted the .com.au, and the .com, .net, .com.nz and .com.sg were all available and you have the funds to purchase them through your domain reseller you are mad not to do so. Buy up as many of the domains you can and redirect these to your website.
If you are an online startup looking to branch out across the globe eventually, a .com domain is obviously best, however, if you need to get creative you can purchase .co or similar if the domain you want is too expensive or not available.
Buying relevant domains is a great way to protect your business from potential issues down the track. In some instances, people simply purchase domain names to resell them. There is a current example of the owner of www.milk.com that wants to sell the domain for $10 million! Who says there is nothing in a name!
Don’t make your business name too hard
It's important to ensure you don’t make your business name too long, or too hard to say or spell. If you choose a name that is difficult or too tricky to say, people will lose interest and there really is no engagement with your brand name. If it's essential you have a specific business name, consider abbreviating or setting up shortened versions of names to save confusion for your customers.
There are always exceptions to the rule – such as lawyers and accountants that require in many cases names to be in the title of the business for liability reasons – but other than that follow the old KISS rule and keep it nice and simple.
Determine if there is there a story behind your name
There are so many brand names that have a romantic meaning behind it such as Nike – Greek Goddess of victory – or UBER – an outstanding or supreme example of something. However, on the other side of the coin, there are some brand names such as Google that mean nothing at all!
While a name with no meaning is ok, it will require more marketing spend to explain firstly what it is, as well as what you do. Something with the name intrinsically linked to the service, product or experience you are providing is always handy.
Having a story behind the name gives you something to speak with potential clients about, something to set you apart and something to remember you by.
Make it catchy
If a shop front looks terrible, will you walk in? The same thing applies to your business name! Why would anyone want to engage with you if your name sounds like something that is boring, not relevant to their needs or they simply don’t associate with.
Your brand name should personify what your business stands for, what your customers want to aspire to and are inspired by. Catchy names are memorable and will cut through the noise for you and your brand, ensure that you stand out from the crowd.
Get feedback before you commit
Many businesses that have had a ‘great idea’ for a name will go through the above steps only to realize that the name just doesn't work in the end with the most important people – the customers.
It is vital for you to actively get feedback on your name selection. Take feedback on board and be sure not to just brush it off – as when all your names are registered, the website is designed, marketing collateral is printed, it will be a lot more expensive to change things after the fact than before hand.
Are you looking to expand? Make sure you don’t offend in other markets!
With business now being only limited by our imagination rather than our country of origin, it is vital when you are picking your business name that you have in mind the potential future impacts that your name may have in foreign markets or cultures.
Having an understanding of where your business may go is like having a crystal ball, however, you need to have a small idea otherwise you could be in big trouble. For example, if you are an Australian company, looking to branch out to trading partners such as China you should be aware of a few cultural difference which may affect business. If you wanted to go into China as a company and had any reference to the numbers 4, 13, and 14 in your name – numeric or alphanumeric – you may be in trouble as they are unlucky numbers and even omitted in some buildings in the Chinese culture.
There are considerations such as this that although you won’t be able to prepare for them all, the obvious ones you should be able to hedge.
Don’t limit your business expansion through your name
Your name defines you, your business, your offering, your brand and ultimately your customers. You need to ensure that not only is it all of the above, but it does not limit your capacity to expand your operations due to having a name that limits your ability to diversify. For example, if you were called Mikes Bikes and you wanted to go into plumbing, you may have an issue. Although this won't be a game changer, you want to be able to leverage the brand name and good will of the established name you create, not have to start it all again!
Why Do I Need To Register My Startup?
Once you have decided on your name and found a domain name that matches, it's an important step to register your business and ensure it is all correctly set up in the eyes of the law and your accountant.
Even if your business is just a side project, if you are earning money and offering a service you should ensure everything is above board, and you should seek the advice of a legal or financial expert.
Don't leave this step for another time, if you want to ensure your business is set up properly you will need to register it and ensure everything is hunky dory.
Every country has different rules and regulations for setting up and registering your business, yet having a legal structure is essential for taking advantage of tax benefits and allowing your business to grow.