[Article updated Feb. 2019] You’ve got a great business idea. You’ve even worked with some clients and tested your idea.
It’s a good one, and it’s time to make it official. You need a name and a website.
But, how do you go about naming your online business? It’s a process that you want to take some time with.
Don’t choose the first name that comes to mind. Instead, follow these steps to develop the perfect, lead generating name for your business.
7 Steps to Naming Your Online Business
#1) Decide if you want to use your own name for your business.
This is quite common, but there are some considerations for you.
Is your name hard to spell, hard to pronounce, or anything else weird? If so, you might choose another route. Or, that might make your domain super memorable.
Do you want flexibility in your branding and the ability to pivot your offerings easily? If so, then choosing your name might be the right choice for you.
If a future goal is to sell your business, then don’t use your name. Think about the long term objectives of your business as you consider using your given name or choosing another name entirely.
I chose not to use my name as the name for my web design business for a few reasons.
First, I’m also a writer. I want my name for my writing career and writing domain. It’s currently at amyisamanink.com and I should have just stuck with AmyIsaman.com, but for some reason I didn’t.
Second, I wanted the words “web design” to be in my web design business’s URL, but that created another problem. My brother-in-law is an amazing architect and his business is at IsamanDesign.com. I adore my brother-in-law and it felt weird to compete with him in terms of our names and the word design, so amyisamanwebdesign.com was out.
My next thought was to use my first and middle name for my business. I was thinking about “Amy Jane Creative.” It’s cute and fun. I liked it.
But, my mom, who is in her mid-seventies, shot down that idea by questioning the professionalism of it.
She explained that as an older woman, she wouldn’t take it seriously. It was too “cute.” She followed that up by asking me how many men used their first and middle names for their businesses?
Um….I couldn’t think of any.
I’m not saying that using a riff on your name won’t work or using your first and middle name will spell failure (I know other designers with successful businesses who’ve done just that), but if you can, use your first and last name to lend a more professional feel to your name.
#2) Check to see if your name is available as a domain name.
First, go to namechk.com. This is a great site as it also shows you what social media names are also available for you.
If what you want is available, BUY IT IMMEDIATELY (yes, I’m shouting here).
Somehow, someway, domain buyers seem to know what people search for and they snag those names. This happened to a client last year. Her name was available, and a few weeks later, it wasn’t. So, I repeat, if you find your name is available, buy it immediately.
And if you want to be a nice mom and you’re raising entrepreneurial children…buy their names too!!
As soon as you choose your business name, secure your social media accounts for your new business name.
If you’re still undecided about using your given name or a variation thereof for your business, use the following steps to come up with some more possibilities.
This is the fun part. Grab a piece of paper and list every name that comes to mind, including your own name (more on that in a sec.)
Remember, the key part of brainstorming is that lose your inner critic. If it pops in your head, write it down. More is better here.
Think about any that describe what you do and include those on your list. For example, if you’re a career coach, you’d list any words related to career and jobs as well as coaching.
When you think you’ve got all your ideas down, head to the internet. There are some fun tools you can use to add to your list.
Dotomator is fun one. It combines words from different areas to create brand new words.
Another fun tool is namecombiner. Spend some time playing around with both of these.
I’m a word geek, so I enjoy playing with the different variations but beware with tools like this too. Some of the words are clever but they’re also kind of goofy and weird. They wouldn’t work for a business name, no matter how “fun” they may seem.
Again, write down the ones you like but don’t choose yet.
#4) Add some keywords to your favorite names.
If you’re a career coach than having “careercoach” in your URL alerts Google to what you do, on every single page. Consider adding your keywords to your business name or to your domain name.
For example, my business in named Entwine Web Design because “web design” is obviously a key word. It’s what I do. I have since expanded into website coaching, but Entwine Web Design name still works. It’s not too narrow.
#5) Narrow it down and ask for feedback.
Take your top three or four favorites and ask people that you trust for their feedback. Ask them what feeling they get about your business when they hear the name? Does it reflect who you are? What you do?
Both my mom and my husband made really great points that I hadn’t thought about when I asked for their thoughts on my list, and I ended up scratching some of my ideas. See if you can get it down to two or three options.
#6) Test it.
Run your favorites through these final tests:
- Say it out loud. Does it sound weird? Or does it sound like something you don’t want it to sound like? Do you like the sound of it?
- Can people spell it? Will it be hard to type into a browser?
- Check availability at namechk.com.
#7) Purchase the domain.
If you know where you want to host your site, you can purchase your domain name there. I recommend Siteground for your hosting and site build.
Or, you can buy domains from Go Daddy or Namecheap. I own most of my domain names at Go Daddy and then point them to Siteground when I build a site with that name. They’re both big, reputable companies.
Naming your online business is a big decision. It will be with you for the life of your business. Choose wisely.
P.S. When you’re ready to build your site, download the Website Creation Starter Kit to help you put together a practical plan to get your website up and running.
*Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links which means that I will earn a small commission for any purchases you make using the link. This post is designed to educate and encourage you in your website endeavors, but this is also my business, which is a for-profit endeavor! As you build out your site, I encourage you to also explore affiliate opportunities to help offset the costs of your website.