Your Small Business Name -- Important?

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You bet a name is important. Many small business owners try to come up with a clever name for their business rather than one that explains what they do. And, nine times out of ten, that is a mistake. Your business name should give your prospects some idea of what your business is about.

One of the most useful processes you can use to come up with a good name is to turn it around. Rather than looking at the name from your perspective, approach it from your prospect's perspective.

1. Identify your target market. Be specific. What are their wants and needs? Specific gender? How big are they? Do they make a certain amount of revenue? What do they look like? Draw a picture of your prospect.

2. Why should they do business with you? What are the benefits? What makes you different from all the other businesses in your industry?

Based on your answers to 1 and 2 above, brainstorm a list of words that could potentially turn into a company name. Now try putting them together. Experiment with all sorts of combinations. Eliminate those that just don't appeal to you at all.

Now narrow down that list to 10 possible names and walk away. Let the list sit for at least a day. Then come back and take a second look. See anything else that should be removed? If not, you have a potential list of names. Access your state directory of business names to make sure yours are not taken. Check the Library of Congress for patent and trademark names too.

Narrow your list again, this time whittling it down to three names. If at all possible, run those names by people who are your target market to make sure they "get it."

Okay, you're almost done. Take that list of three names and rank them in terms of how you feel about them. Say them out loud just like you would if you were introducing yourself to someone or answering the phone.

That's it. Select the name that works the best for you and get your business going.

About the Author

Denise O'Berry frequently speaks to professional organizations, is the author of three booklets, and several "how-to" manuals. She writes a weekly small business column, hosts an online small business owners forum and is called upon regularly by publications such as Entrepreneur, Bank Rate Small Business, Florida Trend, Inc., various newspapers, radio and television to provide expert comments on small business issues.

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