You grab your coffee. You sit down. And you think the same thought that’s been plaguing you for weeks now…
“Okay, time to name my business. Let’s do this.”
Then, all the RULES rush through your head…
You know the ones…
Your business name has to be unique. Totally different.
Your business name must be clever. But not TOO clever that no one understands it.
And holy hell, it can’t be boring either.
Plus, your exact business name has to be readily available as a domain name. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Barely a minute has passed, and you’re already losing steam.
Enter your fairy business coach. [Insert tinkly theme music and muted glowy light.]
Okay, so we have a problem here. (Besides the tinkly theme music.)
That problem is this:
You’re all up in your head! And you haven’t even begun the process!
See, some things in your business are rote and mental. Like, entering numbers into a spreadsheet, profit and loss, mapping out your call-back schedule.
So, it’s tempting to think that EVERYTHING in your business should follow suit.
But naming your business?
Naming your business is a creative process.
(And by the way, so is naming anything, writing anything, and getting any ideas.)
And as with any creative process, you can’t slap down a set of rules and force it out of your brain. You just can’t.
You have to ALLOW it. Ideas arise. They don’t “get thought.”
In fact, in spite of the title of this article, there IS no three-step tried-and-true formula for coming up with the perfect business name that will always be the right business name.
But since everyone wants steps, here are three. These work every time. But not always in a linear way…
1 - Give yourself PERMISSION
Permission to not have a clue what your business should be called right now.
Permission to do this badly.
Permission to continue living with the lame name you came up with a few years ago when you were on the treadmill.
Permission to let this evolve.
So, maybe you already have a name, but no one pronounces it right. Or maybe your name turned out to be the name of another business in your industry. Okay, fine. We all have things in our businesses that need changing. Why rush now?
The problem with rushing is that you will end up with a name you hate because you forced something to happen that wasn’t yet ready to arrive.
2 - Get your business PHILOSOPHY
Here’s an assignment.
Take your whole reason for having a business, for doing what you do and how you do it – and break it down into five core business philosophies. Basically the WHY of what you do. These don’t have to be perfect. Don’t go for poetry. And don’t try to make a sign that you will someday post in the bathroom stalls at your corporate headquarters.
Write as if you were just talking. Or just speak into iTalk on your phone.
Pretend I sat down in front of you and said, “Okay, tell me five things you believe that made you create the business you have. Just talk to me.”
This doesn’t have to get completed in one session. Spend some time with this.
3 - Go on and PLAY with your business name
I know. I know. This is business. I’m supposed to be all “Argh! Be serious!”
But no. I want you to play.
Read through your five business philosophies. See what words keep repeating.
Go through your days, lightly holding on to the ideas you’ve come up with so far.
Ask your friends their opinions.
Keep a running list. And make sure you include the “bad” ideas on there. Often, our bad ideas lead us to the best ideas. Just play with business names.
You don’t have to be in a rush. If it takes a few weeks longer than you thought, big deal. Stop overthinking all of that mental BS and start playing with this. You’ll be surprised at the ideas that arise when you’re making dinner, or walking your dog, or driving to meet your sister for breakfast.
And yes, if you want to satisfy your inner lover of spreadsheets, there are then ways of testing your name to see if it’s clickable and track how people respond using heat maps and SEO know-how.
But consider this:
Apple didn’t do this. Neither did Virgin. Neither did The Gap. Neither did Tiffany, Nike or McDonalds.
And they all seem to be pretty okay about that.
We’re not looking for: “What will make them line up in droves?” We’re looking for what clicks inside of you. Something that feels “right.” That’s the first sign it’s a good name.
No matter what name you choose, there’s no guarantee it’ll be a name that will make your business soar.
That part is up to how you RUN and make your business scalable.
CONFESSION: This article was written in response to an actual question I received from one of my Uplevel Your Business students. I’d LOVE for you to help him, too! In the comments, share with us your business name – and whether or not it “clicks” for you – and if so, how you came up with it!
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