5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Naming Your Business

As frightening and nerve-wracking as starting a new business can be, it’s also a very exciting time. Part of that excitement comes from the blue sky of opportunities and options available to you as you begin to set your own path. A major part of this process includes choosing a name for your business, which, as it turns out, is often easier said than done.

Just as getting a business off the ground in general is almost always a challenge, finding the perfect name for your company is a tall task in and of itself. After all, this will (hopefully) be the way customers will know, talk about, and write about your business for many years to come. Because of this, there are a few questions you should ask yourself as you search for the right business name.

Is it taken?

If you have a potential name or perhaps even a few monikers in mind for your business, one of the first things you should do is ensure that it is not currently in use. This not only means running a trademark search to avoid any legal issues but also looking into web domain names and social media handles. Of course, if your absolute first choice for a URL or username is taken but you still like your business name overall, there are still clever ways around that, such as tacking a word that sums up what your business does onto the end of your domain name. Still, you should take this lack of availability into your final naming decision.

Does it pass the radio test?

Another major aspect to consider when naming your business is whether customers will be able to pronounce and/or spell it. That’s why there’s the “radio test.” This simply refers to the idea that your business name should be easy to both pronounce when seen and spell when heard. As a result, you may want to avoid numbers, homophones, or other confusing elements that could cause a hindrance to someone trying to read or type your business name and website address.

While one could argue that the social media and the amount of time we spend communicating in text as opposed to spoken language is making this test less important, that line of thinking could be doing you a disservice. For example, a would-be customer may come across your business when performing a search or browsing Facebook and intend to visit your site at a later time. However, when that time comes, they may have forgotten the quirky way you spelled your name, leading to difficulties finding you. As you can see, this could easily lead to lost sales.

Does it fit your business (now and later)?

This is perhaps that single most difficult and yet most important part of naming a business: choosing a name that fits. Often times this can lead to a Goldilocks scenario as you try to avoid names that are too obscure or too on the nose on a quest to find one that’s just right. Furthermore, there are dozens of other considerations that will play a part in determining whether a name is actually a good fit.

Even if a name works well for your business now, what happens if you decide to expand? For example, you may find choosing a name with regional flavor or that even includes a city/state name sounds good when you’re starting off, but how will such names play if you decide to enter new territories in the future? Similarly, pigeon holing your business with a very product-specific name could lead to an identity crisis should you later choose to widen the scope of your company. These are the types of issues you’ll want to work out now before a costly rebranding is needed down the road.

Do your friends and family like it?

If you’re stuck choosing between a few different names, it may be worth asking people close to you what they think of your options. However, instead of just getting a “yes” or “no” answer from them, be sure to ask them what they specifically like or don’t like about each name. That way, even if you don’t get a consensus, you at least have some constructive criticism to consider after the fact. Additionally, hearing their feedback might inspire you to make some smart tweaks to your name or perhaps lead you to come up with a new one entirely.

Do you like it?

Although creating a focus group of friend and family can produce some valuable insight, at the end of the day, it’s your business and your decision to make. After all, the people your soliciting for advice may not have the same knowledge of the market you’re looking to enter or of business in general as you do. That’s why, to a certain extent, it’s important to trust your gut and go with what you ultimately think is best.


Of all the pressures and issues that arise when starting a new business, finding a name can be among the most challenging. However, by asking yourself these important questions and carefully considering all the pros and cons of your choices, you can surely dream up a business name you can be proud of.

This article by Jonathan Dyer originally appeared on Business2Community.

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