There is a saying by Suzy Kassem stating that “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” I agree with Miss Kassem 100% and I would like to add something to her wisdom:
Most people never get to fulfill their dreams of doing what they love, running their own business, and spreading their pixie dust to make the world a better place. And it's not that they don't have a good idea or suffer from acute lack of courage. No. It's just that they never come around to take that first step.
At some point in your life, starting is all that matters. It's not the most difficult thing you'll ever do, but it's probably the bravest. It takes courage to make a change when facing the unknown.
Yes, finishing strong takes guts, grit and vision, but you build those qualities along the way. So, let me repeat that one one more time:
Starting something new is scary and it goes against our human nature — we are creatures of habit after all, we shun change as if our lives depended on it (because they probably did). But taking that leap of faith gives you something precious — it gives you hope that you can figure everything out along the way.
I call it the 'If-I-can-do-this-I can-do-anything chain reaction'. It's a state of mind you enter when you take the first step towards your goal. And given enough time you can prove yourself right over and over again. And this is how dreams come true - one tiny hop of faith at a time. But that's another tale for another time.
Today, we'll talk about one of the first steps you need to take to launch your business.
So how do you start your business?
Whether a side hustle or a full time operation, the first thing to do is to write down everything that's in your head and start building your business action plan. The second thing is to find a suitable name for your budding business.
Remember: the most important thing when starting out is creating value and and connecting to your dream customer. It's not spending months on naming your business or designing your brand and then tweaking each and every detail to perfection until the end of times. No.
Does it really matter what I call my business?
As I said, there are more important things than your name, but there’s nothing wrong about being smart and strategic about it. And yes, it does matter. Your business name is the first impression your dream client will get from you. It’s your website, your Instagram account, and so on.
So today, I’d like to help you get this little detail out of your way so you can focus on what matters most — your magic. Because as important as a business name is, your story of why you are doing what you are doing, the value you provide to your customers, and the strong connection you are building with them, are a thousand times more important than what you're calling yourself.
That being said, let’s make sure you choose the right name for your business from the very beginning of your business journey.
What’s the most important thing when choosing a name?
Is it to come up with something catchy? Smart? Something your tribe will love? Yes, all those things are important. But the most important thing is this:
YOU (yes you, my dear) will have to absolutely, undeniably, 110% love, love, love it! It’s your business, it’s your dream, it’s your heart you’re putting out there. If you have any doubts, if you’re not sure, if you're “meh-I-don’t-know”, keep looking—your heart will know when you’ve found The One (as it always does, but we are stubborn humans with big pretty brains, who refuse to listen and do stupid things, and oh my, the regrets and heartbreak afterwards!)
How I did it?
I love naming things. I write science fiction stories and naming characters is one of my most favorite parts of plotting a story. But not just that — I name mundane things like my washing machine, my alarm clock, my bullet journals (my main one is called Jane, by the way, after Jane Austen), and everything else at home.
That being said, I would've named my business linachervenkova.com if my name wasn't practically unpronounceable for the majority of the Earth's population. You can try it yourself if you don't believe me: cher-'ven-ko-va — try saying cher- as in cherry, ven- as in vending machine, ko- as in comma and va- as in van... Crazy, right?
So I decided to make it all about what I do best — brand design, slow mindful living, and making up fairy tale worlds. I sat down, did some research and came up with Mindful Pixels. I loved it from the start and it felt good to say it out loud. The words matched my business goal and quirky personality and somehow they made perfect sense together.
1. conscious or aware of something.
Also (made up by me):
2. full of ideas and tingling with life.
3. caring, compassionate, loving.
1. a minute area of illumination on a display screen, one of many from which an image is composed.
Also (made up by me):
2. a fearless pixie who lives on the world wide web and helps creative women follow their dreams and fulfil their destiny.
The four main types of brand names
After years of browsing the internet and researching brands, I've noticed that the majority of the business names out there fall into one of the four categories:
It's simply your name, or your name with a short description of the type of your business. It's always a good idea to secure that domain, even if you don't intend to use it right away. This is probably the easiest and best naming option, since you can build any type of business around your personality and you are free to explore new business directions without changing your business name.
Examples: linachervenkova.com, marieforleo.com, neshadesign.com
It's a non-descriptive, but attention grabbing word combination. This is a good option for you, if your name is either too common, or non-pronounceable (like mine), or you simply don't want to call your business after yourself. Such name won't be too descriptive of what you do and you'll be able to tweak your business direction as you grow.
Examples: mindfulpixels.com, juneletters.com, paperanoats.com
It's a name that describes your business right away. This option is for you if you are absolutely sure what you want to offer and you are certain you won't change your business direction too much in the future. It's a great name option for an additional domain. You can have your main site (yourname.com) and a secondary site where you offer one specific thing to a targeted group of people, such as your online course or a collection of products.
Examples: thebrand-stylist.com (main website is fionahumberstone.com), b-school.com (main website is marieforleo.com), thecontractshop.com (main website is christinascalera.com)
It's a full sentence, usually something that describes an action. This option can be used either as catchwordcombo.com or as descriptivename.com, depending on what sentence you choose. It's a good alternative for those two — on one hand, you have bigger chances to find the domain name you want, on the other, the name can be long and therefore tiresome to work with. It's a great option if you want your audience to take a specific action or if you want to make a statement.
Examples: goinghometoroost.com, starttherightbusiness.com, trashisfortossers.com
How to choose a name for your business?
Get your copy of the Choose Your Business Name workbook here and let's find The One:
do a wild BRAINSTORM session
First, shut off all distractions (phone and internet included) and set up a timer for one hour. No, this isn’t a joke — you don’t have your whole life to spend on finding a name. One hour is enough to come up with plenty of ideas. Don’t worry, you’ll get more time for the choosing process.
Grab the workbook and a notepad or open a new document on your computer. Start with the the names that are already in your head. Do this fast, without any thinking, just spill your ideas onto the blank sheet. Don’t attempt to sort anything just yet—make a simple list, nothing more. Just come up with as many names as you possibly can as quickly as you can. Here are some ideas:
- Sum up your business in 10-20 words.
- Write down 10-20 descriptive words for your dream customer (such as feminine, wild, boho, etc.)
- Describe the services you'll provide to her (jewellery, aromatherapy, business coaching, etc.)
Your hour is probably gone by now and your pages should be filled with over 100 of words, phrases and idea provoking ink blotches and typos.
Get your timer ready again (one hour should be enough) and let's mint some real names. So far you have a large collection of words and phrases. Go through it three times:
- Transfer all the names that sound great already.
- Combine words and write down those that sound well together or added to your name.
- Create short sentences that sound good to you.
- make it too long.
- use unusual spellings
- use something too similar to an established business you know.
- use offensive, controversial or adult language.
TAKE A BREAK
When you have 50 good names, go walk the dog, brew a cup of mint tea, watch an episode of The Big Bang Theory, eat lunch with your beau, call your mum to ask her for that vegan black bean burgers recipe. Do something relaxing for an hour or so. Give your brain a chance to re-calibrate and your names, the time to rise (yep, that's a baking reference).
When you're back, it’s time to bake your X-Factor contestants (that doesn’t sound very delicious, does it?)
How to decide if a name is good for you
After you have around 50 possible names in your contestant list, start considering them one by one. There are four tests I use to decide if a name is suitable for a project or not:
The Availability Test
Usually if the domain is taken it means the business name is taken too. So do these two steps for all names first and strike all names that are already taken. If you're left with no names, repeat the brainstorming session.
- Check availability first - I use Squarespace domain search to find out if a domain name is free or not. Also, check Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. If it isn’t free, strike it through and move on.
- If it is free, google it and see what kind of businesses use similar names. You don't want to be associated or mistaken with something offensive or inappropriate.
The Language Test
Go through all remaining names and consider how they are spelled and how they sound.
- Check the translation in several major languages, especially if your target market includes those.
- Say it out loud, as if you're introducing your business to somebody or making a video.
- Write it down as a link and see how it looks together. Sometimes words put together can build another word, which can lead to potentially embarrassing situations.
The Human Test
When you've eliminated the inappropriate and the unpronounceable names, it's time to turn to real people. Ask your family what they'll chose and why. Discuss all possibilities with your friends. Don't follow every advice you are given, but at least make sure you test your ideas on living, thinking, feeling human beings.
The Intuition Test
This is the last and most important test. Sit back, breathe and listen to your gut. If a name is 'perfect', but it doesn't feel right, it ain't gonna work for you, my love. You need to adore your business-brand baby name 1367%. Answer these questions:
1. Is this a great name for my business?
2. Will I love it 5 years from now?
3. Can I build an empire (be it a tiny online one) around it?
Pick your name
And now it's time to pick the one name that feels amazing, when you think of it: type it in the address field of your browser, write it down on paper, imagine it on your business cards. Does it make you feel proud when you say it out loud? Can you imagine building an online home (more commonly known as a website) behind it? If yes, you’ve got your business name and now it’s time to reserve it, brand it and start doing your magic.
Get the workbook
To make the process easier, I've created a 10-page workbook for you.
And that's it! Of course, you can always open two random pages of a thesaurus and put together the first two words that you see. But if you are methodical pixie, who loves lists and planning tools and would rather put some thought into it, here's what to do next:
Step 1 | Clear out your schedule for an afternoon.
Step 2 | Download the workbook and either print it, open a fresh text document, or find the next blank page in your business bullet journal.
Step 3 | Go through the workbook and choose your business name.
Step 4 | Leave it aside and have a great evening with the people you love.
Step 5 | The next day, make The Intuition Test again and if you still are utterly and completely in love with your name, register it everywhere.
Step 6 | Come back to the Mindful Pixels blog and leave a comment: let me know what name you've chosen, why and where to find you next.