Plus, everything you need to know about securing a trademark for it.
woman opening business
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Have you ever wondered how to turn your dreams of owning your own business into a reality? We can help. Each week, as part of our Self Made series, we showcase female entrepreneurs—as well as their quality, handmade goods—and share their best advice related to starting, maintaining, and growing your own business.

Ask any successful entrepreneur and they'll say the same: What you name your business is every bit as important as the product you're selling. "Your business name is almost always the first thing people will hear, so it needs to make a good first impression," says Ken Ott, co-founder of Metacake. "It has the opportunity to represent the heart, purpose, and personality of the brand. When crafted this way, it becomes a conversation starter that can lead to the reason behind why your business exists."

However, picking the right name to call your company is no easy feat. "You'll find that picking a business name is both an art and a science," Ott says. "A great business name is brief, unique, memorable, easy to spell, and communicates the brand's personality—but will also require an available '.com' domain name." Looking for more tips on how to name your business? We asked Ott for advice, and here's what he had to share.

Define your why.

Before you start thinking about a name for your business, Ott says to take time to identify the purpose and story behind your brand. "When brainstorming, a helpful trick is to ask yourself 'Why am I in business?' or 'Why am I starting this business?'" he says. "If you come at naming your business from this place of depth, it will be timeless. Your products or services and how you deliver them may change over time, but your purpose will still be present."

Write it out.

Once you've defined your why, Ott suggests writing out your mission statement—a short sentence about your single purpose as a business—as well as a list of core values and brand attributes. "Choose things you think people should know about your business and how it works," he says. "Once it's complete, you can go through the list and group similar words together into categories. For each group, pick one word to represent each category and put these summary words into a list that you can use to brainstorm names."

Brainstorm away.

When you're ready to start brainstorming names for your business, Ott recommends creating two columns on a piece of paper: one for existing names and another for imagined. "Existing names are ones composed of real words, like 'Apple', while imagined names have made-up words, such as 'Google'." However, he says there are pros and cons for each approach. "Existing names will be clear and understandable without much explanation, but marketing the name will be difficult as there will be more competition. Alternatively, imagined names require more explanation and definitions for the market audience, but obviously come with less competition."

Identify the competition.

With your list of potential business names in hand, Ott says to research each name online and note any competition—even if it happens to not be in your industry. "Look for any negative sentiment attached to names or trademarks that may already exist in your space," he says. "You can refer to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for help."

Select a domain. 

Once you've dwindled your list down to a select few names, Ott says it's time to select a domain name. "These days, your domain name is synonymous with your business name, and rightly so, because you want [yourbusinessname].com as your main domain," he says. "With that in mind, go through each name on your list and brainstorm what the domain name would be for each, and see if it's available or not. You can use any domain website like GoDaddy or Namecheap."


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