By: Bob Buxton, of

Are you having trouble coming up with a name for your new business? If so, you are not alone. Coming up with the right business name is no easy task. You don’t want to get it wrong, after all. There is so much riding on the success of your business and it’s normal to worry that a name can make or break a new company. All that being said, it is also necessary to make this decision and get on with building your business. The more time you spend deliberating on a name, the less time you are spending bringing in revenue.

You can do this. You can give your business the right name and feel good about it. Read on to discover some actionable advice you can use to name your business.

Actionable Advice – How to Name Your Business

1. Develop a mission statement.

“I thought this was an article on how to name your business!”

This article is definitely here to help you come up with a name for your business. But the best names tend to come only after entrepreneurs have done the heavy lifting required to understand their business. You can’t really decide on the perfect name if you don’t know what your business is about. Your business may focus on lawn care, for instance. But to you as the owner, you may be in business to give homeowners a beautiful outdoor environment for them and their families. Writing a mission statement can require some time and effort, but it is worthwhile because it helps you pinpoint what you do and why you do it. Once you know those things, it becomes easier to come up with a name that means something to you and your market.

2. Decide what you want your name to convey.

A name can say a lot, very little, or too much. The idea with a business name is to say as much as you can about your business so that you don’t have to explain yourself. If you named your lawn care business “Grass” you would probably have to answer questions all of the time about what you do. Including the words “lawn care” would simplify things for you and your customers. Of course, you don’t want to get too detailed. No one wants to read or say “Grass Lawn Care and Sod Installation Services of the San Fernando Valley.” The goal is to find the sweet spot, where you convey the information you need to convey without going overboard.

3. Spend several brainstorming sessions thinking of names.

Anything worth doing is worth doing right. You cannot expect yourself to come up with the perfect name off of the top of your head. While it can happen, it’s far more likely that you will need to think carefully about names and do plenty of brainstorming. Decide to spend a set period of time brainstorming names – like 30 minutes – and then do the same thing tomorrow and maybe the next day. After several sessions over a period of days, you will have a decent list of potential names.

Try not to be critical of your ideas at this stage. Just get them out of your head and written down. Feel free to be creative and silly. Let your mind wander and do some free association. You might be surprised at what you can come up with when you allow yourself to relax and maybe even get a little weird. Remember, you don’t have to use any of these names. You are just trying to come up with as many potential ideas as possible.

4. Sort your list.

Now is the time to get more analytical. Go through your list and eliminate any names that are obviously not going to work. Sort the remaining names as you see fit, such as names that are similar to each other, names that are more descriptive, names that are more creative, and so on.

You already have an idea of what you want to convey in your name. Depending on your market and your offerings, you may now realize that some categories of names just won’t work. For instance, if you are offering financial services you may not want to seem too flippant in your name. If you are offering mural painting services you may want to sound more creative.

In the end, you should have five or ten names that seem like good possibilities.

5. Get some outside advice.

You may have been doing all of these steps on your own or with your partner. Take some time to reach out to others that you respect and get their input on your potential names. You can also run the names by people who are similar to your target market. See how others feel about the different names so you get multiple perspectives.

6. Choose your top three.

Only you can be sure which names seem right for your business. You are the final decision maker. Use your best judgment and the insights you got from talking with others to pick your top three. Rank them from most desirable to least desirable.  

7. Verify that the name is available.

The names you like may or may not be available. You need to be sure that your name is not being used by another business and that you can register with your state authorities. Do some searching online to find out if other businesses are using the name. You can also do a name search with your state government to verify that no one has registered the name officially.

The last thing you want to check is whether a domain is available with your name. With an available domain, you can use your business name as the web address of your business.

If your name is available, you are done with naming your business! Congratulations. And if it’s not available, just go down your list and check availability for the next name you like. You will eventually hit the sweet spot and have the right name for your new venture!

Update in 2021: Check out to help with the business naming process!