As a budding entrepreneur, starting up in business is an exciting time, and no more so than when you get to choose the name of your business. It’s a good idea to get the name right first time. Even though you can change the name of your company name at any time, it takes time and energy that would be better focused on getting your business off to a good start.
A good name doesn’t have to be hard to come up with, as long as you use your common sense and take a few pointers from your professional advisers. Many London based accountants can offer valuable start-up advice, including the best legal structure for your business, the legal registration procedures involved and traditional accountancy services such as business plans, cashflow projections, budgets and trading forecasts. They may also have some good advice when it comes to company names.
1. Does it say what it does on the tin?
Why make it complicated when straightforward will do? Sometimes, the best policy is to choose a name that simply states your business activity. You can include your own name or the location in the business name, if you think this is important. However, rather than dreaming up elaborate word concoctions, something like ‘The Bristol Bathroom Company’ or ‘Williams Automotive Services’ may be all that’s required.
It’s worth remembering that your brand name is not necessarily the same as your company name. You may decide to trade as ‘Will’s Wheels’ while using ‘Williams Automotive Services’ as your registered name for official purposes, and for invoicing.
2. What’s your brand?
If the self-explanatory business name approach doesn’t appeal to you, think about building your business brand. Start by sketching out the sort of image you wish to portray. Quirky and creative? Trustworthy and reliable? Warm and caring? Dynamic and go-getting? You can do it all with your business name without stating your activity.
Take well known global brands such as Apple, Amazon, Nike, Google, Pepsi, Marlboro, Budweiser… You wouldn’t have the first clue about their business activity if you didn’t know the brand, would you? Use imagery and colour to reinforce what you wish your brand to say about you.
3. Think about the future
Your empire may be in its fledgling stage but with grit and determination, it will flourish and grow into a bigger business. If you wish to diversify or change direction at a later stage, it may be advisable to choose a generic name that won’t tie you down.
Using the example above, ‘Williams’ Automotive Services’ may well start with ‘Will’s Wheels’ but there’s nothing in the business name to stop the company from offering MOTs or bodyshop repairs a few years down the line.
4. Don’t forget the internet
In our digital age, it would be naïve to think that any start-up could manage without an internet presence. In fact, your website, digital marketing strategy and social media exposure are an easy and obvious way to quickly gain traction in your chosen field.
It therefore makes complete sense to choose your business name together with an available domain name. For a belts and braces approach, make sure you purchase both the .co.uk and .com variants. Not only will this protect you from competitors buying ‘your’ domain name, it’s also a good way to guard against identity fraud.
5. Are there any legal issues?
Before you go ahead with any business name, make sure you’ve checked that there are no restrictions on the name you wish to use. Companies House has a list of ‘sensitive’ words and expressions that you cannot use. These include business names that would falsely imply some form of connection with a public body or the Government, or give the impression of some kind of endorsement, accreditation or membership.
Also bear in mind that if you are choosing a name for a limited company, it must be unique. No two limited companies are allowed to have the same business name.
Finally, you should carry out meticulous research to make sure your proposed name does not inadvertently include an existing protected brand name, as this would put you in breach of trademark law.
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