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How to Choose A Name For Your Business

by Leva Duell

Choosing a name for your business is important. Select it carefully.

Be sure your business name fits these criteria:

  • Indicate what kind of business you are in.
  • Easy to remember.
  • Distinctive - stand out from your competition.
  • Catch the client's attention.
  • Create a professional image.
  • Inspire clients to buy from you.

Which of these has more appeal? HyperTyper or Judy's Word Processing? "HyperTyper" tells what Gloria Laube of La Mesa does. Not only does she type, but she types fast. Many people have commented they choose Gloria's services because of her business name.

A Promotional Tool

The right name is an effective advertising tool. If it doesn't describe the nature of your business, potential clients may not realize that you offer something they need.

Choose a name that is simple and easy to remember. You want your clients to be able to pronounce it and spell it. They also have to remember it to call information when they lost your phone number. For example, which of these is easier to remember: "Bob's Graphics," or "La sécretere Rapide?"

The first letter of your business name will affect where you are listed in the Yellow Pages. Keep your name short - a long name increases your advertising cost.

List Characteristics

List all the characteristics of your business. Find synonyms. Check several categories in the Yellow Pages and look for existing names you like. Play with combinations and variations of all of the above.


Think, brainstorm and you will come up with ideas that fit your needs. The process of brainstorming involves the interaction among several people where each throws out ideas. Send a short survey to your friends and business associates. Have them vote from 1-10.

If you offer secretarial services, try using any of these descriptions in a name: Word Processing, Secretarial Services, Transcription/Transcribing, Medical Transcription, Legal Transcription, Office Support, Desktop Publishing, and Graphic Design.

Should you Use your Own Name?

Using your own name, followed by the type of service works well if you have a reputation in your specialty. An example is "Jim Smith's Medical Transcription" or "John Doe's Legal Transcription." Looking like a one-person organization makes your business more personalized. People like to deal with the same person rather than with different people each time. Try your own name in combination with any of the above. Add words such as professional, excellent, reliable, fast, express, and creative

Test Your Name

Once you have chosen a few names, test them out on friends and family, potential clients and everyone you know. Ask them what kind of service they think you provide and what feeling they get about the name. Check the fictitious business names to be sure nobody else uses the same name.

Register Your Fictitious Business Name (D.B.A.)

If you want to operate your business under a name other than your personal name, e.g., John Doe doing business as "Typing Plus," the county, city, or state may require you to register your fictitious name. Registering your business name also prevents others from using it.

Procedures vary from state to state. In many states, you pay a registration fee to the county clerk at the county office. Some states require placing a fictitious-name ad in a local newspaper. The newspaper printing the legal notice for your business name usually files the necessary papers with the county for a small fee. Check your local papers and shop around as prices vary drastically. Papers with smaller circulation are less expensive.

Your bank may require a fictitious-name registry to open a business account. Call your bank or local city courthouse to find out the procedure for your area.

Fictitious-name filings do not apply to corporations in most states unless the corporation is doing business under a name other than its own. You won't need to register a fictitious business name if your own name is part of your business name because the registration's purpose is to protect your clients by making it public knowledge who owns the business.

Sample Of Fictitious Business Names: A Way With Words, Anderson Typefast, Creative Computer Graphics, Office Specialist, Fast Fingers, Hypertyper, Marathon Computer Words, Robin to the Rescue, SOS Word Processing, The Branch Office, The Office Extension, The Secretary, The Steno Pool, Word Processing Emergencies

After selecting your business name, you can create your logo, letterhead, envelopes, and business cards.

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