Naming your business entity is a very important step. You’ll want to choose a name that reflects your mission and brand identity. Avoid names that are long and confusing.
Sit down and give yourself a brainstorming session. Come up with a whole list of names that could easily represent your new business and try them out on a few potential customers, friends, family members, or anyone else you can think of. You’ll quickly know if it’s going to be memorable and work for you. If everyone says “Huh?”, you may need to consider a different business name.
Here’s one example of how to create a business name with meaning: Alaffia is a personal care products company. Their name means a state of peace, health, and wellbeing in Africa.
Now its your turn:
- Make a list of possible business names.
- Test out the names on friends and potential clients and narrow down the list.
Next you’ll also want to ensure you can get the matching domain name. One that truly represents your company.
First of all, what is a domain name?
Simply put, your domain name identifies your company’s address on the Internet. It lives in the browser tool bar no matter what browser you’re using. (Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.)
It may also be referred to as your URL or Web address depending on who you’re talking with. People use these terms interchangeably. For the purpose of this Handbook, we’ll call it a domain name.
It is important to choose a name that is:
- Easy for your customers and prospects to remember
- Easy to market and promote
- Keyword-rich (Keywords are a critical component of being found in the search engines. I’ll cover this in future blog posts.)
Here are a few key things to consider when choosing the best domain name.
Try to use your business name in your domain name.
For example, if your business name is Green Shoe Repair, try to use www.greenshoerepair.com. If the name you want is already taken and you’re committed to that name, check to see if it’s an ACTIVE domain name with a fully functioning site. If not, contact the current owner and make an offer to purchase the domain name. It’s very common for domain names to be bought and sold.
To check ownership, go to the “who is” site: http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp. If the current owner is not willing to sell, try to get the closest variation. On the other hand, if you’re just starting your business, you might prefer to choose the domain name first and then name your business after the domain name you’ve acquired.
If your business name is not available as a domain name, choose a domain name that best reflects your business and your customers.
People automatically turn to the Internet to buy products. Make it easy for them to find YOUR products by having a domain name that’s completely focused on them.
If you sell organic nutty fudge and someone’s out there looking for nutty fudge, your site will be first in line if its name is www.OrganicNuttyFudge.com.
Reserve your domain name right away, even if you’re not ready to use it yet.
Why? Because you’re competing with people around the world for that domain name. If someone buys it before you, then they own the rights to it for as long as they keep paying the fee, even if they never connect a website to it. That means you are out of luck unless you can convince them to sell you the domain name.
Choose the right extension.
The most common extensions are .com, .net, .org and .edu. The .com is for commercial entities and is the most common extension. It’s the first one your prospects and customers will use just by habit.
If possible, it’s always best to get .com.
Other common extensions include:
.org is reserved for non-profit sites
.net is for ISP (Internet service providers)
.edu is for academic sites such as universities and colleges
Countries can also have their own domains too such as .be for Belgium or .ca for Canada. Qualified U.S. corporations can purchase .us.
Alternative domain extensions are also available, such as .biz, .tv and .info, just to name a few. The list continues to grow as the demand for domain names increases.
You can choose one of these alternate extensions but it will make marketing a lot tougher for you. You’ll need to constantly remind your customers of your unusual extension or they’ll automatically type in .com when thinking of your business.
Choose A Consistent Domain Name And E-mail Address
For example, if your domain name is www.GreenShoeRepair.com, you should be consistent and name your e-mail address: yourname@GreenShoeRepair.com. Professionally, it really should match.
Important note! Here is some additional information about domain names:
- Make sure your name contains only letters, numbers and hyphens (-). No other characters are allowed.
- Your name can’t begin or end with a hyphen.
- Capitalization does not matter. Even if you use caps such as JansOrganicCookies—your name will end up in all lowercase on the Web (jansorganiccookies). So be sure to review your chosen domain name in all lowercase letters to make sure it truly matches your business name. For example, a company called Blake’s Tools might be misinterpreted as Blake Stools when you use it as a domain name: www.blakestools.com. You might even want to have someone else say it out loud so you don’t overlook any strange interpretations of it.
Now you’ve got the knowledge you need to select your domain name. Have fun seeing what is available.
- Make a list of possible domain names:
- Do a simple web search to see if anyone is already using that name. You can do this using the WHOIS database at Network Solutions. http://networksolutions.com/whois/
- Is the domain name you want available? If not, what are your 2nd or 3rd choices?
Drum roll please! Which name wins? Share the name of your new your social enterprise with us.
In the next blog post we’ll start the marketing journey and explore how to establish a solid brand for your enterprise.
In the meantime, please share more details about the social enterprise you want to create and the type of products you want to sell. Feel free to ask any questions you may have. I truly look forward to helping you launch and grow your business.
Enjoy your day and the world around you,
C S Wurzberger, The Green Up Girl®