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Name Your Business!

by Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

It’s very exciting to make the decision to start your own business. You’ve chosen which skills you have to market, where to base the business and even how you’ll structure the business. And how exciting to not work for a boss, and to see your name on the door!

 But, wait, what name is going to be on the door? What are you going to call your new venture?

 Official Stuff

 There are, of course, some legal aspects to naming your business.

 If you choose to name your business with your own name, then you can do so without any further regulations. Adding anything to your name, such as Mary Jackson’s Plumbing, or choosing a different title will require you to register the business name.

 A business other than a company must register within the state or territory it operates in; companies must register with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC.)

 The fees for registering a business name vary between states, with $77 in Victoria being the cheapest. To register your business name, you will need to contact the appropriate office in your state or territory – a list of these contacts is available at


 So many choices!

 Naming your business is probably as hard and nerve wrecking as naming your children. You will consider a number of possibilities, weigh up different factors and use personal choice; if you’re lucky, this won’t take much time, but it may take weeks or months for some people.

 Remember that your business name is part of the initial impression your business makes on people, so it is worth taking care in the choice. Business names can be changed, but this is often a costly, time consuming process and may lose existing clients.

 Have some fun brainstorming ideas and researching other business names; be creative and unique, then use the guidelines below to narrow your choice down to the perfect name for your business!

 If at all possible, some market research into the name can help; market research can be as simple as asking friends and target clients what they think, or it could involve a market research company or some study or marketing resources.

 v     Availability – you can not use a name that is already in use as a business name. There is a free database of business and company names at http://www.search.asic.gov.au/gns001.html and via most state business departments. Check your name ideas before applying as you will not be granted the name if it’s in use.

v     Unique. You want your business to stand out, so don’t choose a name that is similar to your competitor’s; if you have competitors called ‘Pen Shop’ and ‘Pencil Stall’, try something like Drawing Tools. In terms of registering your business name, some closely related name choices will also be refused registration.

v     Trade mark. Ensure that your name doesn’t use anything protected by a trade mark. Details of existing trademarks and on registering your own can be found at http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/trademarks/search_index.shtml

v     Relevance. Whilst a business name doesn’t have to include the products or services to be successful, good business names often do; make sure that the name doesn’t mislead people, though. For instance, if you wanted to buy a saddle would you choose ‘Saddlery Australia’ or ‘Leather Seats’?

v     Professionalism. If you’re selling cute objects to little girls, a cutesy name will work well; that same name isn’t so effective for a professional working as a consultant.

v     Attention. The more interesting and attention grabbing the name, the better but only within the boundaries of appropriateness.

v     Length. As a general rule, shorter names work better; short is usually easier to remember and this becomes even more important if the business name is also the domain name. If your business name has more than three words, it may be worth looking for alternatives. Some longer names are catchy or obvious enough that they can work better than an uninspired short one.

v     Internet Presence. Even if you don’t expect to get a web site for some time, this is still an issue worth considering. The best domain names is your business name, so it is worth choosing a business name that will work as a domain name, too; you can check to see if the domain name is available to choose between names, too.

v     Spelling. Whilst words like “Olde”, “Kottage”, “Citi” and “Arte” may look cute or interesting, there is a risk that people will misspell them frequently. Misspellings may lose you clients through directories, web searches and word-of-mouth.

v     Location. Including your location in the name can be useful for localised businesses such as Fremantle Markets or a regional business like Flinders Ranges Services; it can also specify you as an Australian company if that is a selling point for you.

v     Abbreviations. It’s very common for Australians to abbreviate names, so look carefully at the name and consider possible abbreviations. If the abbreviations are unsuitable, try small modifications to fix it. It’s best to name your business with full words unless the acronym will mean something to potential clients; the Australian Tax Office was called the ATO long before they used it themselves as a domain name.

v     Diversification. Starting a new business, you may have a limited range of products or services to offer. Look ahead and think about what you want to offer in the longer term and allow for that expansion in choosing a name; ‘Outfits by Lisa’ has a longer term feel than ‘Skirts by Lisa.’

v     Trendy. Like other things, business names have fashions or trends; copying the latest naming trend may leave your business looking out-of-date in a few years time so avoid ‘products R us’ and ‘products.com’

v     Pronunciation. Make sure the name can be easily said and understood.

v     Alphabet. A number of businesses add one or more ‘As’ to their name in an attempt to be listed first in directories. However, adding ‘As’ for no other purpose looks like an advertising ploy and will alienate as many clients as it gathers. Good marketing and service is more valuable than being listed early in a directory.

v     Logo and tag line. If you already have a logo, make sure the name works with it; if not, keep in mind that a logo and tag line will need to be fitted to the name.


 Tash Hughes is the owner of Word Constructions, a professional writing service, and assists businesses in preparing all written documentation and web site content. Tash also writes parenting and business articles for inclusion in newsletter and web sites.

This article is available for free use on your web site or in your newsletter.

It must be acknowledged as written by Tash Hughes of www.wordconstructions.com.au and copyright remains the property of Tash Hughes.

Please notify us of your use of this article or to request information on commissioned articles.


© 2003 - 12, Tash Hughes