You don’t have to have everything sorted before you start trading, but there are a few things you can do as you set up that will help with credibility and focus attention on what you’re building.
Don’t underestimate the power of the name. Whether you make your own name part or all of it, or whether you create a brand new name is up to you and there are benefits to each. The type of business and sector you’ll be working in will have a bearing on this too.
Your own name
Using your own name is a good idea if you have a previous professional reputation and/or in a service-based business. This is usually professional or trades-based e.g. Milly Evans Accounting or Dave Downing Decorating. This works well when it’s only you in the business or if you are trading as a consultant. But if you wanted to expand at a later date or take on staff or a partner/investor, it may not be so ideal.
A fictitious or combination of words to make a name
- Do a brainstorm of names and words that appeal to you. Do they also have a relevance or association with your business sector or product? It is a good idea if you business name does in some way as it will help potential customers understand what you do or sell.
- Once you have a short-list, ask some people what they think of them and what they make them think of. You may be surprised as some of the responses, but bear in mind that people will often make different or unexpected associations with words than what you do. It’s better to know this before you register your company name.
- Check your preferred business names or short-list with people who don’t speak English as a first or only language. Again you may be surprised at the meanings of your business name when it’s heard or spoken in non-English speaking communities or audiences.
- If your short-list is still looking good, your next step is to head to the internet and use your favourite search engine to check that there aren’t other companies already trading or websites using any of your preferred names already. You can also check with Companies House for UK-based company registrations
- By now you should be down to one or two possible names. This is the time to contact a Domain Registry company to find out whether you preferred names are available as web addresses for registration. Again your favourite search engine will be useful for this.
- You may not be in a position to be thinking about building a website yet, but securing and registering your preferred web addresses is a prudent thing to do at this point. Your domain registration provider will also be able to advise you on how to set up an email address against your new web address, even if you don’t have an active website e.g. email@example.com. This gives a more professional impression than using one of the free email clients such as yahoo or gmail, which are more appropriate for personal communications.