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October 26, 2010 / TechFemme

What Next? Time To Name Your Idea

This post is the second one in a series of posts that outline the first steps of launching a business idea.  The first post walks through the initial stages of defining your idea by making sure it addresses a problem that exists and attempts to solve it.

So you’ve determined that your idea seems legit enough to continue exploring .  Awesome.  While we’re still in the ‘Define Your idea’ series of stages, it’s time to pick a Name for Idea, as well as a URL.

1. Define Your Idea.

  • Define the Problem you are solving and Your idea as the Solution
  • Pick a name and URL
  • Draft Your Pitch and Pitchdeck

The natural initial inclination is to name your business a name that is related to your business.  Obviously.  But it’s important to remember strategy at this point too.

  • Do you want to have the flexibility to expand your business into different areas? eg. Amy’s Cupcakes vs. Amy’s Baked Goods
  • Will you focus on local business only or will you eventually want to expand nationally or internationally? eg. Miami Beach Cupcakes vs. The Cupcakery
  • If you plan to expand internationally, will your name translate properly?

Besides descriptive, types of names include:

  • Suggestive: they hint at what you do – eg. Groupon
  • Compound: words put together – eg. Dropbox, Facebook
  • Classical – eg. Pandora
  • Made-Up: new words – eg. Yola

Dharmesh Shah wrote a fantastic article about picking a name for a startup on his OnStartups.com blog.  His tips are outlined here but the article is a must-read for anyone in the process of naming or re-naming a company to get valuable details for each tip.

  1. Make sure it’s legal.
  2. Hint at what you do.
  3. Make it easy to remember.
  4. Make it unambiguous when spoken.
  5. Start early in the alphabet.
  6. The .com has to be ‘gettable’.
  7. The twitter handle has to be available.
  8. The Facebook page should be available.
  9. Keep it short.
  10. Don’t leave out vowels or add punctuation.
  11. Start with an uppercase letter.
  12. Don’t name your company after yourself.
  13. Don’t use an acronym.
  14. Have a story.
  15. Pay attention to character sequences in multi-word names.
  16. Seek timeless instead of trendy.

I don’t necessarily agree with all of his tips but he makes good arguments to consider about each one.

I’m a big fan of made-up names.  They’re easier to brand, patent and trademark.  If you grow big enough, people will relate your made-up name directly to your business, and may even use it as a verb (.  The chances of their .com domains being available are higher.  There are a few free web services that help you find a made-up name if you want one.  My current favorite is DomainTyperNameBoy is another popular one.

Even though there are many domains to choose from now, it’s still recommended practice to find something in the .com domain.  You can also point the same name in other domains to your .com URL but you have to have the .com.

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