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Choosing the Best Name for Your Business

Understand the elements of a great name before you commit to one.
February 25, 2003

Q: I have been in the income tax business for 18 years, and this year I have just stepped out on my own. Now I need a name for my tax service business. Can you give me any ideas?

A: Choosing the right name for your business is a daunting task for many new entrepreneurs because there is so much at stake. Does your name stand out to prospects and customers? Or does your business get lost in the crowd? Does your name communicate the right message? Or does it inadvertently keep prospects from calling you?

To simplify the process of generating a name for your new venture, begin with a brainstorming session, asking yourself the following questions. This exercise will help you get ideas on paper so you have something to work with.

Your answers to these questions serve as "raw data" from which you begin to formulate a list of five to 10 possible names.

Evaluating Your Names
Once you've generated your list, how do you narrow it down to the names that possess the most potential? Ask yourself these questions:

Making Sure It's Available
After you've shortened your list to one or two "winners," how do you find out whether the name is available? One of the first places to start is the US Patent and Trademark Office. To check out available Web site domain names, log on to www.networksolutions.comor

Sean Lyden is the CEO of Prestige Positioning (a service of The Professional Writing Firm Inc.), an Atlanta-based firm that "positions" clients as leading experts in their field-through ghost-written articles and books for publication. Clients include Morgan Stanley, IFG Securities, SunTrust Service Corp. and several professional advisory and management consulting firms nationwide.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.