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Help for Naming a Business

hello.jpgBusiness idea? Check. Business plan? Check. Funding lined up? Check. Business name? Crap.

For some would-be entrepreneurs, choosing a business name can be as labor intensive as raising the first round of venture capital. Picking a name is hard. It has to be something memorable without being cliche or similar to an existing name. If you're just starting out, do you create a business name that says what you do? What happens when you expand the scope of your business to include baseball and basketball but the original name of your business is Football Equipment Distributors? You could probably change to Sports Equipment Distributors, but you've lost the brand that took years to build. What's an entrepreneur with namer's block to do?

Family can help (like a 4-year-old helps rake leaves). Friends might offer good solutions, or they might say they'll help out only to drink all the beer out of your fridge and leave with a severe case of brain lock: "Bummer, dude."

You could hire a high-paid consulting company to come up with a moniker that makes sense. Or, you could enlist the services of people all over the world for a hundred bucks. Namethis is the creation of the folks at kluster, and they promise three "world validated" names in 48 hours. Here's how it works, according to namethis.com:

  • Someone posts a product or service in need of a name.
  • Our members go to work, suggesting names and/or investing points in their favorites.
  • After 48 hours of brainstorming, our system does some fancy math and crowns the winners.
  • We take money out of each naming fee and distribute it to the members who create/influence the top three.

Right now on the site, there is an effort to name Bristol Palin's baby--Vice, Nuclear, Timber, Grizzley, Mav Rick, to name a few. Community members are also trying to name an international software development company and to a web-based enterprise survey/polling application. Each project seems to generate dozens, if not hundreds, of name ideas. The community votes and the system uses some formula to decide the top three.

No need to hire anyone. No need to wrack your own brain. No commitment to use any of the names generated, either.

Mike Werling, the managing editor of Sea Magazine, has written for Entrepreneur.com, Senior Market Advisor, Boomer Market Advisor and Broadmoor magazines.

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