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How to choose the right business name for your new enterprise

September 27, 2011

One of the first things all business owners have to do is to choose a good name for their enterprise. Unlike other decisions you may make along the way, your business name could be with you for quite some time, so it is worth spending time to get it right first time.

Here are some business naming tips from the Bytestart team, based on our experiences working with other small enterprises over the years.

1. Think long-term – hopefully your enterprise will flourish in the future, so be careful not to choose too narrow a name, in case your branch out later on. For example, ‘London Replacement Car Batteries Ltd’ could be ‘London Replacement Car Parts Ltd’ instead.

2. Self-explanatory names? – you’ll need to decide if you want to include what you actually do in your business name (e.g. ‘shopfitter’, ‘graphic designer’, etc.), or choose a more generic or descriptive business name. This is very much a personal choice, which may also be influenced by naming conventions within your industry.

3. Domain Names? – you should research the available domain names for your preferred business names, as in an ideal world your domain name will be the same (or similar) to the name you choose for your business. Try our business domain name tips.

4. Beware of Trademarks – be careful not to incorporate other companies trademarks into your new business name, or image, for obvious reasons. Visit the Intellectual Property Office for more information.

5. Sole Trader or Limited? – if you want to set up as self-employed, why not reserve a limited company name just in case you decide to incorporate later? Read our dormant limited company guide for more details.

6. Various restrictions exist for business names – particularly if you’re setting up a ltd company. For example, you cannot imply that your business has a certain status or that its owners possess certain qualifications if they do not. Sole traders and partnerships cannot use the words ‘limited’ or ‘ltd’ in their business names.

7. Don’t mislead – your business name should not be misleading, or imply an association with an existing brand or business, unless you are running a franchise or have a similar agreement in place.

8. Is your name available? – for limited companies, you should use the Companies House WebCheck service to make sure that your chosen company name has not already been taken

9. Pretentious, moi? – although the temptation may be there to create a trendy name for your enterprise, this may not go down too well in some industries. It is always best to stick with sensible and memorable names.

10. Simplicity – above all, try to keep your business name as simple as possible. Potential customers and clients are more likely to remember simple snappy names, than long drawn-out over-engineered names.