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how to come up with a name for your business…

how to come up with a name for your business... / via oh joy!

how to come up with a name for your business... / via oh joy!

Over at the Oh Joy! Academy, I've been teaching various topics for small business owners to help them grow and take their business to the next level. BUT, what if you don't already have a business and want to start one? I created this free PDF called, "What Kind of Business (or Side Hustle) Should I Start?" for those interested in the idea of starting something. Since then, I've been wanting to address some of the early business basics that comes after that. So today, we're talking about How to Come Up with a Name for Your Business!

Coming up with a name can be one of the hardest parts (creatively) of starting a business. It's easy if you have a business that can be your full name. Usually those who offer freelance services like photographer or illustrator use their names for their business. And sometimes, jewelry or handbag designers use their names (or a version of their name) as well. But, if the type of business you have doesn't make sense to tie your personal name to, then what? Here are a few of my tips for helping you come up with a business name…

1. Know Your Business. You can't come up with a name for it if you don't know what the business is and what you want to sell or offer others. Having even a basic mission statement is helpful for the naming process but also branding and everything else you'll need to do after you come up with a name!

2. Brain Dump. This is where you'll write a bunch of random words down that make you think of your business. Words that describe what you do, words that describe how you want your customers to feel, or even words that have meaning to you in some way (like a relative's name) that could be tied back to your business in some way. There are no wrong answers here. Writing words on paper will make you think of other words that you can also add to the list. Use a thesaurus or dictionary if it helps get your brain flowing even more.

3. Word Merge. Start to merge these words together—add phrases or specific name ideas here. This is where words and phrases that sound like business names start to come together. This list should be as long as you want. Try lots of options before heading to the next step. Depending on your type of business, this is where you want to consider if people can tell what you do by seeing your brand's name. In some cases, that's important. And, in some cases, the name just needs to be fun so you can tie in your brand with a logo and the rest of your visual branding.

4. Narrow Down and Test It. Now, narrow down the names you like best. Read them out loud. How do they sound? Are they easy to say and read? Type them like a pretend URL or an Instagram. Does the phrase look easy to read even when the words are smushed together? For example, you want to create a kids' play space called FUN DYNASTY. If you look at that like, it could read like FUNDY NASTY…which is NOT very cute for a kids' space. Try not to fall in love with a name too soon because they need to pass lots of logistical tests before making it THE ONE!

5. Research. Once you have a handful of names you like that pass those tests, research the names in more detail to make sure they aren't already being used. You never want to create a business name that someone else already has. Whether they have trademarked the name or not (and especially if they have), you don't want to start a business that could cause brand confusion or infringe on their business. Google your name idea, search social media apps to see if the name is available, and basically double check that your name is indeed original.

6. Start Again. Know that it's very normal to come across some bumps in this phase (especially after your research phase). If you find that a few of your favorite names are taken, start fresh again on another day with a new set of thoughts. It WILL come to you! 

7. The Friend Test. Once you have one or two that feel ready to go, share those with friends or family members that you trust and that give good, constructive feedback. You don't need to tell your whole Facebook friend list (sometimes too many opinions are really too many opinions). But, running the names by friends can be helpful, especially if you're torn between two options.

8. Finalize. Yay! You made it. You have a name that ties into your brand, is available to use, and some people you trust love it, too! Now, you are one step closer to creating the business (or side hustle) of your dreams…

Stay tuned for more business basics! If you have any specific questions on naming your business or anything else, please ask below! Have a great weekend all!

{Photo by Lily Glass. Written by Joy Cho.}


  1. The article is helpful is picking a name for my new line of business. Thank you. But I wish to know if searching for a name on social media is enough to know if the name has been used or there are other regulation laid down procedures for checking this.

    1. Hi Mukadas! Thanks so much! We suggest you looking at Trademark records too, and Google searches as well as looking at social media. Best of luck!


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