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Naming Your New Business

Article written by Veechi Curtis

I remember spending weeks agonising over names for my first son, finally registering his birth on the last possible day. I found our shortlist the other day, written on the back of a hospital sick bag, and laughed aloud at some of the ridiculous names we considered.

Picking names isn’t easy, and there’s no doubt that the choice of a name influences the perceptions of others. In the same way, your business name creates its own personality, and is the first point of contact between you and your customers.

Here’s the low-down on the different kinds of business names: 

  • Domain name: If you want to have your business name as part of a Web site address, you need to register a domain name. For example, if your proposed business name is Red Rubies, a likely domain name is www.redrubies.com. However, do ask yourself whether you would be better with a generic business name that describes your product (and therefore makes you easier to find on the web), such as www.finejewellry.com.au.
  • Business name: In Australia, if you are a sole trader or partnership, you have to register a business name with the relevant department in your state. In New Zealand, you don’t need to register your business name, but you do need to check that nobody already has it.
  • Company name: If you incorporate as a company, you have to register a company name with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) or the New Zealand Registrar of Companies. In Australia, if you intend to have a trading name that’s different from your company name, then you also need to register this trading name in each state that you operate.
  • Trademark: If you want to buy exclusive legal rights to your business name, you must register a trademark with IP Australia or IPONZ New Zealand. See Small Business For Dummies to find out more about trademarks and patents.  
     

Biz Tip: When deciding the name of your future business, I strongly recommend that you start by checking the availability of domain names. For example, imagine that I have three possible ideas for a business name: Cupid Cupcakes, Cupid Cakes or Cherub Bakes. I look on the web, and find that www.cupidcakes.com has gone, as has www.cupidcupcakes.com. I try www.cherubbakes.com and (hardly surprisingly) this domain name is available. At only $40 or so a pop, I can purchase this domain name in a flash, before proceeding with the slightly more time-consuming and more expensive process of registering my business name.

 Small Business For Dummies For more detail about choosing domain names, registering business or company names, or about trademarks and patents, you can purchase your own copy of Small Business For Dummies from our online bookstore. Click here to order:

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