What’s In a Name?

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You’ve made the exciting decision to start your own business.  You have looked long and hard to recognize the skills that you have, and just as important, the skills that you don’t have.  You know what type of business you want to start.  Now it’s time to choose a name.

Deciding upon your business name (just like picking the names of your children) is very important.  As a small business owner your name-your reputation-will be everything.  Your business name should be one that touches you but it also needs to tell your potential clients exactly what it is you do.  It should also produce a positive response from them.  Keep it simple; it will be easier to remember.  Avoid unusual spellings; you don’t want prospects not to be able to find you on the web because they can’t spell your name.  Some business owners choose to start the name of their business with the letter “A” so that it will appear first on lists.  You might not want to include the name of your hometown unless you are sure you will not move.

Many of us have a good idea what we would name our business, but for those who don’t it might be helpful to check out www.thesaurus.com to look through some starter words.  If you are still stuck there are Business Name Generators on the internet you could review.  Make lists.  Sound the names out. Choose a couple of names that you would be happy with.

Next, take your list of favorites and find out which ones are available.  Be sure to visit the free online resource NOLO for legal information on name and trademark registration.  It is very important that you check with The Thomas Register and the US Patent and Trademark Office to do a trademark search for your list of names.  You want to see if any of them are registered, unregistered, or DBA (doing business as).  If someone else already has the name, you can’t use it.  You also want to look at registered names that are similar to yours.  You would not want your business name to be confused with a business that has an alike name.  Check with your local country clerk’s office to see if your names are registered as another business in your area.  I also did a quick Google search.

After you have decided upon a couple of choices and ensured that they are available to use (not trademarked, registered, or closely associated with another business), ask the opinions of friends, family members, and/or close associates for their opinion of your names.  After I narrowed mine down to 4-5 names, I had family over for dinner.  I provided a “ballot” to each of them with my list of names and asked then to vote for their favorite.  Luckily, the majority chose my favorite name, Another You.

Your business name may be the first impression your potential clients have of you.  People will see it on your business cards, website, and advertising.  A clever name may not tell prospects what you do-which defeats the purpose.  Your goal in naming your small business should be one that you like, one that is easy to remember, and one that tells what you do or the services that you provide.

About the Author:  Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Virtual Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area.  Sheri helps small business owners save time, money and frustration by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks.  Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business.    www.anotheryouerrands.com  937-416-2207

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Starting a Business: The Decision

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Webster describes a decision as “a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration.”

I was a Medical Office Manager for 32 years.  I managed the day-to day activities of the office, multiple physicians, 25 staff members, and a practice full of patients.  Hiring, billing, collections, insurance, etc., need I say more?  It was a difficult, stressful job but one where I gained a wide variety of skills.

In January 2013, I lost my job.  The year before, our private practice was purchased by a large, corporate hospital network.  Not long after the practice made it through the 8 month, tough transition, the Network let me go.

After 8 weeks of mourning the loss of my career, I had some hard decisions to make.  At that point, I really did not know what I wanted to do but I sure knew what I didn’t want to do.  I did not want to manage medical offices.  I did not want to work for people that I could not trust and did not respect me.  I did not want to work for a large hospital network.  What did I know?  I knew that I had the discipline to work for myself and had always wanted to give it a try.  I knew that I had countless beneficial administrative skills; if you can manage a medical office you can do about anything!  I knew that as a wife, mother, and practice manager, I had assisted people all of my adult life.  So what type of business would be right for me?

It was my knowledge that people in Hollywood and other large cities have Personal Assistants.  But did people in Dayton, Ohio have them?  I did some research and found that there were Personal Assistants in large cities that ran errands for busy people and organizations.  They performed tasks such as shopping, scheduling appointments, and taking cars in for maintenance and pets in for shots.  They waited in homes for repairmen, organized paperwork and home offices, and ran errands.  I could do these things!  As well as running medical practices, I had managed our household for 34 years.  Additional research found that there was one woman in Cincinnati and two in Columbus that were working as Personal Assistants.  I could find no one in the Dayton area…I was on my way!

Decisions.  “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”~ Theodore Roosevelt.  It is a huge decision to start your own business.  Can I do this?  What if I fail?  What if I succeed?   What would success look like for me?  What will others think?  Will I be supported by the people in my life that are important to me?  Will I be able to make enough money for my household?

So I put together a simple, makeshift business plan and sat down with my husband.  Next, I spoke to my parents, family members, and a few close friends.  Luckily, I was supported by most-even though a few looked at me like I was out of my mind.  The decision was made.  I knew what the business was going to look like now what would I call it?  Another decision.

I had a small dinner party with my closest family members. After dinner, I passed around a list with my top 5 choices for the name of my business and asked them to vote for their favorite.  That evening Another You was born!

People often say that they find it hard to make decisions.  Unfortunately, we all have to make them, ranging from what to wear to life-changing decisions like who to marry and if to start a business.  The decision, for me, was not easy and neither was that first year!  But here I am, 4 and a half years later, and Another You is alive and well!  It did take a different path than what I had planned (which I will discuss in a future post) but I am in business and happier than I have ever been.  I am so glad that I made that difficult decision.  This is what success looks like to me!

About the Author:  Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Virtual Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area.  Sheri helps small business owners save time, money and frustration by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks.  Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business.        www.anotheryouerrands.com  937-416-2207

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