6 Ways to Brainstorm a Business Name for Your Startup

There’s a lot of important decisions to make when starting a business. One important part is brainstorming a name for your startup.  

Choosing a great business name can be a lot of things – fun at first, but then quite strenuous, frustrating and time consuming.

CrowdSpring founder Ross Kimbarovsky, described his personally experience in an Entrepreneur article, “We spent over 50 hours in 2007 when we came up with ‘CrowdSpring.’ Some entrepreneurs can easily spend hundreds of hours – and thousands of dollars – searching for a perfect name, only to hit a creativity wall.”

Even though it is usually the quality of a company’s products and services that determine if it is good or bad, names do weigh into the decision. According to Time Magazine, 77% of consumers make purchases based on a brand name.

So if you’re looking to start a business and are in the process of brainstorming a name that exudes trust, credibility and excitement to your target audience, then let’s help you brainstorm a business name for your startup. 

Characteristics of a Good Business Name

I think things are easier when we give them limits. You know, to narrow down the thousands of options you have out there. 

  • Simple and easy to pronounce: a good brand name is one that is easy for your customers to pronounce and remember. It should have no more than three or two syllabus and be easy for reporters and journalists to prounce and talk about. Let’s not make it hard like graduation when the principal butcher’s everyone’s names. One of the best examples of this is in the movie, That Thing You Do, when the  band tries to come up with  a name. They like the “Wonders” but want to spell it the “Oneders.” It didn’t last when the announcer pronounced it the Oh-need-ers. 
  • (Legally) Available: There is no point is starting a business if you cannot acquire the full rights to its name. Be sure that you opt for a registration certificate that is issued by the USPTO (or another equivalent agency where you live in). While you’re at it, check the domain name and the social handles. You don’t want to make it hard to find you online or tag you in posts. 
  • Be unique: Your startup name needs to be unique in the sense that it does not a) sound weird or b) come off similar to your competitors. Think of Hiring.com, Careers.com and HotJobs.com – none of which stand out. But Monster.com does (even if it doesn’t describe its business).

Start Word Dumping

We’re going back to basics. The most basic of all brainstorming techniques is to get out a piece of white blank paper or the notes section of your smartphone and start jotting down your ideas. If sticky notes are more your style then by all means, go right ahead.

Try to dump in as many words as you can that relate to your business, even if some of them don’t make any sense or match with what you’re selling. The idea is that you drop as many names and words you can think of until one of them clicks.

If you want to streamline the results, go for these categories; words, verbs, feelings, aesthetic, people. You’re even free to use a dictionary, a thesaurus or even the internet all things considered.

Collaborate with the Right People (or Apps)

If you’re hitting a wall in coming up with a good business name, perhaps it’s time to ask for help (which I know we don’t like to do). It’s always a good idea your colleagues or close friends, family members help you.

You can also use apps like Name Mesh or Naminum to help you generate names.

Think of Names that Explain What You’re Selling

Before Google became the multi-billion-dollar corporation it is today, it was supposed to be named ‘googol’, which represents the number 1 followed by a hundred zeros. But the creators Larry Page and Sergey Brin, decided to go with the name for their search engine (which was going to be called BackRub).

Apparently, the name Google had more to its name than being short and easy to recall; but because the search engine generated large amounts of information, it matched the definition of the word googol. This created a compelling story that remained in the minds of the customers for years up till now.

If you’re into the flower-selling business, you could come up with names like Bouquet4U, Blooming Petals or Smiling Blossom, among others.

Alternative Spelling

Go through each of the names and phrases that you’ve come up with and highlight the ones that pique your interest. One simple trick you can try is altering the spelling of the words you’ve picked out. You can get simpler results just like Toggle, Tumblr, Flickr or Scribd.

Make a Mood Board

Give your brainstorming endeavor a visual appeal with a mood board. You can grab old magazines and newspapers, cut out some pictures, words or colors that identify with your business.

Better yet, you can digitize the process and create a Pinterest account. Start a new board and look for fun and relevant images and quotes that best describe your company. This is a relatively much quicker way than having to sort through dozens of magazines.  

Conclusion:

There’s a lot in a name – especially a startup name. Granted how much time I spend thinking about a blog post title, I feel you. You can read the full story on how Windy City Cosmo came up with their name here. 

 

Hamza Shahzad is a freelance writer and blogger. Currently, he’s working with Smile Tutor. He assists with business development and social media content planning.

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10 Life Hacks I Learned as a New Entrepreneur

I’m a woman entrepreneur in Chicago. Looking back on my adventures building my business over the past eighteen months, I realized I learned a lot (maybe the hard way). Being new to entrepreneurship, I adapted little and big life hacks that have fundamentally transformed the way I look at business and life. Some of these are easier said than done, and I need to remind myself every day to do it. But, some have become an integral part of my standard operating procedure. I want to share these best practices and tools for entrepreneurs – with women, men, entrepreneurs, and wanna-be-entrepreneurs – hopefully, some of these will resonate.

Here are the life hacks I learned as a woman entrepreneur in no particular order.

1. Really, there are no stupid ideas, only identifying ones that work for you

Tool: An easily accessible idea repository, mind mapping software

When you are starting out as an entrepreneur, ideas pop up everywhere. In most cases, we dismiss them as impractical. Keeping an open mind towards ideas, and exploring them, no matter the source, is critical. I have gotten ideas from sources as diverse as customers, investors, teenagers, and friends at the gym.

Mapping out ideas and writing them down has helped me remember these ideas so that I can come back to them on a regular basis. Sometimes, I incorporate ideas from my idea repository into my products, marketing strategy, and partnerships. These ideas have a way of morphing and transforming into unexpectedly exciting concepts after a few iterations.

2. Ruthless prioritization followed by precise execution

Tool: Business process map and a good project management software

It is very easy to get lost in rabbit holes and sucked into diversification, which makes us lose focus on what we want to do as we grow our business. Pivoting several times is not only natural; it is essential in the early stages of your business. As you progress from ideation to your startup launch, it is important to have a frame of reference that validates your hypothesis. These could be frameworks or people who could give you timely feedback. Being a little ruthless with prioritization is life-saving because your business is your baby as an entrepreneur, and in reality, who likes to admit that their baby is ugly!

Using a tool like the business process map is helpful to prioritize your business ideas based on value creation. Having a great project management software has also been a life saver for me to keep track of everything related to the project on a week by week basis to keep things manageable.

3. Understand your strengths and weaknesses – and test your limits

Tool: SWOT, MBTI, Google

You don’t know what you can or cannot do until you try. As a new entrepreneur, this past year has been an incredible learning opportunity for me. Learning concepts in business school is one thing, but researching and understanding how the real world operates is another.

Starting from a place of understanding my strengths and weaknesses through SWOT analysis was very helpful. It helped me figure out where I needed to personally develop to get my business to where we wanted to go. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say; I say that tiger mother definitely pushes your buttons and fires up cylinders that you didn’t know existed.

MBTI from Myers Briggs was a tool I found super useful to interact with my co-founders and advisors. Forming a new team in a high-stress environment is hard, but if you have the instruction manual for a personality type, it does help ease the process a little as you understand how to vary your approach based on the kinds of people you hire and manage.

Google has of course been my guide to the galaxy of tools, techniques, and processes that we have had to adopt along the way.

4. Create your own village

Tool: Your friends and family, extended community, connections from the past, network for the future. Advisory board, Linkedin, Facebook, Whatsapp, Ning and so much more.

Entrepreneurship is a very lonely journey. Finding people who can help, guide, support, partner and in general be that support system in the journey is critical in sustaining the entrepreneur journey long term. As an entrepreneur, I was required to merely take feedback for what it is intended for: as learning opportunities. Yes, that was very hard, but a great life skill to have! I have had the good fortune of friends and family who continue to give me their advice, effort and help along the way and hope to continue getting that in the future. This has truly been a life support system for me as I received guidance from the unlikeliest of places when I needed it the most.

5. Stay present with personal and situational awareness

Tool: Your senses and your internal radar

It is all too easy to get immersed into your own world and forget about the world around you when you’re wearing many hats. I have had several conversations of “uh huh, uh huh” with family, while mentally wrestling website content or a product feature. This is so hard to implement in practice, but something that all of us needs to strive for.

Emotional intelligence is a must-have as an entrepreneur, and it is all about understanding how all players in a situation respond and adapt. It is important to recognize and trust your instincts and understand spoken and unspoken communication around you. This means getting our heads out of the daily rabbit holes and breathe in to be responsive to everything that is happening around us.

6. Finding balance in your life

Tool: Calendar to make time for hobbies, vacations, time with family and friends

Entrepreneurship by definition puts a heavy thumb on the scale, disrupting life balance as we know it without care or remorse. Even though I led a balanced life during my corporate career, trying to find some semblance of equilibrium between work and home, passion, and duty, ambition, and zen has been a real challenge.

My new approach as an entrepreneur is to guard personal time fiercely and treat it as an investment for yourself and your startup. Always searching for this elusive sense of balance has helped avoid burn out (and most importantly, provide sanity).

7. Find time for others – Karma has a way of seeking you out

Tools: Kindness, empathy, and listening skills

When you are an entrepreneur you have so many things on your plate, it is easy to be self-centered and focus on the million things you need to do. That is, even more reason to find time to help others in need – whether it be to find a job, make connections, give advice or even just smile and listen. I have had the most interesting conversations at the gym. It started with helping someone execute sun salutations and somehow turned into contacts in Silicon Valley technology investment firms. I am a strong believer in kindness – attracting goodness, especially if you don’t expect anything in return.

8. Ideate. Listen. Observe. Inquire. Learn. Pivot. Repeat.

Tool: Brainstorming techniques, an excellent ring binder notebook, periodic review of notes

There is nothing glamorous about entrepreneurship. It is about being disciplined and keeping yourself on task with a change management process that works for you. Because like it or not, you are always changing. Being mindful and conscious of how to evolve with these changes was a crucial learning for me, Having a few brainstorming techniques in your back pocket is very useful to get ideas flowing. After the ideation process, it is all about listening to feedback, creating learning out of feedback, micro-pivoting as needed and then rinse and repeat.

9. Settle for outcomes – never for values

Tools: Company mission, vision and value statement

One of the main drivers for me to start my own company was that I wanted to create something that was true to my values, where I didn’t have to settle for values that rang false or be someone I was not. When you are creating a company, you almost always don’t get exactly what you are looking for. In that scenario, the one thing I did not compromise on are the company values on how to operate, who to work with, and even the definition of ‘is’: because of a simple reason, I want this to be a company that founders and employees are proud to work at.

I have learned to choose values over outcomes. In situations like ‘Is it more important to have all of these features added, or give people time off to have family time ?’

10. Find time to center yourself

Tools: meditation, yoga, hobbies

Being an entrepreneur is like an on-off switch. Either you are in or you aren’t. If you have decided to be an entrepreneur, there is that strong internal instinct that you have to pay attention to. It’s giving you guidance on all aspects of your business. Having the quietness in your day to have that internal dialogue is very important as an entrepreneur. This means un-cluttering your calendar and your mind to have that clarity of thought and intention calibrated to your goals. Doing this on a regular basis through activities that clear your mind has been very helpful. I found this to be the hardest of the lot to do – concluding that focus amidst the chaos. It is still work in progress.

Conclusion:

This is my top 10 list of the big and small life hacks I have found useful in my entrepreneurship journey. Hope you will find it useful as well. I would love to hear from you on what have learned in your journey that I could shamelessly steal.

Deepa Kartha is the Founder and CEO of Zinda.xyz, an SMAC(Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud) based Employee Engagement software company. Journey from Zinda is a social engagement and impact software in the workplace that aligns employees and companies on a common purpose provides motivation for employees and insights for businesses.

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