Boss Lady

Turn your hobby into a business: step 2 – business name


Following on from our overview of how to turn your hobby into a business, let’s look in more depth at the first step: the Business Name.

Have you decided on a business name?

The name of your business is the identity of the business, and every business needs one. It is the first mental image that a potential client forms.  Make sure you choose a business name that reflects what you do and what your business is about. When choosing a business name is should continue to remain relevant as the business expands and grows.

So how do you choose a memorable name that kinda describes what you do, and that is not gonna get you sued by someone else who has already has that name?

There are companies that you can outsource this to, to come up with some fabulous ideas for you, but I believe that you as the founder of the business will be the best person possible to “name the baby” so to speak! This new creation has significance to you – give a name that’s worthy!

Brainstorm to get ideas and whilst doing that consider the following;

  • Assess your audience or target market. Younger audiences may appreciate a “shock value” name, but older audiences or business audiences in traditional audiences may not.
  • Does the proposed name provide clues or make a strong statement about the services and / or products you offer?
  • It must be easy to spell! Easy to spell equals easy to find, and that’s what you want when people are searching you online. Unique is good, but avoid spelling differently or difficulty. Make sure it is easy to pronounce too.
  • It needs to be short and memorable.
  • Consider the context, and avoid any negative connotations. Think of a pet parlour called “Doggie Styles” (I kid you not!). Avoid sounding cheap and nasty.
  • It needs to work within a strong visual element – so imagine the impact.
  • Check that the name you have in mind is

Go with your gut. If you love the name, and you think it fits – go with it!

So now you have “THE NAME”

Before you start hitting print on business cards, you need to check a few more things;

  • Is the domain name available? If available, register it.
  • Check for trademarks – is the name you want legally available? You can check on pending or registered trademarks which may be similar to your proposed business name.
  • Is the business name available at ASIC? There is actually a Business Names Registration Act (sigh!) that deals with this.

Is it necessary to register the business name?

A business name is registered nationally with ASIC(Australian Securities and Investment Commission). If you have decided to trade under your own name, there is no requirement to register a separate business name.  If you intend to trade using a different name – that name needs to be registered as a business name.

If you intend to operate under a company business structure – the company name needs to be registered with ASIC, but you don’t need a separate business name (unless you will trade under a separate name).  For example

Legal name

Business or trading name

Do I need to register?

Melissa Smith Melissa Smith Swim School  Yes
Melissa Smith Melissa Smith  No
Melissa Smith and John Brown Smith and Brown Swim Academy  Yes
Melissa Smith and John Brown Melissa Smith and John Brown  No
Melissa Smith Pty Ltd Little Flippers Swim School  Yes
Melissa Smith Pty Ltd Melissa Smith Pty Ltd  No

Do not confuse a business name with an ABN (Australian Business Number).  An ABN is required if you are doing business, An ABN is a unique 11 digit number that identifies your business to the government and people you do business with. The ABN needs to be on invoices you issue, and invoices you receive.  You may apply for an ABN for free at any time through the Australian Business Register website.  You may have multiple business names attached to a single ABN.

Just remember, registration of a business, company or domain name does not give you exclusive ownership. You may need to register a trade mark if you want exclusive use of that name throughout Australia.

Your business name is the foundation on which your marketing will rely. Make every letter count.

About Gillian Nathan

Gillian Nathan is a qualified chartered accountant, with articled experience at a Big 4 firm. She is a Registered Tax Agent and an Associate Member of the Tax Institute. She has completed her Masters in Taxation and International Taxation. Gillian has both public sector and private sector experience, prior to starting and running her own successful tax practice. Gillian has sat on a board of directors at listed clients and been a member of the Junior Executive Board at the South African Revenue Services. In addition, Gillian has completed her Postgraduate Certificate in Education, and is a qualified secondary school teacher in Accounting and Economics. She has also lectured postgraduate courses and facilitated training and presented at in house training courses for employees of large listed clients. Gillian has combined her passion for education, taxation and accounting and started Simple Solutions Accounting Services. In this business, Gillian uses her passion for small business, educating and empowering business owners to implement affordable, time efficient and effective accounting solutions that provide the tools to allow business owners to focus on operating their business, yet having the ability to make real-time financial decisions.

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