Sunday, May 28, 2017

For a really small venture, maybe keep it simple

In most jurisdictions you do not need to register a business name if the name you use is your own unaltered name – e.g. if I called a photography business Victoria Fine Photography that would need to be registered as a business name, but if my names was Jane Doe and I called it Jane Doe Photography I would not need to go through the business name registration process.

I still could register under another name, and there would be advantages in doing so, such as protection from another Jane Doe starting her own photography business under a confusing similar name.

Mainly if you want to have a very small business, with just yourself part-time doing the work, with little potential for legal or financial liabilities,  you might want to keep things as simple and inexpensive as possible.

A one-person business is called a sole-propietership. You still pay income taxes on money that you make, but you will be taxed as an individual. Keep in mind that any legal or financial liabilities are held personally, so you do not have the protections offered by registering a company.

You can still operate a sole-proprietership under a name other than your personal name, but you will need to register that business name.

You still want to have a website, though, and this is where some of the new TLDs come into play. In the case cited, a great domain name might be JaneDoe.photography or JaneDoe.photo for example.

So what are your choices in TLD extensions?  The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) maintain a TLD listing (nicely arranged alphabetically) of the current possibilities.

Some good TLD choices for professionals working under their own name are the following:
  • .accountant
  • .attorney
  • .author
  • .catering
  • .construction
  • .consulting
  • .dentist (or .dental)
  • .design
  • .doctor
  • .education
  • .engineer (or .engineering)
  • .farm
  • .finance (or .financial)
  • .fitness
  • .marketing
  • .photographer (or .photo)
  • .productions
  • .professional
  • .plumbing
  • .realtor (or .realty)
  • .studio
  • .toys
  • .training
  • .vacations
Keep in mind though that being on this list just means that some domain registrars handle that TLD.  It certainly does not mean that all registrars do. If you hope to keep your domain registration, DNS (domain name serving) and web hosting all within one service, for example with Namecheap.com, it's a good idea to explore options before you commit to a name.

Check to be sure of any regulations in your area with respect to business names. An excellent article on Naming Your Business by Canada Business Network has links to the various provincial sites.

The Fine Print: We are an education service, and nothing you read here should be considered individual legal or business advice. Briefly our background is that we have owned a business, managed numerous websites, and registered many domain names. While every attempt has been made to be current and accurate, any details important to the reader should be independently verified. We are members of Google Adsense, so you will see some ads from them on these pages, and also are members of several affiliate programs including Amazon, HostPapa, and Namecheap. We only join affiliates if we use that service ourselves, and have had a positive experience.  Unless we explicitly indicate otherwise in a post, we have not been offered compensation by any company or organization for any post or recommendation.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Eight questions to ask when choosing a name

Whether you are starting a new business or organization, an early choice that you must make is what name to use.  Here are eight questions to ask yourself as you consider a name for your business, club or organization.
  1. Is the name descriptive?  If someone hears the name, and did not otherwise know about your organization, would they have an idea about what it about?
  2. Is it positive? If two names are equally descriptive, but one has a more positive connotation, then go with that. But be careful about being so positive others will regard the name as silly or frivolous.
  3. Is it easy to remember? If you expect people to tell others about your service, or to look for it on the web, it helps if they can easily remember the name. People being able to spell it is important too! I registered the name and domain chignecto.ca, and it was in many ways a good name for the service: unique, part of our story line, available, legal.  But people unfamiliar with the name have constantly misspelled it!
  4. How unique is the name?  You don't want (most of the time!) confusion between you and someone else, so this argues for a name that is easily differentiated from others.
  5. Is the name available?  This is necessary but sometimes overlooked.  You want the name to be available both as one that can be registered as a trademark and/or business name in your region, but also as a domain name and possibly on social media, for example as a Twitter handle.
  6. Is abbreviation positive?  Some names will naturally be abbreviated, and that is usually positive, for example helping make the name easy to remember.  Make sure that the abbreviation will itself not be a negative though (some time ago a Canadian political party almost adopted the name Canadian Reform Alliance Party).
  7. Is it legal? You are not allowed to use a name that would be deliberately confused with another business or organization. Before registering your business name this will be checked, but it is good at the outset to make sure your name is not too similar to an existing name that operates in a similar business.
  8. What TLD is natural for your venture? You should think about the domain name at the same time as you consider the company, brand, or organization name. Now that we have many top level domain (TLD) choices, you should ask yourself if one of these makes more sense than the generic ones. For example, if in the design business. surely a name ending in .design makes sense, or if you are naming a new club, why not use a .club TLD?
Picking names is both easy and hard! It's easy, because you start with a good knowledge of what you want the name to reflect, and probably already one or more choices in mind. It's hard because there are so many potential options, and the choice will be important to the success of your venture.

You should be involved, so never farm out the entire name selection process to outside firms.  That being said, those with experience and expertise can provide invaluable expertise.  Even if you decide not to hire a name consultant, you should at the very least bounce your proposed names off colleagues and friends.  This is too important a decision to base only on your opinion, no matter how creative and smart you are!

The Canadian Business Network have a helpful short post that includes their take on questions to ask yourself when choosing a name, along with the legal requirements with respect to business names in the various provinces.

Want a second opinion? This article in Entrepeneur on 8 mistakes to avoid when naming your business is well worth a read.

This site is about giving you help as you decide on the name that will represent your business, service, or organization. 

In all our posts please feel free to comment, even if you disagree with the advice we offer!

The Fine Print: We are an education service, and nothing you read here should be considered individual legal or business advice. Briefly our background is that we have owned a business, managed numerous websites, and registered many domain names. While every attempt has been made to be current and accurate, any details important to the reader should be independently verified. We are members of Google Adsense, so you will see some ads from them on these pages, and also are members of several affiliate programs including Amazon, HostPapa, and Namecheap. We only join affiliates if we use that service ourselves, and have had a positive experience.  Unless we explicitly indicate otherwise in a post, we have not been offered compensation by any company or organization for any post or recommendation.

Eight questions to ask when choosing a name

Whether you are starting a new business or organization, an early choice that you must make is what name to use.  Here are eight questions t...