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If you are planning on setting up a freelance training business, then a question that’s probably playing on your mind right now is, “What should I call my business?”
It’s a tough question and one that can stall a lot of people when they first start up in business.
Your business name may be one of the first things that a potential client hears about you and, from hearing it, they may form an opinion about your business without knowing anything else about who you are or what training you offer. That’s a lot of pressure!
Ideally, your business name should make a good first impression, reflect your wider brand and communicate something about your ethos. But where on earth do you start?
Using your own name – the pros and cons
Many freelance trainers operate under their own name. This has a number of benefits. If, for example, you plan to work alone as a solopreneur for the foreseeable future, it positions you as an integral part of your brand and company. When people come to your business, they get you – with your experience, your reputation, your unique personality. This creates an expectation of a personal touch.
Although it’s still entirely possible and advisable to outsource some of the tasks in your business, e.g. your accounts, social media, call handling, etc., you should also be closely involved in any materials produced for your business so that they have your stamp of approval and communicate with your clients in an authentic way.
Trading under your own name also means that you can develop your business into different areas without the name limiting people’s expectations.
A business named after you can transcend being a one-person operation eventually and become a larger business but it’s important that you’re heavily involved at the outset to create your personal brand story and lay the foundations on which a team could build in the future.
It’s worth remembering that people have stories, whereas businesses have origins. If you feel your personal journey and experience are key to your business, people are arguably more likely to seek it out if you name the business after yourself. They’ll want to know what makes you you? How you came to be where you are today?
However, if you are planning to build a larger training business where you oversee a number of trainers or you want your business name to appeal to a specific market/industry, naming the business after you might not be the right course of action.
The same applies if you plan to sell your training business in the future or want to create franchises for different regions. After all, when you name a business after yourself, people expect to get access to you.
Opting for a business name
If you would like to step away from the business in the future and delegate to your team, or you want to create a business name that resonates with your customers rather than focusing on you personally, then you might decide to go for a business name.
But what should you consider when choosing a business name?
- Make it unique and unforgettable
- Make it easy to pronounce, spell and remember
- Keep it simple
- Give a clue about what you do (The Trainers Training Company, for example, is a ‘it does what it says on the tin’ kind of name that lets people know exactly what I do)
- Give your business room for growth
It’s a good idea to brainstorm business names, coming up with as many ideas as you can around key themes or words that really appeal to you.
Once you have your initial list, which names stand out?
If people were searching for a particular name in Google, what other companies would come up in the search results? Are they in a similar field to you or are they completely unrelated? Does anything come up in a search that you wouldn’t want to be associated with?
It’s also a good idea to check that your shortlisted business names don’t have any negative or offensive connotations in other languages. Search the words and names in Google and see what kind of information you can find.
Once you’ve narrowed your list down to your favourite potential business name, you must check whether the name and related domain are available. There’s a handy guide to naming your business on the GOV.UK website – this explains that your business name cannot be exactly the same, or even too close to, another name registered with Companies House.
Having established whether your company name and any related web domains are available, it’s a good idea to test your proposed business name out with your wider network. Personally, I’d recommend asking a few trusted colleagues rather than your friends and family, as the latter may feel obliged to tell you you’ve made a great choice whatever they really feel about the name. Also, they may not understand the training business and so aren’t your target customer.
You might even want to consider giving some people within your professional network a choice of four or five names and see which one resonates most strongly. What does the name tell them about your training business? Are there any negative associations you haven’t thought about? Is the name easy to remember? What sort of ethos does it conjure up?
Although businesses can and do change their names from time to time, it’s better to have a name that will stay the distance and provide a firm foundation around which to build your brand.