Naming Your Business

There are several factors to consider when choosing a good name for your catering business. Renaming your business will waste time and money, so pick a name that can grow with you.

You're creating a new brand, so make sure the name is memorable and has positive connotations. If it's a foreign word, make sure it doesn't mean something bad in another language. (The Chevy Nova failed to sell in Spanish-speaking countries largely because in Spanish no va means, “No go.”) Make sure the name you choose sounds like it's a food business. You may pick a great name like “Apex,” but it sounds more like a technical business than a food business.

Don't choose a name that sounds like or is spelled like another brand name. If and when the owner of the original brand name becomes aware of your business name, you'll have a lot of aggravation to deal with. At a minimum, you might be served with a ceaseand-desist letter warning you to stop using the name, or else pay a fee to license the name from the owner. At worst, you would be forced to go to court and spend money to defend the name.

Fact

If you use a name other than your personal name for your business, you'll have to register it to ensure that someone else isn't using it and that other businesses can't use it. Registering an assumed or fictitious name is an easy process also known as filing a DBA (“doing business as”) form with your state or county and paying a small fee.

Don't use your name for your business's name. Unless you're well known in your area and have a stellar reputation, you'd be better off creating a name that evokes the image and temperament of the concept you've chosen. Names are powerful. We often imagine what a person looks like and must be like just based on her name. Choose a name that you can imagine being one of your favorite brands and your friends' favorite brands.

If the name you choose is hard to pronounce or spell or part of an in-joke, it probably won't work well. If the name has an unusual spelling, it will make it harder for people to look up in the phone book and on line. Don't use an overly sophisticated name or one that's über trendy. Try to come up with a unique name that is easy to spell.

Choosing the right name involves finding the right balance between a name that's too broad and generic, such as “World's Best Catering Services,” and a name that's too small and specific, for example, “Bob Smith's Catering.”

Make sure the name is easy for others to remember. If your friends and associates can't remember the name of your business, they won't be able to tell others about it.

Domain Name Availability

You'll also want to check the Web site names or domains available for your name. If the exact name you choose isn't available as a domain, you might need to alter it slightly. You'll want to have an easy-to-remember Web site, so you may want to pick another name if your first choice isn't available.

It's easy to check if a domain name is available. Visit www.networksolutions.com or a similar site, type in the domain name you want, and the site will check the official registry. It's best to get a dot-com domain. Dot-net is the only other alternative, but it's not as common as dot-com. Don't bother with dot-tv or other alternatives. If you're going to be running a for-profit business, you will be ineligible to use dot-org, which is reserved for nonprofit entities.

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The longer you reserve your domain name, the cheaper it is. If you decide to reserve your name for ten years, it will only cost you a few dollars a year.

If you find the name you want available, then purchase it for at least a year. For approximately $20 you'll be able to reserve the name as a Web domain, even if you haven't registered it yet with your state. The first one who thinks up the name and registers it gets to use it, so don't take the chance of losing it.

If you find the name that you wanted to use is taken, you can find out through the Web registry who the rightful owner is. You can always offer to buy the name, but it'll be cheaper and easier if you can create another good name.

The Beginning of the Alphabet

In listings of caterers in local entertaining guides to telephone books, you'll want your business to appear near the top of the list as much as possible. If you name your business Stellar Catering Services, chances are many people will find a caterer well before they get down to S.

An easy way to ensure this is to make sure that the first letter of the first significant word in the title starts with one of the first six to ten letters of the alphabet. Otherwise, when browsing, many people won't even get to see your name.

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