If you have been following this series, then you’ll recall that to date we’ve discussed what a VA is and ways to begin planning your business. If you haven’t been following this series or seem to have forgotten parts of it, you may go to the navigation bar, click on “Virtual Assisting” and follow the drop-down menu to the “Series”.
This topic will be on picking a name for your virtual assistant practice. While it may seem like an easy task, there is definitely homework to be done.
Why is this? For one thing, if you’ve ever typed in the words “virtual assistants” into a Google search you’ll probably yield close to 2,510,000 results in about 15 seconds. This means that the name you choose for your own VA practice may already be in use.
How will you know if your business name is in use? You’ll have to do your homework, and you’ll probably have to do it in more than one place.
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Obviously, the best place to start would be the Internet using Google, Yahoo, Bing or AltaVista. Now, just because a name does not come up in the search engine results, doesn’t mean your search is finished. Many times a person will register a business name (fictitious name) with their local county courthouse and then never use the name. They still legally own the business name, but they have never used it.
With this in mind, you will need to contact your County Clerk’s Office for a list of registered business names or fictitious names. These are usually maintained in a fictitious names database, and you will have to go in person to have a search done.
If your VA practice plans on becoming an LLC (Limited Liability Company) and putting the LLC at the end of the business name, you will also need to contact your state’s business office. You want to make sure that you are not using part of another LLC’s name or a part of another legal partnership’s name.
You will want to search the Thomas Registry for any unregistered trademarks if plan on using a trademark. Most VA’s don’t, but if in the future, you would like to add something like “VA and The WordPress Wonder Wiz”™ as part of your title or tagline—do your homework. It may be the future registered trademark of a software company like WordPress.
Network Solutions is also a helpful online tool that will pull up variations of the business names you type in. It is something like GoDaddy, but you don’t have to pay before using. Sometimes if your business name is a “little too close” or too similar to another business name, you may be asked (usually by their attorney) to change it.
Now once you have done all of that, how will you know that you have a “good” name? A name that really does promote your business and describes what you do.
Well, I can tell you four ways to know you do NOT have a good business name:
1. Your target market cannot remember how to spell your business name.
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2. Your target market constantly (not just once) struggles to pronounce your business name.
3. Your target market cannot remember what your business does.
4. Your target market continues to confuse your business name with a similar business name
Another thing to consider is once you get your business name, how will the search engines react to the name? I’m going to use myself as an example here, so you won’t make the same mistake that I made.
My former business name was Gemstone Business Solutions, because I love gemstones and enjoy designing my own jewelry. To me, a gemstone was a symbolic of something “well polished and priceless”. What I was hoping to be for my clients!
However, the search engines didn’t “get” my symbolism. As a result, most of my search engine results were for people looking to buy or sell their gemstones, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and pearls. I even received phone calls from people hoping I could offer stone cutting equipment. See why I became GBS Virtual Office Solutions?
My advice would be to take your time and do your homework both online and offline when it comes to selecting a business name. The next time someone asks the age-old Shakespearean question, “What’s in a name?” You can proudly reply, “Good search engine results!”