What to Do If Your Co-founders Can’t Agree on a Business Name

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Having a co-founder to help you get your limited liability company off the ground can be a tremendous relief. Tackling the entire starting a business checklist by yourself can be intimidating.

However, even the most compatible of business partners are going to disagree from time to time. Typically, small disagreements can be easily managed. But disagreements about your business name? These are a different story and carry much greater consequence.

The name you select for your business will impact your logo, signage, business cards, domain name, social media handles and a lot more. Your business name will become your identity to your consumers, clients and peers.

When pitching a business name to your other co-founders, consider what that name will say to your core audience now and in the future as your business grows, expands, moves and transforms throughout the years.

If you and your co-founders are running into trouble agreeing on a business name, here are a few tips to get back on track.

Start with the “Golden Rules” of Business Naming

These eight golden rules of business naming are the perfect place to start if you and your co-founder(s) can’t decide on the just-right business name. This list was compiled to ensure business owners considered the big picture when landing on their ideal business name.

As you’ll see, this list doesn’t discourage names that are creative or personal, but still informs business owners of what’s practical and proven to perform. Run through this list with your co-founders and consider how each point applies to potential names, your industry, your location, your target audience and your personalities:

  1. Make sure it’s pronounceable.
  2. Avoid unusual spellings.
  3. Be unique/unforgettable.
  4. Keep it simple.
  5. Leave room for growth (new locations, new products, new services).
  6. Avoid trends.
  7. Keep it short so you don’t end up an abbreviation or undesired nickname.
  8. Make sure it’s available. (Incfile’s Business Name Search tool will keep you compliant!)

Find the Common Ground in Business Name Disagreements

It’s going to be much more challenging to see eye to eye with your co-founder if everyone feels like they’re on opposing sides. Pivot your focus away from defending your ideal name choice, and come together on what’s clear, obvious and advantageous for your business long-term.

Make a list of what you know about your business, industry, products and core audience. Start connecting the dots on what makes sense based on this information. Pretty soon, you’ll start to see that you’re not that far off. Dive into what truly matters to you and your co-founders and why. This will inform future discussions and, best of all, ensure that you and your co-founders are on the same side of finding a business name that works for everyone.

Go (Further) Outside the Box

When you feel stuck in business name disagreements, sometimes you have to pull yourself out of your normal headspace and find a different perspective. Think of when you get cabin fever in the winter. You book an impromptu flight to Vegas, you have a blast and then by the end of your vacation you’re ready to return to normalcy, but with renewed energy.

When it comes to agreeing on a business name, set aside your previous notes and preferences and start with a clean slate (no idea is a bad idea). Walk to the edge of your comfort zone and just keep going. What if the reason you can’t decide on a name is because you’ve been playing it safe? Or it could be the complete opposite in that you don’t realize the right answer was in front of you all along.

Spend some time outside the box and reassess your name options after adding a few dark horses into the mix. You may have found a new favorite that you can agree on, or you might find new appreciation for a previous contender.

Ask the Audience 

Perhaps the reason you and your co-founder haven’t felt ready to commit to a business name is because you haven’t run it by enough people. Once you’re down to your top five name ideas, ask friends, family and business associates, or take to social media to poll your prospective customers directly. You can gain valuable feedback or encouragement on which name best represents your business.

For more engaged audiences, ask these key questions:

  • Does this name speak to (your core audience)?
  • Does this name evoke (ideal response) or (less ideal response)?
  • Would you do business with (proposed name) in (industry)?
  • Can you easily spell and pronounce this business name?
  • Is this name unique, or does it make you think of another business?
  • What are your thoughts on (proposed business name)?

You and your co-founder have been stewing over these names for some time. You’re also familiar with industry lingo and insights. This could distort your view of a particular set of business names that you know are clever and relevant; however, people outside your industry (your customers) may not feel the same way.

Take what you can from outsiders’ perspectives to produce a catchy, informative and relatable business name that you and your prospective customers love!

Company Brand vs. Personal Brand

If your greatest concern throughout the business name discussions continues to be that you don’t feel like it represents your personality enough, you should be able to quell that worry by developing your personal brand. You’re a partnership now. Therefore, what’s best for you, may not be what’s best for the company at large. But that’s okay!

Your business pursuits don’t just have to stop with one venture. You can still make a name for yourself through (and separately from) your business. Put your thoughts out on a personal blog, LinkedIn or Medium. Pretty soon, you could secure speaking engagements that further both your personal and the business’ success.

The Name of the Game Is Business

Starting a business is hard enough. Don’t make it harder by letting things get personal between you and your co-founders. Use the practical and proven methods in this article to stay focused on the task at hand (finding the best possible name to foster business success). Once you’ve found the perfect business name, use our Business Name Search to be certain no one else in your state has already claimed it.

Chris Keller

Chris Keller

Chris Keller is a veteran the in business finance industry. Prior to starting his own business, he managed product lines at two Fortune 500 companies focusing on their Profit & Loss statements.
Chris Keller

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