Souky Souky

Step Three: Name Your Business

Starting a BusinessEllen Dittmar

Once I had my business idea, I jumped right into the fun stuff; choosing a business name and designing a logo. But actually we aren't going to talk about logos just yet. We will get into all that in the next post. I only mention this so that you can note that I did not immediately deep dive into the practicalities, logistics and challenges of actually opening up a retail business. I think doing so would have killed my dream. There are so many road blocks when first opening yourself up to the idea of starting a business. I needed to, first, build up some excitement. I needed to pump myself up.

It is kinda like having a baby. If you wait until you are "ready" and have all the details and logistics worked out before you try to get pregnant, you will find a million reasons not to have a baby. But if you drum up a little excitement first (i.e. research baby names, imagine the nursery), the logistics and challenges are forced to take a temporary back seat. They will still be there...sure...but they won't be the only things there. Excitement will also be along for the ride.

If you put all your worries and fear aside and just name the baby, you will feel the urge to actually make the baby. Errrr....business.

To name my business, I did three things:

  1. Brainstormed Names
  2. Asked for Feedback
  3. Researched Names

Brainstorming Names

As I already mentioned here, the brainstorming process is wildly important and, for me, it lasted the better part of 3 months. Included in all that was dreaming up names for my business. I began by simply writing down words. The words needed to fit one of two criteria (or both): I had to like the way it sounded and/or it had to conjure up the overall concept or feeling of my business. To give you a better sense of what I did, here is a sample of some of the words I came up with:

I think, when all was said and done I had about 50 words on my list. Now, obviously, these words by their little lonesome are pretty generic and boring. And overall, that was not the vibe I was going for. However, when I started pairing them together, things got a bit more interesting. For instance, Yonder Interiors or Humble Homewares or Brass Souk. I also played around with adding a 'The' to a single word or phrase. Like, The Rustic or The Fig Creative. I feel like this is a very easy way to make something generic sound instantaneously cool and trendy. It is the hipster of business names.

Alas, I am not a hipster....so I kept searching.

I kept gravitating to the word 'souk'. I loved the way it looked, how it sounded and, most importantly, what it meant. It felt almost perfect. So I started to play around with word pairings that included the word souk. Here are some that I came up with:

As you can see, I created little mock-up logos to go with my names. I mostly did this for fun but it also helped me envision what kinda of vibe I was ultimately going for.  By the way, you do not need to be a Photoshop genius to make your own logo. I did all of the above on PicMonkey. And there are a million websites out there that will help you do the same. Are they perfect? No. But they totally do the trick during the brainstorming process.

Asking for Feedback

Once I narrowed my names down to 6-7 favorites and created mock-up logos for them, I asked a few trusted people for feedback. I had my favorite name but I wasn't confident and wanted to test the waters to see what other people thought. This was actually the hardest part because in order to complete this step I had to say out loud that I wanted to start a business. And that, my friends, can be terrifying to confess. For this very reason I only asked 3 people for feedback: my husband, my brother-in law (who happens to be a graphic designer) and my close girlfriend.

Choose this group of people wisely. You are probably not ready to answer tons of questions about your business right now or share this news with the world...so choose people you trust and who know you well.

I sent "my people" a little email briefly explaining my business idea and asked them which of the following names they liked best and why:

A few wonderful things came out of asking for business name feedback. Firstly, I felt an enormous sense of relief just by sharing my business idea with someone else. Secondly, I got so much positive feedback and encouragement. It was just the push I needed to keep going. Lastly, all of my people liked the same name. And it just so happened to be the name I had been leaning towards. I knew for sure, when one person wrote back, "I love #3, souky souky. Its playful, has a little attitude but welcoming and not pretentious. Also very easy to say and memorable." That was EXACTLY what I wanted.

I felt like I was onto something and getting this feedback gave me the confidence to move forward.

Researching Names

The next step was ensuring that my name was a viable business name. In other words, I needed to make sure that there wasn't already another business out there operating under the same alias. A quick google search should tell you pretty quickly if your name is already being used by another company. However, sometimes Google isn't enough; some businesses exist but don't necessarily have an online presence. In order to apply for a business license, you need to make sure you have a name that you can claim as your own. To find out if your name is available, you need to check with your local/state business licensing office. The easiest way to do this is to just type "business name availability check" and then your state or country name (i.e. business name availability check Oregon). From here, you should be able to simply type in your proposed name and immediately see if it available. If it is...boom! You have yourself a name. If not, well, you need to start over. But don't worry, there are plenty of business names to go around! You will find "the one" if you just keep at it!