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The hardest part about starting a business is…

Notice the title says “starting” a business, not running a business. The hardest part about starting a business is, naming your business. There are many different things to consider when coming up with an name and once you decide on something, you’re married to your name. It’s much easier to get it right the first time versus changing it 6 months down the road. The more mature your business becomes, the more expensive and time consuming it will be to change its name.

Keys steps to consider when naming your business:

A descriptive name versus a creative or made up name: Burger King versus Wendy’s? In it’s name people can quickly understand that Burger King specializes in burgers. When Wendy’s first entered the scene, what was a Wendy? After a consistent branding message, today everyone knows Wendy’s is also famous for their burgers. The key is that it takes time and a consistent branding message. Look at some of the most known companies that have made up names; Twitter, Yahoo, Google, Ikea or even Kinko’s.

Things to consider:

  • What your plans are for the business? Local, National, International…
  • Will you have a marketing budget to establish the brand?
  • Can it be confused with other businesses?

Branding yourself versus a business: Most businesses start with one or two people in the business. If you have no plans to be larger than a single person enterprise, it’s okay to be Tim’s Tire Repair. If you plan to become a multi-million dollar company that will disrupt an entire industry forever, the name should be larger than yourself. That too becomes part of your marketing message! Do you reference your business as an “I” or a “we” when creating your marketing materials. It matters and it must be consistent.

Things to consider:

  • Ask yourself, who will be the future face of the company?
  • Do you have more than one partner?
  • Consider being all inclusive to represent each founder

Length of the name: The longer the name, more real estate is required on the web, on business cards and other marketing material. If you’re thinking you can transition your business into an acronym, spell it out before it’s too late!

Don’t try to be too clever: A clever name may sound like a good idea at the time. Ask yourself and others if it makes sense, is it easy to spell and pronounce?  

Is the URL available (and across the other social media platforms)? If it is, you might be onto something!

Things to consider:

  • .com domains are still King
  • You can use other domains but others may discount your business as being a “new” business that hasn’t passed the test of time

If you’re able to get a domain name and a social media presence without any conflict, then you can look to Trademark.  It’s better to spend $15 on a URL first than spend the money on the trademark process without passing the URL test.

It’s a painful process but try to have fun with it. We hope this helps you along your journey!

Start Peninsula Winners Announced

Three teams of entrepreneurs in the Hampton Roads area are now steps closer to launching their businesses. Dozens of teams presented a 90 second pitch on Friday night and 10 were selected over the weekend to deliver a 5 minute pitch on Sunday evening. Three teams were then crowned as the 2016 Start Peninsula winners from last weekend’s competition! Unmanned Aerial Propulsion Systems, designers of a quiet and safe drone with no exposed spinning propellers, won first place and $10,000. Harper (Oso Bear), an artificial intelligence and interactive learning toy that helps children tell their own stories, won second place and $7500 while AnswersNOW, a web-based mobile service to help parents of autistic children, won third place and $5000. All three winners also received free membership in a Peninsula business incubator for a period of 90 days. Each winner has the choice to select either the Hampton University Business Incubator or the Peninsula Technology Incubator in Hampton or the Launchpad or Ignition Center in Williamsburg.

 

Twenty-nine new business ideas were pitched by inventors, students, designers, programmers, and engineers on Friday night with participants describing their business idea in 90 seconds. The goal was to define the idea or concept by explaining the product, service, or value proposition in a short duration of time while exciting the audience and judges about the idea’s potential. Ten semi-finalists including website developers, service providers, and product designers were named by the judges to develop their businesses over the weekend. Semi-finalists formed teams with attendees and mentors and worked with programmers, marketing experts, financial planners, attorneys and others to transform their ideas into executable business plans. “Shark Tank” style presentations on Sunday night were scored on Business Model, Customer Validation, Execution and Design with winners given an important boost for their businesses.

 

Entrepreneurs can look forward to another opportunity to present business ideas and develop a business plan at the sixth annual Start Peninsula that will be hosted in Williamsburg in November 2017.

Welcome to Start Peninsula 2016!

Stay tuned for more news as we near the event!