(As excerpted from: Turner, Krista. Start Your Own Import/Export Business: Your Step-By-Step Guide to Success (StartUp Series) Entrepreneur Press. Kindle Edition.)
Every business, like every child, has to have a name, and you should devote (almost) as much thought to choosing an appellation for your company as you would for your offspring. After all, you plan to have your business baby around for a long time. You want a name you can be proud of, one that identifies it— and by extension, you— as worthy of your clients’ confidence. Because import/ export is a more serious business than, say, pizza delivery or greeting card design, you should probably rule out names like Thyme to Trade (even if you specialize in herbs and spices). Instead, your name should call attention to your expertise and efficiency. The terminally creative, however, can take heart. Noncutesy doesn’t mean dull. Your name can— and should— deliver a snappy punch. One trader attacked the name problem from the standpoint of his vision of his company. “With Global Partners,” says Wahib Wahba, “we wanted to say that we’re all partners, me and my clients and manufacturers. We all have to be partners to make it work.”
When brainstorming your company name, keep in mind that, with a few exceptions, the people you’ll target won’t be using English as a native language. So take care with the expressions you choose. Colloquialisms and slang words sometimes aren’t clear even to people in different parts of the United States; don’t make things more difficult by pressing them on non-Americans. Everyone in the industry, on the other hand, easily understands international trade buzzwords like “global” and “overseas.” Many importers and exporters incorporate the name of the region with which they trade into their business moniker, for example, Far East Imports or Amazon Traders. Or you might want to incorporate a geographic feature of your own region, such as Desert Traders if you live in Palm Springs or Sea-to-Sea Exports if your office is near a seaport.
When brainstorming a business name, be careful not to fence yourself in with a moniker that may limit you later. If you’re starting out importing Mexican pottery, for example, you may not want to call your company Mexican Pottery Imports— unless you’re certain that’s the country and product category you’ll stick with.
You might even decide on a variation of your own name. Lloyd Davidson, owner of LND Export Management, used his initials as the basis for his company name. Sam Nelson, owner of Nelisco Inc. in North Carolina, also used part of his name. Whatever you go with, remember that you will be repeating your business name every time you answer the phone. Sound out the title before you settle on it. Some names look great in print but are difficult if not impossible to understand over the phone. M& A Associates, for example, may seem like a perfectly reasonable name for partners Marty and Andrea, but when spoken, it sounds like MNA.
Where to start naming your business? How about with a lexicon of trader’s lingo sure to set that international image in the mind of any potential client or customer?
- Atlantic ,
- Cargo ,
- Seven Seas,
BUSINESS NAME BRAINSTORMING:
List three ideas based on the geographic area you plan to trade with (i.e., Into Africa, European, Down Under):
List three ideas based on the types of products you plan to trade, remembering not to limit yourself to one product alone (i.e., Arts and Antiques, Gourmet Goods, Image Imports):
List three ideas based on a local feature (i.e., mountain, seaside, or historical reference like Alamo, or even a botanical feature, if that’s what your area is known for or you like, such as magnolia, rose, or chaparral):
After you’ve decided which name you like the best, do the following:
Say it aloud to make sure it’s easily understood and pronounced. (Has it passed muster with your family? Have you had a friend call to see how it sounds over the phone?)
Check your local Yellow Pages and online listings to make sure the same or a similar name is not already listed.
Check with your local business name authority to make sure it’s available.
Verify that it’s available as a domain name. (Register.com is a good place to check.)
Most callers rate about a C-minus in listening comprehension. No matter how clearly you enunciate, they aren’t going to understand M& A. So save yourself hours of telephone frustration and choose something simple. For a list of some words that might help get your creative gears cranking, check out the international lexicon in “Talking Trade” above.