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Changing your business name - why would you bother?

Monday, March 10, 2014   By Mike Reddy

 


So you think it might be time to change your business name. We need to make something really clear from the get go.

A decision to change your business name is not a simple blink twice and turn around once kind of process.

It requires money, is fraught with difficulty and needs a lot of i's dotted and t's crossed in order to get the right result.

However it might be the best thing you can do in order to grow your business.

Just how disruptive the entire process will be is largely dependent on how long you have been in business.

At the most basic level, a change to your business' trading name will mean replacing your marketing materials (that’s both online and off-line marketing), your website and social media usernames, business cards and your Internet domain name.

And that is just for starters.

It might even impact on your email address.

Do you want to continue having an address like frank@ABC.com.au or do you want to be perceived as a larger business and therefore having an email address such as frank.smith@ABC.com.au?

Also lurking in the background are the legalities which, at the most fundamental level, could include a change to your bank account details.

As with most business matters, a planning exercise should really be undertaken to ensure a smooth transition. And that’s one of the reasons why you should be engaging your business coach or advisor for some help.

What it does mean is that there must be a really good reason to change your name.

It could be that your name has become confusing in the marketplace. There may be a number of businesses that have very similar names or produce similar products (none as good as yours of course) and are becoming something of an irritant when you are trying to demonstrate your point of difference.

On the other hand your name might be so unique that your target market has little understanding of what you're about. Or your name may have suited a particular niche when you started out but you are now looking at other opportunities.

That’s a typical occurrence that comes to light during coaching sessions, particularly the all-important planning session.

Or there may be other instances which provide a good enough business case to change your identity.

Just be prepared that you are likely to lose some customers - change has that affect.

But you should always be focused on the bigger picture.

So it really comes down to what business coaches and advisors refer to as a "cost-benefit analysis".

In short, this might be when you draw a list of all the benefits of a change against the costs which can be expressed in terms of time, money, customer defections and other issues that could prove to be a challenge.

And it's probably why some businesses instead invest in a $4.95 sign that says "Under New Management".

Clearly a name change isn't something you want to be doing regularly. It's a strategic decision so it's important to ensure the new name fits in with your goal of accomplishing your desired objectives.

It needs to fit in with what you do, how you do it and how you will make money out of it.

That's why it's probably best to seriously consider a name change if you have changed your core product or a key strategy.

But changing your business' name will be counter-productive if it doesn't mean anything to your target market. Ensure it reflects your business activity.

One of the best ways of doing that will be to run the name by some friendly A-type customers (the rest don’t really matter) explaining the rationale for the change.

You might want to include running it by your accountant, business coach and legal advisor at the same time - They might introduce a few new things for that "cost" list you were preparing earlier.

Some Google searches might also bring to light similar names to the one that you are contemplating.

It's also essential to consider a complementary domain name to ensure it is available and there are no similar ones that are likely to cause confusion. An example of this might be that you were preparing to settle on a domain name ending with .com.au and your research shows there is already one ending with .net.au

Changing the name of your business has a lot to be said for it.

It’s not usually a priority for me as a business coach but where there is a solid business case for change then I am all for it. And for that reason you should involve your coach or advisor.


Mike Reddy is a Chartered Accountant, business coach and advisor helping businesses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast to easily increase their profits and cash flow. He is currently President of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, a Regional Councillor for Sydney North East and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sydney leadership team. As well as advising businesses, Mike presents business development seminars and webinars and is regularly contacted by the media to comment on small business matters. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.