Is your business name actually free to use? And the perceived ‘legal’ roadblock that scares millennials away

Bulgaria
Me, again looking goofy, in front of what was a wall at the medieval fortress of Veliko Tarnovo.

Location: Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. Missed the bus to Varna, sitting in bus station drinking 40 cent coffee. Could be worse!

Plans this week: Saw the opera at the medieval fort in Veliko Tarnovo, not an opera type of person but the idea was nice. Heading to the Black Sea to check out the coast line today.

Also planning to bungee jump off Varna’s highest bridge, Bulgaria has to meet Europe’s health and safety standards now that it is in the EU, right?

You’ve chosen a name, you’ve got some product ideas, what next?

So you’ve got a name you like (whether it is a flexible one like mine, or one which is product specific), you’ve started to look at what products are available on Aliexpress or Modylist (or started to discuss manufacturing your own products if you’re not dropshipping) – what next?

Do your checks, like really, do them.

Before moving forward with your name, as mentioned last week, you want to be sure it is available. This is especially important if you choose not to dropship and thus will be likely churning out stickers, labels and products with the name printed all over them.

You don’t want to get a nasty letter in the mail a week after launch basically saying ‘pack it up, it’s over.’

I’ve made a mistake a little like this before. For this reason, it is unlikely Namaste Collective will ever be selling anything under the ‘clothing’ category – bugger.

Thus, despite all my advice to “move forward, push through and never slow down,” it is worth doing all the checks here, and I mean all.

Here are the main things you should be checking (most are Australian based, but similarly apply in an international context):

  • Business name registry: check for business name availability and also company name for future registration if you wish
  • Domain availability – Godaddy or Crazydomain
  • Trademarks – this is important, and most government platforms are pretty user friendly for this check. There are also pretty simple international checks. Not 100% fool proof, but generally will give you the yay or nay. Many people will get anxious here and spend $500-1500 on a lawyer to do these checks for them. In my opinion, this is not always necessary. Be thorough, get to know the checking platform, and if you’re still really unsure, leverage off some of your friends who know it better than you. Again, we are focusing here on starting a business while spending as little as possible.
  • Social media – check availability of accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest – this will become very important later. If one is taken, it’s not the end of the world, you can make variations (Charlie_spike_co), but don’t set yourself up against another account which would cause confusion.
  • Google it: Google variations with different words and different letters etc – check out the image results – imagine if Charlie Spike turned out to be a serial mass murderer in the 1800s – Good bloke to be selling lifestyle travel goods?

*Turns out ‘Charlie & Spikes’ is a company selling dog harnesses, so I won’t be able to enter market with this name should my first line of products flop. Also turns out Charlie Spikes is a ripper base-baller from the 1970s – good for him!

Here is how I initially recorded my checks – simple, a bit messy (my life is a bit messy), but does the job.

screenshot-buinsess-checks.png

Buy your domain

Pretty self explanatory, and more importantly, no tech knowledge required – I use GoDaddy. The domain shouldn’t cost you anymore than $10-$20.

If your domain is really expensive, or taken, change the name, it’s not worth the hassle, trust me!

I suggest always getting the ‘.com’ domain, and also the ‘.au’ if you plan to be really Australian focused for example.

Don’t become Buzzfeed’s latest joke!

www.masterbaitonline.com – What? It’s a fishing gear shop? Check it, I dare you.

Get a fresh pair of eyes over your domain. Just because you think it reads one way doesn’t mean your eyes agree with everyone else’s.

Ever think the creators of “www.expertsexchange.com’ (website designed for expertS to Exchange knowledge and services) followed this checking step here? Who know’s maybe they did, I mean, it looks like masterbaitonline have done it intentionally and it got me linking to them!

Regardless, it is worth checking this as confident as you may be that your name and your domain reads the way you perceive it.

By the way, I don’t think charliespike.com can be read any other way? Let me know if I’m wrong!

Business structure – call the lawyers!?:

So this is a part which seems to intimidate a lot of people – legal stuff.

Truth is it doesn’t have to be complicated!

Namaste Collective was set up as a ‘registered company’ with shares, directors, annual statements and all that crap. However, this was done for a number of reasons:

  • Multiple stakeholders (shareholders) involved, including investors;
  • Larger investment – with this company, more was on the line – there were trademarks, bulk purchases of stock etc;
  • Separate liability – a company structure can separate your personal liability from that of the company and this is often useful where the company will be entering into multiple large contracts with different parties;
  • Finally, it was affordable at the time. Registering a company (in Australia) can cost from $800-$1500 excluding any legal costs, but if you are very confident in the company’s ability to have a long life span, and the money does exist, it can be the best option to go for.

The alternative to this legal mess?

Sole Trader (or the overseas equivalent).

Most legal systems systems will allow you to set up a business running under your own name, your own bank account, and your own records.

This is the way to start with minimal risk! Why bother with lengthy registrations and expensive fees when you can start small, run it under your taxable income, and then if it does start to grow, register it separately.

Don’t get me wrong, there are of course downsides and risks involved, but I’ll let the lovely generous Australian government explain that in a simple form here.

If you’re looking to invest thousands, sure, a lawyer may be worth it, but remember if you want to minimise investment and thus risk, then cut all unnecessary costs and don’t allow yourself to push that ‘profit’ goal further away than it needs to be.

And finally, Shopify – here to save the day.

Start Now.

This will be your biggest saviour in the whole ecommerce business set up process. This is another bit people dread: ‘Building the website’.

It really makes setting up your own store so, so much easier than people expect.

It is pretty much a ‘backend’ for your ecommerce website that allows you to create a site with no real coding experience, and it also handles all customer data security, interactivity for mobile devices, applications for increasing conversions and anything else you could think of.

It’s not even worth explaining, just start the 14 day Free Trial, pick a free theme, and have a play. There are lots of resources and guides available, and also 24/7 live chat assistance.

It’s not always 100% easy, but if it was, then you would have a lot more people to compete against wouldn’t you!?

For me, as I am trying to make this business budget as possible, I have chosen a free Shopify theme I think fits well (enough).

Next week: Going on a product hunt

Next up is the tough one – product hunting and rock hard proof of why this is often where the headaches will start to occur (whether you’re drop shipping or making your own product).

*PS – Thanks for all the positive feedback, advice and criticism so far!

“Never assume that every critic is a hater. Not everyone is hating on you. Some people are just telling you the truth.”

Beer O’clock!

 

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