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Why And How To Rename Your Business

A rose by any name would smell as sweet. But when you’re renaming your business, watch out for the thorns.

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A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. – William Shakespeare

A strong business name identifies your business, tells customers and prospects something meaningful about your brand and helps to differentiate your business from your competition. But what should you do when the name you’ve been using isn’t effective at achieving those goals?

While it’s unwise to change your business name just because you’re in the mood for something new, there are times when a change is in your business’s best interest. Here are four reasons when a new name truly is the best choice, and seven tips to help you pull it off successfully.

1. Trademark issues

Occasionally more than one company has the same name. Or, the names are so similar that they may as well be the same. When this occurs, there’s a good chance that one company will get a cease-and-desist letter requesting that the other stop using that name.

And there’s no surprise there: Your business could lose money if someone else operates under the same name as yours.

This actually happened to Jacob Childrey and his established food spice company. He received a cease-and-desist letter from a much larger competitor. That’s how Childrey came to leverage (my employer) Crowdspring’s global community of 210,000-plus creatives to create a fresh, powerful new name for his company.

Scandal. You are at a big disadvantage too if another business with your name is caught up in a scandal. The resulting reputational blow will affect your business as well! So, it’s important to protect your business name to control your brand’s message and ensure that you’re not sharing your profits with a competitor. (For information on how to properly register and protect your business name, check out “What Small Businesses Need to Know about Trademarks.”)

Related: How to Name (Or In Some Cases, Rename) Your Company

2. Your name no longer reflects your business

business-sign

Businesses grow and change over time. Some business names are adaptable enough to survive this growth, some not. If your business has outgrown its name, it may be time to think about renaming.

Nellie Akalp, entrepreneur, author and small-business expert, has written on SmallBizTrends, “It’s only natural for a business to grow, evolve or change direction over the course of its lifetime. The name you hatched in the early days may no longer fit your business’s market, activities or brand personality now.” Questions to ask yourself include:

  • Have you recently switched to a new product or service?
  • Did your business merge with another?
  • Has your business philosophy or mission changed significantly?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, a new name may better reflect your brand’s current identity.

3. Your name is not unique

Your business name needs to stand out. It needs to be unique and support your business’s overall brand identity. Generic names like “Publishing Services” or “Professional Tax Accountants” don’t differentiate you from the competition. And they certainly aren’t memorable.

So, even if you deliver fantastic service, well-meaning customers may get your name wrong when they’re asked for referrals. Or they may not remember it at all. That means your word-of-mouth marketing will suffer. And so will your web marketing. If yours is one of 10 variations of the same generic business name, you will find it nearly impossible for customers to find you on the web. You don’t want them to sift through a full page of search results to find just the right “ABC Plumbing.”

Not to mention that no one really wants to do business with a generic, lackluster company.

Your business, your brand and your customers will all benefit if you switch to a more unique name that really embodies your brand.

4. Your name is confusing or hard to spell

If your business name is confusing or hard to spell, customers may be unable to find you. It’s that simple. A business name that doesn’t make sense and confuses consumers won’t be remembered.

In fact, there are aspects of brain science to consider here: Mariano Sigman, founder of the Integrative Neuroscience Laboratory of UBA, has written, “A memory is a network of connected elements.” The human brain stores and accesses memories based on associations between two or more pieces of information.

So, if your business name is confusing or unrelated to your business, chances are that consumers’ brains won’t form the necessary connections to see your business name and your business as linked. And, if the name is hard to spell, they may end up finding another business and sticking with it.

Related: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Naming Your Business (Infographic)

How to rename your business

If it’s time to rename your business, you’ll want to be careful to get things right this time around. You’ll also want to be realistic: Changing your name requires thought and work, not just on your part, but that of your customers. They’ve gotten to know your old brand; now, they’re being asked to unlearn all of that and start over.

This time round, then, follow these tips to name or rename your business to ensure that your new name serves your business well for the long run. For a longer, more detailed version, also be sure to read “10 Tips for Naming Your Startup or Small Business” – both are from our company.

Start with your brand. Your business name should be an extension and representation of your brand essence. So, start by thinking about your brand:

  • What does your business do?
  • How is your business different from your competition?
  • What is your brand’s personality? (Quirky, Solemn, Formal, Playful, Aggressive, Warm)
  • What is your unique value proposition?

Take your time. You knew your old brand, so you may be tempted to blow through this process. Don’t. Once you’ve defined your new brand, brainstorm names that support the most important elements. If a name doesn’t relate to your brand in a meaningful way, cut it from the list.

Make it easy to pronounce and spell. Hopefully, this is self-explanatory. In the age of Google and the internet of things, it’s vital that your business be easy to find online.

Margaret Wolfson, founder and chief creative officer of branding/naming agency  River + Wolf, pointed out that “a visible digital presence is absolutely critical to the success of any business. You want people to be able to search for and find you with little effort.”

So, don’t choose a name that makes it hard to find you, or is something even a Rhodes scholar can’t spell.

Avoid too narrow and too wide – aim for the Goldilocks zone. Choose a name that is unique, but flexible enough to allow your business room to grow. Review prospective names to ensure you avoid names that are:

  • linked to specific technologies likely to become outdated (remember Radio Shack?)
  • have a focus so narrow that they preclude future evolution (i.e., “Just Cabinets”)
  • contain geographical references that may make your business irrelevant in a broader market
  • so broad or generic without personality that they don’t tell consumers anything about your brand 

Wolfson noted that a name should be able to embrace eventual product extensions. A notable example is the name change Steve Jobs made from “Apple Computer” to “Apple.” This gave the company room to grow into not-yet-imagined watches, iPads and iPhones.

Don’t forget to differentiate. Do you know who your competitors are? It’s vital that your new business name help your brand stand out from them. So, get to know who they are. Then choose a name that can’t be confused with theirs.

Otherwise, you’ll be back at this renaming rodeo again before you know it.

Related: Watch List: 20 SA Tech Entrepreneurs Making It Big In The Industry

Get your logistical ducks in a row. Renaming your business isn’t just a creative branding endeavor — it’s also a practical one. Here are the logistical and legal chores you’ll need to complete:

  • Ensure the name is available to trademark (Check the Trademark Electronic Search System [TESS] on the USPTO website).
  • Check to see if an appropriate domain name is available. I recommend searching here.
  • Register the new name with your state and/or the Federal Trademark Commission. You can read up on the basics of trademarking here and research the requirements for your state here.
  • Update or amend any legal documents to reflect your new name.
  • Notify the IRS of your new name.

For a more in-depth look at all of the practical steps to fully updating your business name, check out this article.

Remember to tell your story. Renaming your business isn’t ever just renaming – it’s also rebranding. And part of a successful rebranding process is figuring out the authentic brand story you want your audience to associate with your business.

Since your business name is a central element of your brand, it’s essential that you figure out how your new name relates to that brand story. Alina Wheeler’s recently updated book Designing Brand Identity addressed this issue, pointing out that names are powerful tools, but they don’t tell the whole story. A name change alone – that neglects to consider all brand communications – could be seen as superficial.

Whether you opt for a social media campaign, an email series to existing customers, a television or radio ad, make sure your customers can see and understand the new you.

Update all branding elements. Sharing your brand story is an important piece of the renaming/rebranding process. To make it stick, you’ll need to update all of your visual branding elements. This includes updating your business logo, business cards and stationery, your website and any other visual collateral like data sheets, or marketing collateral.

As Wheeler recommends that you:

  • Consider how new taglines, design, communications and other context-building tools should work with the new name to build a rich new story that you can own.
  • Think holistically. Whenever you rename a business, make sure that name is part of a complete, authentic brand.
  • Recognise that every aspect of your brand will be impacted from start to finish. Make sure to complete the transformation your name change will start throughout your brand.

Final thoughts

Changing your business name is a hassle. It can be tough on your business to rebuild relationships after a change of that magnitude. So, if you can avoid it, don’t do it. But, if you find yourself facing a cease-and-desist order or running a business that just doesn’t match up with the name it’s operating under, you may have to.

When you realise that a name change is in your future, gird your loins and make sure to get it right this time around.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Start-up Advice

Start-ups Need More Than Money To Succeed – They Need Smart Money

Start-ups need investors who bring not only cash to the table, but also their networks and business acumen.

Max Lyadvinsky

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Ask any start-up what the single most important element to success is and – more often than not – the answer will be money. Financing always ranks as a high priority for the small fish trying to make it happen in the big pond of business – but often discussed with less fanfare is where this cash comes from and what will come with it. These are actually the most important details to a start-up.

That is not to say that money is not important. In fact, the second most common reason for start-up failure is lack of funding, according to CB Insights. Although, perhaps ironically enough, the top reason for start-up failure is lack of market need – a problem which could have been identified and avoided by investors who bring money with direction and money with experience.

Start-ups don’t just need money, they need smart money.

Start-ups need investors who bring not only cash to the table, but also their networks and business acumen. Essentially, they bring experience and direction to outfits that are usually inexperienced or directionless. So, let’s talk smart money and the start-up.

What is smart money?

“Smart money” refers to investors who are simply more intuitive and aware of market movements and business health. The Financial Times describes “smart money” as “sophisticated investors who tend to pick the right moment to buy or sell assets because they can identify trends and opportunities before others do.” These investors calculate based on history and profit and invest accordingly. Where they go, other investors follow.

These business heavyweights are invaluable to a startup because they put more than simply their money where their mouth is; they also invest their expertise. A start-up could have all the money in the world but it will fail more without the proper business direction and market placement.

Smart money works best for start-ups when nascent businesses pair with investors who provide a holistic approach to business. They can help in hiring the best talent, attracting interest from the most relevant stakeholders, securing a continuous presence in the press, avoiding pitfalls and, ultimately, fulfilling ambitions.

There are more than a few ways that money can be termed as smart. Perhaps the cash infusion also comes with experts in thought leadership and strategy, or executional capacity, or the ability to increase sales and raise funds. Whatever the method, smart money brings something more to the table than dollars. This becomes abundantly clear when conducting post-mortems of the startups which have failed.

Related: Government Funding And Grants For Small Businesses

Why do start-ups fail?

Start-ups fail all the time – and it is important to understand why. As mentioned above, the top reason start-ups fail is simply the lack of market need. Tackling problems that are interesting to solve rather than those that serve a market need is the most common issue start-ups cite for their downfall. The next most common reason for start-up failure, as likely predicted, is money. Smart or not, money does need to flow into any start-up to make it possible. Meanwhile, the third most common reason for startup collapse was team composition. More to the point: Start-ups need to comprise a diverse team with different skill sets.

These top three reasons for start-up failure could be solved with the right management approach from the top down. Each of these reasons can be addressed with smart money. The right business and management structure will allow the right hires to be made and course to be charted. Smart investors can identify the right people for your team and help you to hire staff who will take the business to the next level.

While start-ups think money is the key, it is not the end-all and be-all for their potential success. They need skills and networks. Business and innovation expert Rosemarie Truman explained this misunderstanding best: “A common mistake entrepreneurs make in their struggle to find funding is focusing too much on getting the money under specific terms and not paying enough attention to who is providing the funds.”

Show me the (smart) money

Savvy entrepreneurs recognise their businesses need more than cash to be successful – especially those at the top. Alibaba chief executive officer Jack Ma, who ranks as one of the richest people in the world, described the need for smart hires and smart staff as thus: “At first, I knew nothing about technology. I knew nothing about management. But, the thing is, you don’t have to know a lot of things. You have to find the people who are smarter than you are.”

Smart business owners want to work with investors who provide not just money but also their expertise, time and access to networks – and this is especially important for businesses looking to scale. The proof is in the research: Take for example a paper by Morten Sorensen, professor of finance at Copenhagen Business School, about venture capital and its impact on an overall business. Sorensen found that companies funded by more experienced venture capital funds were more likely to go public, and also that more experienced venture capital funds invest in better companies, leading to better long-term business health.

So, the question then becomes: Where does one access smart money? The answer will depend on whom is asked, but startups that have survived and later grown into viable businesses are a good place to start. The founders of collaborative blogging platform Niume, Daniel Gennaoui and Francesco Facca, have this advice for start-ups who are on the hunt for smart money:

“First, you need a strong founding team with complementary skills that can actually deliver on their promises. Second, you need a working minimum viable product (MVP), showing that there is traction and interest for the product and people willing to use and pay for it,” the founders said. “The actual amount they invest is far less important than the value they bring to your company.”

It is also worth noting that crowdfunding can be considered a form of smart money, as it brings an ecosystem of partners who will help to scale and countless brand ambassadors who have invested their hard-earned cash.

Related: The DTI Funding Guide You’ve Been Looking For: The What And How

It’s simply more than capital

Gaining start-up finance is not only venture capital or crowdfunding – it should also provide an ecosystem of business management and be viewed as such. It’s simply wrong to think funding is only funding. Start-ups can have all the money in the world but will fail more often than not without the proper business direction and market placement. Those who want to make a lasting impression in their given field need the guidance and support smart money brings.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Start-up Advice

7 Lessons For The New Entrepreneur To Take Into 2019

You already have what it takes to make this year successful, but keep these points in mind.

Dr John Demartini

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Human behaviourist, Dr John Demartini upacks some important lessons that new entrepreneurs would be wise to take into the new year.

1. Find a need to fill that will also fulfill you as well

First and foremost, the most important thing an entrepreneur needs to do is to find out what exactly it is that businesses or people need, and make sure that this matches what is absolutely most meaningful and inspiring to you.

This need or value that you are going to fill must also be important to you and on your list of highest values so that you have a relentless drive to go and serve this need. In other words, it is important to make sure that you are doing something that’s meaningful and inspiring to you and serves a great number of people.

Related: Awaken Your Entrepreneurial Spirit

2. Clearly define all the functions required to build your business

Those functions are based on exactly what is systems and structures are required to fulfill your customer’s needs or values and to profit.

You must imagine every single step required to serve the customer. This helps build an infrastructure step by step.

3. Meet the need and generate the income

I think a great number of entrepreneurs set up fantasies that they have to depend on money to get their business started. Many have this grandiose idea that they’re going to do this, and then they need a certain amount of capital to get it going, instead of going in and actually meeting a need and generating income and then infusing capital into a proven model.

If you do it that way, then you don’t have to give away portions of your business and accumulate possibly unnecessary debt.  Ask how you can be paid up front to fulfill each essential step instead of how you can borrow to fulfill them. Sure selling in advance is often wiser than borrowing and gambling on what customer might want.

Those who decide to wait for capital before they start their business often feel they can’t get it started without outside capital. Then, a year later they’re still trying to get the capital together to get their business started. It’s often wise to actually make sure you have something that really meets a need and be willing to work from the grassroots up and prove yourself and then infuse capital based on what’s already produced and proven and build it that way.

Related: 7 Character Traits Every Entrepreneur Can Cultivate

4. Manage money wisely

Save a portion of the money earned, and take another portion and return it back into the business to grow it. It’s important to have a liquid cushion – it’s unwise spending all your money or putting all of it back into the business and then having no cushion to fall back on.

Make sure that a portion of the money is put into liquid cash. The greatest companies have a great reserve of cash. Liquid cash is important. Many entrepreneurs are gambling instead of investing and looking for a quick return instead of being patient.

5. Have adequate liquidity to prevent opportunity take overs

Watch out for opportunists – when you are running a successful business. There will be opportunists who come along and offer to purchase the business for much less than it may be worth.  That is another reason to have adequate liquid capital on hand, because without it, you can become vulnerable to others coming in and taking over the business. Leverage buyouts can occur.

Remember, cash is king. Cash grabs opportunities. So be sure to save and invest.

6. Keep focused

If you are not making money, then you must not be serving people. So make sure you are truly meeting your customer’s needs and serving them. Don’t take your focus off your mission. Don’t forget what got you to a point of success.

Related: Make A New Start In 2019

7. Be true to yourself

Don’t try to be somebody that you are not. Don’t envy and imitate other companies, you may end up not being authentic and true to what your values are. It is wiser to recognise where and when you already own the traits of those you admire according to your own highest values.  You already have what it takes.

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Start-up Advice

Outdoor Versus Indoor: How Different Conditions Will Impact Your Budding Marijuana Business

When starting out you should know the difference between indoor and outdoor production and why it matters to your future cannabis business.

Nicole Crampton

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If you’re looking to start growing and cultivating a strategy in the hopes that weed will be legalised, you’ll need to do some experimentation. Growing marijuana is a science and will require more than just a splash of water every other day like normal house plants.

Firstly, you’ll need to determine if you can grow your “crop” outside or if you’ll need to set-up a space inside. Here is what you need to know about growing cannabis inside versus outside:

Optimised versus natural

Deciding which option will work better for you depends on your unique circumstances. If you have access to an outdoor area you can use the natural resources of the sun and wind. If, on the other hand, you prefer to grow your crop inside you’ll need to cater for the natural elements you’ve lost, but you can also optimise the environment to give you exactly what you’re looking for.

When growing indoors you can control:

  • Temperature
  • Light source
  • CO2 production
  • Humidity.

This will create a stable habitat for your weed plant to grow in, without having to risk any outdoor elements. Keep in mind, no bulb is going to be able to produce the same spectrum of light as the Sun, which will leave you will smaller yields and less vigorous plants.

You’ll also find it challenging to simulate the natural environment. For example: wasps, ants and ladybugs are natural helpers against mites, you won’t be able to mimic this ecosystem indoors, and if your plants become infested with mites it can be difficult to control. To avoid using pesticides and insecticides some cultivators could find the trade-off of growing outdoors appealing.

Outdoor growers will need a suitable climate for cannabis production such as:

  • Good sun exposure
  • Hot days, warm nights
  • Low humidity.

cannabis-production-pros-and-cons

Related: 6 Fundamental Steps To Consider Before Venturing Into The South African Cannabis Industry

Can you afford to grow indoors versus outdoors?

planting-marijuanaWhether you’re growing indoor or outdoor there will be significant initial costs, however, the difference will come in when it comes to long term costs.

An indoor climate control system can be quite capital intensive compared to outdoor where the majority of the costs are in the initial start-up.

The expected labour costs for indoor and outdoor are also quite different. There is always work that needs to be done to create an optimal environment with indoor marijuana growing. With a smaller yield, like in indoor growing, pruning, trellising, watering, feeding and harvesting are more demanding and continuous.

When growing cannabis outdoors, you’ll work on one crop throughout the seasons. A farm with a large output typically can sustain four full-time workers until harvest, when more employees will be needed.

You can recoup the high cost of indoor weed farming through:

  • Breeding projects
  • Year-round harvests
  • Potent products
  • Higher selling points.

Indoor marijuana farming also allows you to cultivate strains that wouldn’t thrive outdoors.

Pro tip: Keep in mind, with the rising cost of energy and an increasing demand for more product within the current marketplace, outdoor farming could produce quality product at a more reasonable price.

indoors-versus-outdoors-pros-and-cons

Related: 12 Cannabis Products You Can Legally Start Selling Right Now

Will outdoor or indoor offer you better quality?

Being able to optimise your environment and accelerate breeding has allowed indoor cannabis to hold the title of top of the line product and generate beautiful strains with powerful flavour profiles. With indoor marijuana growth you can increase the CO2 level increasing bud growth and producing higher THC levels, which are difficult to obtain outdoors.

Indoor buds also remain in pristine condition as they aren’t exposed to the elements. Having an indoor operation enables you to harvest crops at peak conditions and curing the product in a controlled climate.

On the other hand, many users prefer the sun-grown organic marijuana. Although the actual plants tend to be more damaged, so the product isn’t as pristine. However, once you’ve gained enough experience you should be able to produce products of the same high quality as indoor growers.

outdoor-quality-pros-and-cons

Related: 10 Cannabis Business Opportunities That Can Grow Your Wealth

The best of both options

There has been a growing trend of commercial greenhouse marijuana farming. This seems to capture the best of both methods. It produces high quality cannabis, while using natural elements and optimised environments simultaneously.

Both styles of farming offer positives and negatives, and as a consumer or a future producer, you’ll need to continually educate yourself on the current trends. Continue to evolve your process, try something new and keep your mind open to possibilities.

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