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Naming Your Business

Seven ways to choose the right name for your business.

Bertie du Plessis

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Did you know there are only a limited number of options to name an enterprise? What a relief, isn’t it? As a matter of fact there are only seven really different ways in which you can create a name for your business or product and I am going to show them to you. However, before we get to the seven ways, we must first get a strategic issue out of the way. Going through the seven options with the wrong strategy will only help you from the frying pan into the fire.

So, let’s quickly play a game.

What would you choose?

Upfront I offer you a name that won’t harm your enterprise.  Take it, off you go to a flying start! It is not a “Wow!” but it will work. Most importantly it won’t harm your business.

However, I also have a secret name in a box. If you reject the “plain” name that I offer you upfront, you may choose the name in the box. But, wait, here’s the trick! In the box can be either of two names.  Name A is an absolutely fabulous, mindboggling “Wow!” name for your venture.  Name B on the other hand is a very inappropriate, “ouch!” name for you business. For our experiment’s sake you will have to use whatever you choose. Once taken you can’t discard.

What do you do? Take the appropriate, but uninspiring name and get off to a flying start? Or do you take the chance and choose the box – at least you have a fifty-fifty chance of getting a fabulous name for your business?

What you should do, is choose the appropriate if uninspiring name, because a name alone will not guarantee business success. A business is by far too complex for that. A bad name, however, may positively harm your business. I have seen some really bad names for businesses which the owners justified by saying that “they wanted to be different.”  Yes, we need to differentiate, but if we are too different your market will fail to make the connection between their needs and your offering! Many things will differentiate your brand. The onus is not on the name alone! When you come to a professional agency for name development, the greater part of the fee will be for preventing you choosing a name that will make you look foolish and harm your business!

Before you even begin to name you enterprise, make the right strategic decision. If, by luck or inspiration you do stumble on a “Wow!” name, good for you! You are lucky, but don’t over estimate the power of a name in business success!

Now we get to the tricks of naming a business or enterprise.

1. A personal name

If you are in the services industry, your first choice should always be your own name. Only when there are compelling reasons to the contrary (for instance: you are afraid if you fail, your name might be tarnished), should you choose anything else. Take your name in the real world, for instance Sue McGregor and add the description of your business, for instance “Sue McGregor Financial Advisors.”   Your biggest advantage in small businesses is you yourself; especially in services. Use your name to give personality and a face to your business. Personalise, personalise, personalise!

2. Combine two words to create a metaphor

Take two words and combine them to make a new word with a new meaning, “airbus,” for example.  A bus transports passengers in bulk on land. Combining the word bus with the word air creates a new meaning, bulk passenger transport by air.  You use a part of the meaning of one or both of the words.

3. Combine two units of meaning (morphemes) to create a new word

“Provita,” the name for the well-known health biscuits come from “pro” meaning “for, on behalf of” and “vita” life. This is very powerful.

4. Create an acronym from the first letters of a description

This is very popular way with technology companies.  “Intel” comes from “Integrated electronics.”  “Modem” comes from modulator emulator.  The important thing to remember is that the name must sound like a real word. This means that you should have vowels attached to consonants as in In and tel.  Don’t, don’t have only consonants such as BRD or RDF.  “IBM” only works because it first was Industrial and Business Machines, became well-known, and was then abbreviated. You are not IBM!

5. Take a part of what you do and use it to refer to the entire enterprise

“Staples” is only an (insignificant) item on the list of office supplies, but it is the name of a large supplier of all kinds of office supplies in the US. Windows is only the obvious visual part of the office software package.

6. Take a well-known word from one area of life and apply it to your enterprise

“Diesel” is the name of type of fuel, but it is applied to a well-know clothing brand. In this case the word carries emotional overtones of “rugged” and “working class.”  “Apple” is another example. The trick here is to choose words with emotional associations that will support your enterprise.

7. A totally new word that has not existed before

There is a strong case to be made that this may yet be the best of all options for a product or large enterprise. Examples are “Exxon,” “Sony” and “Kodak.

Finally your biggest no-no is to be generic.  You can’t be “Our Game Farm” or “The Pharmacy” or “My wine.” As an individual you don’t want to be known as “My father’s son.”  You want to have a name! The Internet has not changed this at all.  Remember, books.com got nowhere, but Amazon did!   Search.com got nowhere, but Google did!  It’s counter-intuitive but indisputable true!

Bertie du Plessis founded his successful consultancy firm, MindPilot, 17 years ago. He names several of South Africa’s blue chip corporations among his client list and has taught as a lecturer and guest lecturer in six different disciplines at tertiary institutions. His fin24.com blog is the most read business blog on the 24.com domain. Visit Bertie Du Plessis's website for more information.

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Entrepreneur Today

Business Linkages And Investment Readiness

The Africa Women Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) is hosting its flagship Growth Accelerator Programme for 2018, sponsored by Nedbank.

Entrepreneur

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The Africa Women Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) is hosting its flagship Growth Accelerator Programme for 2018, sponsored by Nedbank. AWIEF is seeking 25 ambitious, innovative and committed early-growth-stage South African women entrepreneurs, from a variety of sectors, looking for support to scale their businesses.

Access to finance is the most cited challenge to the growth of women-owned businesses in Africa. Bankability and investment readiness are major impediments to attracting business finance.

This is an intensive six-week programme designed to support participants with the business modelling and growth strategy required to scale their enterprises, become investment ready and develop entrepreneurial leadership. The programme will cover:

  • purpose and values
  • target market, competitive landscape and value proposition
  • delivery model
  • financial modelling
  • conduct a creative force
  • growth strategy
  • financing for scale
  • pitch training.

Related: Watch List: 50 Black African Women Entrepreneurs To Watch

Nirmala Reddy, Senior Manager of Nedbank Enterprise Development, says: ‘We support initiatives such as this in line with our pledge to help clients see money differently, which is aimed at making a difference in South Africa, not just for women and children and business, but also for communities throughout the country. The bank strongly focuses on the development of female employees and black-women-owned suppliers, and this can be seen through our development and training programmes. We are also proud that women make up 62% of the workforce at Nedbank.’

The 2018 AWIEF Growth Accelerator, with its first 25 participants, is implemented as a build-up programme that will culminate at the 2018 AWIEF Conference, Exhibition and Awards event taking place on 8 and 9 November at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, where participating entrepreneurs will pitch their business to an audience of investors, business leaders and corporate decision-makers.

The three best ventures stand to win monetary prizes from AWIEF and financial management advice from Nedbank.

The programme details are as follows:

  • Dates: Starts on 17 September and culminates on 8 and 9 November 2018
  • Location: Cape Town and Johannesburg
  • Participation fee: Free 

Eligibility

Businesses must be:

  • in a post-revenue phase;
  • scalable and innovative ventures;
  • in operation for not less than two years (ideally three to five years);
  • owned or led by ambitious and committed women entrepreneurs; and
  • seeking investment or funding to grow.

If you are interested in participating, click here to apply. Applications close on 31 August 2018.

The event is hosted by AWIEF and sponsored by Nedbank.

Read next: Kid Entrepreneurs Who Have Already Built Successful Businesses (And How You Can Too)

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Lessons Learnt

Give Your Business The Best Chance Of Success

For that to happen an entrepreneur must distil the business’s reason for being and then doggedly pursue that vision.

Gil Sperling

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In my capacity as a business owner and venture capitalist, one of the questions I get asked most often by entrepreneurs is, “how do I ensure my business succeeds?” While there’s no straightforward answer, there are important elements that I believe every entrepreneur must consider to ensure the greatest probability of success.

Firstly, no business will succeed if it doesn’t solve a unique pain point or problem for modern consumers or businesses. However, even if a business is able to carve out that niche, there’s no guarantee that growth will follow. For that to happen an entrepreneur must distil the business’s reason for being and then doggedly pursue that vision.

North Star metric

This principle of having a clear business vision guides all my decisions. Whenever I need to validate a choice or a change in strategic direction, or if I’m trying to determine what to focus on, I always refer back to my vision. If the two are incongruent, then I know I need to change tack.

Elon Musk is a great example of a successful entrepreneur who is guided by his grand vision. Everything he does, from Tesla to SpaceX, pertains to sustainability, both for the planet and the human race. It might be hard to make the connection when you consider his various businesses out of context, but everything he creates fits into a broader ecosystem that in some way moves the needle towards his ultimate objective. Developing Tesla cars that run on renewable energy is but a small, short-term plan that feeds into his grand vision, yet it’s also been the catalyst for the evolution of the motoring industry.

Related: The Popimedia (Mega) Success Story

Be clear, concise

In the same way, every decision an entrepreneur makes should in some way take them a step closer to realising their vision. In this regard, it is also vital that your vision is crystal clear – a murky or undefined vision will divert you off your path to success.

That’s because you’ll tend to focus on the wrong things, especially when scaling rapidly, or when running bigger organisations, because there are many tasks to complete every day. A lack of clarity also leads to poor decision-making, or, worse, decision paralysis, and that’s business suicide – I’d rather make a bad decision than no decision at all, because it prompts action. However, with a clear vision, more often than not, those decisions will be correct.

Defining your vision

So, how do you know if your vision is clear and, more importantly, relevant and consequential? The way I stress test my vision is to evaluate it every day against the decisions I take, and the direction of the business. This daily process helps to sharpen my decisions over time.

The other step is to remain open-minded enough to accept and acknowledge criticism, and take on board advice from trusted confidants and impartial experts. This is important, because you need to craft your vision based on as much information as possible, including valid criticism.

Ultimately, though, your vision for the business should align with your purpose. Forget about money and turnover as points of departure when defining your vision. These are merely metrics that can determine the strength and effectiveness of your business strategy.

For each of my several business interests, be it VC funding or ad-tech innovation, I have different visions. Each are meaningful to me, but in every instance, I don’t wake up every day with the sole ambition of making money.

While I need to make money to grow these businesses, or build something new, having purpose and vision are the ways I pull through those inevitable challenging situations. Having your vision front of mind in everything you do helps you make better decisions, and makes the hardships easier to endure. It helps you see through the turmoil, because you know where the process will lead, and you always know where the ultimate objective lies.

Read next: A Comprehensive List Of Angel Investors That Fund South African Start-Ups

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Managing Staff

An Excellence Approach To Nurture Star Performers

Talent management is the commitment to continuously nurture and align individual attitude and performance, job requirements and organisational culture through excellent performance management.

Adri Dörnbrack

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1. An excellent view of Talent Management

Any sports team needs to measure the vital statistics and performance of each member. “Metrics” like cadence, heart rate, output ratios etc. are important, for the whole to eventually be greater than the sum of its parts.

Similarly, leaders need to measure (without micro managing) employee performance to get a better understanding of what makes the individual stand out. Leaders need to understand how to adapt environments so that everyone can be exceptional.

Not creating a culture of unhealthy competition, but one where every individual’s contribution is understood and valued, and individual work experience is adjusted to accommodate uniqueness, will keep individuals performing at their peak, while enjoying what they do and understanding the purpose of their work.

2. Nurturing star performers

Employees should be given the best possible opportunity to serve in a work context that is optimal for their skillset and temperament. Talent management is based on the organisation’s commitment to surround all employees with people, practices and processes that will grow them to their full potential.

From a deep understanding of the talent pool a business can distinguish between top, great, good and poor performers. Having a suitable and fair measurement tool in place is critical in this regard. This allows management to clearly understand why people are in different performance categories, and provides insights on what pro-active actions can be taken to develop people into their full capacity.

People are highly influenced by work-related relational contexts and environments. Poor performers can become top performers when there are leadership changes or job changes that simply fit better, but also vice versa. Top performers can become poor performers due to illness or other job related changes. There have also been cases where top industry performers join a different organisation and then struggle to perform due to the individual not aligning with the new organisational culture.

Related: These 4 Types Of ‘Nightmare Managers’ Are Scaring Employees Away

Excellent talent management considers all of these factors:

  • Understand who the star performers are, and why they are viewed as top performers. (Know and acknowledge what they contribute in terms of both job deliverables and attitude).
  • Understand the relationship between the top performer and their leader.
  • Understand the culture of the department and why this fit works for this individual.
  • Then, for the future of work: Consider adapting working conditions or terms of employment in order to keep the star performers (Eg. Flexible working hours, virtual offices, or shorter terms of employment to ensure growth opportunities.)

The biggest contributing factor to ensure excellent talent management is to continuously understand and communicate what is expected from an individual, to have measures in place to know if the individual achieves this, to know what value this adds to the business – and then making sure that they are compensated accordingly.

3. What star performers desire from corporate culture

People don’t want to work merely for personal gain. They want to connect and contribute to a business that shares their values and contributes towards the development of a healthy world and better society.

Spiritual intelligence is becoming increasingly important. This trumps mere personal self-actualisation, and entails feeling connected to a business that has a bigger shared purpose than just making a profit.

People want to connect with businesses that have integrity, moral leaders, and feel part of a network that are responsible stewards, who will value their total personal contribution and help them grow as star top performers within a star team.

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