Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

July 2014

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Selecting the right name for your business is as important as choosing the ideal name for your child. Just like a less than desirable name for your baby can actually lower self-esteem; an equally unfavorable business name upsets the future prospects of your business.

How do you deal effectively with this enormous responsibility?

Lacking a substantial budget for a global branding campaign to create awareness, build credibility and establish trust with your buyer persona, the time you invest on the front end to develop a distinctive and descriptive business name pays off.

Brainstorm Your Business Name

To get you started on the right foot, here are some well-thought out steps to make the process of naming your business more interesting, fun, and rewarding:

1. Gather the right people. Don’t name your business in a vacuum. It won’t be pretty as witnessed by numerous business names that should not have seen the light of day.

Be sure to include your marketing consultant/creative director. They have knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the marketing industry and bring their branding foresight into the circle of trust.

You’ll also want to include your graphic designer. Most graphic designers are geniuses when it comes to thinking in word pictures! You won’t want to miss out on having them contribute their creative juices to the project.

A former or a current client is a plus to have on your brainstorming team. They know you, know your work, and can generate lots of informed names based on their first-hand experience of your work.

How about a potential buyer? Obviously, this would be someone you know well enough to include in brainstorming. They come with few perceived ideas of what your business does and can put a fresh spin on your company’s name.

Last, but not least, include your strategic business coach! She has your best interest at heart and likely knows the inner workings of you and your business well enough to capture the essence of your business.

2. Assemble the right tools. Egad, how things have changed!

When we named Synnovatia in 1997, we had a thesaurus and dictionary on hand. Along with lots of paper, 5×7 cards, crayons, color pens, and what few online tools were available, we were equipped…or so we thought.

Today, a wealth of online resources and tools await any business owner naming their company. It’s like opening Pandora’s box. You are never sure of what you’ll find.

Although online resources are plentiful, we still recommend adding a bit of “old school” to the mix with construction paper, magazines, and color pencils…anything that can fuel your creativity.

3. Loosen up. Business name brainstorming is not a linear process. Consider adding creative exercises into the mix to get everyone out of their left-brain and into the right side of the brain for maximum creativity.

An occasional walk (or jog) around your business campus helps to break the logjam of creativity and refreshes the brain cells.

What did we use to loosen up when naming Synnovatia? Margaritas, chips, and salsa!

4. Generate a broad-spectrum of ideas. Before going too deep into identifying the ideal business name, consider your response to these questions:

  • What do you want your business to be known for?
  • How would you describe your business in one or two words?
  • How do others describe your business in one or two words?
  • What is unique about your business?
  • What is notable about the way your business delivers its products or services?
  • What word(s) are reflective of your identity?
  • If your business were a flower, car, or color, which would it be?

You’ll be surprised what you’ll discover during what may seem like a dull, boring exercise.

Write each idea produced on 5X7 cards. Place your concepts on a white board or a wall that allows you to see all your options at a glance.

5. Make friends with your thesaurus. Words are powerful. Modify one word with the click of the thesaurus and you have a formidable winner.

6. Combine words. Now the real fun begins. Randomly move your cards around on your white board. Mix and match to create a plethora of possibilities.

Experiment by combining portions of words that represent your business and its offerings. Don’t be afraid to be really playful! There are no bad ideas when brainstorming names for your business – at this stage.

7. Narrow your choices. After generating a reasonable number of possibilities, remove words that no longer fit or lack luster. Continue to purge, until you can purge no more!

8. Conduct due diligence. Now the real nail-biting part of the exercise begins as you vet your choices. Armed with several options, be sure to do your homework by considering domain availability and trademark.

Absent appropriate due diligence, a conflict with another business name – even if the names are not exact – can seem minor – until a “cease and desist” order is delivered to your door step.

Undoubtedly, the process you use to name your business can be daunting. Whatever name you select for your business that is descriptive, distinctive, memorable, and stands the test of time is worth the investment of time and energy to get it right the first time.

No matter how one feels about the skill of strategic thinking and planning, it is undoubtedly one of the most important activities for any business owner to perform. The effort put into thinking strategically about your business — and it’s future — not only keeps you focused and on track, it prevents wasting valuable time on activities that keep you stuck in neutral.

And, what could be more fun than not having to utter these words ever again:

  1. I wonder if this one will work,
    Frequently whispered when several choices are available.
  2. Maybe I’ll try this.
    Commonly stated mid-month when you realize that any strategy is better than no strategy.
  3. I haven’t a clue what works.
    Generally whispered after trying several strategies unrelated to each other — or your goals — of which none produced success.
  4. My fingers are crossed.
    Usually uttered, along with the legendary saying, “from your lips to God’s ears”, when you finally launch a growth imitative that you hope brings results.
  5. Hmmm, where was I? What was I working on?
    Habitually repeated when interrupted.
  6. Huh? What?
    Routinely expressed after discovering you’re uncertain what you were working on after checking email for the 6th time — this hour.
  7. I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m doing here.
    Ordinarily imagined at the conclusion of what feels like yet another unproductive day (said with head in hands.
  8. Maybe I’ll try this again.
    Normally stated following a Google search for ideas that netted few strategies of interest.
  9. Now what?
    Usually aired when the strategies that failed to produce results are repeated with the same dismal outcomes.
  10. I wonder if Starbucks is hiring?
    This is my personal favorite that few entrepreneurs will admit they have mumbled a time or two.

Do any of these phrases sound familiar? If so, trust me! You’re not alone. Although few entrepreneurs will admit to it, every successful business owner has uttered these words a time or two during their career — that is, until they got tired of working hard and going nowhere. That’s when they switched from tactical (what do I have to do today) to strategic (what do I do to move my business forward) thinking.

Are you ready for a bit of strategic movement in your business? Talk to our business strategist today. Discover what a strategic conversation can do for the future of your business.

As a thriving business continues to expand, the need for skilled service providers to support and expedite growth becomes more apparent. A flourishing business depends on service providers, such as accountants, copywriters, lawyers, telecommunication providers, and strategic business coaches for their expertise, industry knowledge, and timely service to take them to the next level. How can you be assured you select the ideal service provider for your business? It’s easy — once you know the right questions to ask.

The ability to discern which service provider drives or diminishes your business growth is important. Nothing is more frustrating to work with than a provider that isn’t a good fit. Time, money, and a few brain cells, are squandered because of incompatibilities…not to mention the energy lost from tolerating a poor fit.

Let the Vetting Begin! The Service Provider’s Pre-Cana

Vetting a possible service provider begins the moment you start your search.

During the screening process, your goal is to ensure a service provider is a good fit, capable of meeting your business needs, and able to deliver the outcomes you desire. Do your homework. In addition to scouring your network for trustworthy sources, conduct your own investigation.

Query your referral sources. What do they like and don’t like about their engagement with the service provider? Ask about the outcomes achieved.

Use social media and online review sites, like Yelp and Angie’s List, to uncover details about a potential service provider. What stands out? How do they respond to less than favorable reviews?

Once you reach out to a potential provider, make note on how they handle the initial request. Are they timely in their response? Do they communicate clearly?  What do they provide to help you prepare for your initial meeting? Are they punctual?

Although seemingly insignificant, these actions speak volumes about the quality and effectiveness of their business…and what it will be like to work with them.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

During the initial meeting, don’t wait for the service provider to tell you about their business, take the lead in asking carefully crafted questions to uncover what you need to know to determine whether or not you’re a fit. Here are a few to get you started:

1. Tell me about yourself and your business.
2. How long have you been in business?
3. What is your approach or philosophy in working with your clients?
4. What additional support or services do you provide?
5. Who is your ideal client?
6. What are your company’s strengths?
7. Who else might I be working with in your business?
8. What’s your policy for responding to requests by email or phone?
9. What is your approach to timelines?
10. Tell me about a particular client project (without divulging confidentiality) and the outcomes achieved?
11. What are your billing practices?
12. How do you communicate changes to your clients?
13. How do you best like to work with your clients?

A wise sage once said, “If you don’t have time to do things right the first time, how much time do you have to do them over.” The same truth applies to contracting with service providers.

Choosing service providers that meet the needs of your growing business is a big decision. Take your time, carry out your due diligence, and make sure you select the right service provider for your business the first time.

This article first appeared on The Huffington Post, What is Working: Small Business

As momentum builds in the economy, small businesses are enjoying a nice bump in business growth. (Can I get an “Amen”?!) The hard-working entrepreneurs who kept their “nose to the grindstone” are the business owners enjoying the fruits of their business development labor. During leaner times, they persisted to stay in front of their target audience…and it’s paying off!

If you’re one of those tenacious entrepreneurs, you are busier than ever delivering the core goods and services of your business! That’s the good news. Now for a word of caution…

The Cautionary Tale of Sustainable Small Business Growth

The very business actions that positioned your small business at the forefront of your marketplace and kept you at the top of your prospects’ mind, can easily get lost in the flurry of daily activity. Undertakings, such as social media, website updates, blogging, networking, marketing, bookkeeping, strategic planning and thinking — just to mention a few — are left to chance.

Consequently, over time, business momentum swings — and not in the direction you want it to go. Left unattended, critical business growth activities soon lose the hefty steam built during sparser spells.

Ask any small business entrepreneur who has neglected these essential activities. It’s not pretty! All their tough work is lost — along with the momentum they’ve worked so hard to achieve.

That’s why we say — don’t grow your small business alone!

Help Is on The Way: Prepare to Engage Service Providers

With cash flow relaxing and your availability tightening, it’s time to engage service providers to lend a helping hand. The right service provider can implement the business activities your small business needs to continue momentum and avoid a self-inflicted revenue slump.

Selecting a service provider can be daunting! Service providers either elevate or interrupt our business pursuits. Engage the right service provider and they exert influence on our business that expedites our success. Retain an ill-fitting, ill-equipped, or ill-prepared service provider and they add unnecessary stress and chaos to an already full day.

In many ways, when engaging a service provider, you’re entrusting them with the future of your business. Granted, you’ll continue to provide strategic oversight throughout any projects implemented by a service provider. However, a service provider can be a dream to work with or your biggest nightmare.

Engaging the best service providers for your business to keep it grooving and growing requires preparation. Here are a few steps to make sure you’re properly primed to involve the correct service providers to make your small business excel.

1. Develop a standardized process for engaging service providers. Like most small businesses, you’ll need a variety of service providers to grow a strong, successful business.

From web designers to an accountant to an attorney to a strategic business coach, you’ll likely have several people on your team that you’ll rely on to support your efforts to move your business forward strategically.

A standardized process for engaging all service providers, regardless of discipline, will save you time. It also allows for consistency in how service providers interact with you and your business to make it easier to manage and grow.

A standardized process supports your ability to objectively engage the type of service providers needed by your business without being swayed by their charming personality alone.

2. Identify the skills needed. Before entertaining a conversation with a vendor, make a list of the skills you want in a competent service provider.

In addition to a strong core competency in their particular field of interest (as evidenced by the results produced), you want your service provider to be proficient in the following skills:

  • Project management and organization to save you time and ensure your growth initiatives don’t get lost in their shuffle.
  • Written and verbal communication skills, including keen listening ability to make sure your needs are heard and understood.
  • Decision making with your best interest at heart.
  • Strategic planning and thinking that aligns suggestions and/or advice provided with your company’s mission, vision, and goals.
  • Critical analysis that allows them to accurately assess outcomes and make the necessary course corrections.

Additionally, you’ll find it beneficial to solicit input on needed skills from other members of your team.

3. Outline needs and expectations. Every small business owner has needs and expectations of those with whom they do business. Unfortunately, many are unsaid until an expectation is unsatisfied.

Clarity and communication of your needs and expectations reinforces your ability to pinpoint the right service provider for your business.

Here are some questions to consider when identifying the needs and expectations of your service providers:

  • Does your business need a quick turnaround or can it afford to wait 7 – 10 days for projects to be addressed?
  • What method of feedback and/or communication do you desire?
  • What time frame do you anticipate for a service provider to respond to your requests? Would you expect a 12-hour turnaround on responses to your communication or is 36 hours okay with you?
  • Are you looking for something transactional or do you prefer a long-term partnership with a service provider?
  • Do you need a strategic or a tactical service provider?

As you review these questions, there are likely many others you can add to your list. The most important piece, however, is to be relentless in carving out your needs and expectations.

When looking to engage others in growing your small business, you need more than an “expert”. You need a qualified, skilled service provider to come alongside of you and make your business shine.

Remember: this is your business. The better your needs are met by others, the better you’ll be able to meet the needs of your clients and grow your business.

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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