Episode 17: How to Name Your Business

In this week's episode, I'm sharing my experience naming my business, and the mistakes I made along the way so that YOU can avoid them from the start.
Coach with Clarity Podcast - How to Name Your Business

17: How to Name Your Business

What's in a name? When it comes to your coaching business, a lot! In fact, one of the most common questions I get from new coaches is how to name their business. Should they use their own name, or come up with something catchy?

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Show Notes

What's in a name?

When it comes to your coaching business, a lot!

In fact, one of the most common questions I get from new coaches is how to name their business. Should they use their own name, or come up with something catchy?

Today’s episode was inspired by one of the women who recently participated in my Business Basics for Coaches workshop, who asked me about naming her business. I realized I have a ton to share about this so, I thought today I would kick things off with a story about my experience naming my business and offers as a new coach and all the mistakes I made along the way to Coach with Clarity.

I'm going to walk you step by step through each one of my errors and my suggestions for what you can do instead so that you can choose a name that works. And for my experienced coaches who already have a business name that isn’t quite right? Not to worry, I’ve been there, and I’ve got you covered too! If you can learn from my mistakes, I am happy to share them with you.

Topics covered

  • How I started my coaching journey
  • Why I didn’t name my business after myself
  • The meaning behind the name Caravel Coaching
  • How I came up with the names for my first coaching packages
  • The huge problem with my initial approach to naming my business
  • How you can avoid my me-focused naming error
  • The naming strategy that will help to pre-sell your ideal clients on working with you
  • Why my brand pivoted into Coach with Clarity
  • The power of being clear and concise
  • How changing my package names helped my business to grow
  • One question to ask yourself to test the clarity of the names you choose
  • How to think big when naming your business and your offers
  • Why it’s not too late to make a change if you’re not aligned with your business name

Resources mentioned

Now it’s time for you to show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity! Screenshot this episode and tag me on Instagram @coachwithclarity and let me know what you’re more excited to explore in future podcast episodes!

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Well, hey there friend. Welcome back to another episode of the Coach with Clarity podcast. My name is Lee Chaix McDonough, and this episode is a really cool one because it was inspired by you! Actually, it was inspired by one of the women who recently participated in my Business Basics for Coaches workshop. I'll tell you a little bit more about that later. 

But one of her questions to me was, how did you name your business? Or really, how should I name my business? And I thought to myself, Oh, my goodness, I have so much to say on this topic, in large part because I made so many mistakes early in my business when it came to naming my business and naming my programs. 

So I thought today, I would kick things off with a story about how I evolved into Coach with Clarity as my business and brand name, and all of the mistakes I made along the way, and actually highlight the three errors I made that I would love for you to avoid when it comes to naming your business or your programs. Again, if you can learn from my mistakes, I am happy to share them with you, and my hope is that by the end of today's episode, you will have additional clarity around how to approach naming your business, naming any of the programs or offerings you provide, and how to really step into this name as your brand identity.

So I started my coaching business in June of 2016, so when this podcast episode airs, I will be celebrating my four year anniversary. And prior to being a coach and owning my own business, I was a clinical social worker and a therapist who worked for other people, I had always been a W-2 employee. Either I worked for the federal government or the United States Air Force or contracting organizations, or hospitals or clinics. Any previous job i'd held, I had been an employee. 

So I didn't have a lot of experience with what went into actually starting a business, to be quite honest with you. I kind of learned as I went along, made some wonderful decisions, and some ones that wound up being great life lessons, and naming my business was one of them. 

So when I first started my business, the one thing I was sure about is that I did not want to use my name. I did not want it to be Lee Chaix McDonough Coaching. Now, that's not because I have a problem with people using their name to describe their business, and in fact, you may decide that that is 100% the right choice for you. You may decide that your name should be Jane Doe Coaching. So that is a fantastic choice for you. 

For me, I knew it was going to be a difficult choice because – Lee Chaix McDonough – let's face it, that's kind of a tough name. First, my parents named me Lee spelled L-E-E, which traditionally has been the masculine spelling, and I get more junk mail addressed to Mr. Lee Chaix McDonough than you would believe. So there was some confusion about who I was simply from the name Lee. And then Chaix and McDonough are impossible to spell and even more difficult to pronounce, so I knew personally, that leading with my name, as the name of my business was going to be confusing, it was going to be difficult, and it wasn't going to create that initial impression or experience that I wanted my clients to have. 

So from the get go, I knew that my name was not going to be a part of my business brand. But besides that, I really didn't know where to begin. So I started to think about the things that I liked the things that meant a lot to me, and concepts that I thought I could build a business identity around. And something that came pretty quickly was this idea of building it around the sea. 

So my grandfather was a captain of the Coast Guard, I had grown up boating, the town I live, in New Bern, North Carolina, is known for its boating and its sailing because we are right where two rivers meet, and it's not that far from the Atlantic Ocean. So this idea of framing my business and my business name around the sea, I thought could be kind of cool. 

Then I started looking at different concepts and ideas and words that were related to the sea and to sailing and to boating. And I discovered the word caravel. So Caravel is a type of ship. And initially when the caravel was created, it was meant to be a merchant ship that simply went from port to port to port. It was not meant for long distances, and it was not meant for for huge speed. It really was meant for commerce. 

Well, the caravel wound up being repurposed, so that it could be a ship used for exploration. And actually, it was one of the ships used when Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. One of the ships, I believe it was the Pinta, was the caravel. So as I was learning more about the caravel, I thought, Oh, I like that – Caravel Coaching. There's some nice alliteration there, and there's a huge metaphor behind it. Because in many ways, the process of coaching allows each one of us to transform ourselves, to take what works and highlight it, and then extend and explore what we want for our future, what we want for our vision, what we want for our lives. I started thinking Caravel Coaching, this is it, the metaphor is perfect. The alliteration is perfect. It references the sea and the ocean. I'm going with it. 

So in June 2016, I filed my Articles of Incorporation, and Caravel Coaching was born. I got beautiful business cards and I got the domain name caravelcoaching.com, I did everything you were supposed to do once you had your business name. And then it was time for me to start creating some coaching packages, because that's what I was taught to do in my coach training program. 

I was taught to have three packages, and each one would build on the next, and you wanted three because sales psychology says that most people are probably going to choose the middle package. All of this I talked about in greater depth in Episode Six of the Coach with Carlity podcast, where we explored creating your coaching offer. It's all stuff that I generally recommend not doing, at least not at first. But again, I was brand new to business and I was going based off of what other people taught me. 

So I created three coaching packages, and then I was coming up with really cute names for each package. So my initial package was the “Chart Your Course” package and really focused on kind of coming up with your initial plan. Charting Your Course – again, very nautical and keeping with Caravel Coaching. I think my second package was something to do with Setting Sail. I think another one was about Using your Compass. I don't even remember what the names were anymore, and that should be a red flag. But I knew that each one of those packages had something to do with sailing or the ocean or with nautical navigation, because again, this was going to be themed with Caravel Coaching. 

So here it is, it's now probably July of 2016. I have Caravel Coaching, I have all of these packages, and I am ready to go out and introduce myself and my business to the world. And here's what I discovered. First, no one knew what a Caravel was. Two, no one cared what a Caravel was. And three, no one understood what I was offering based on the names of my packages. 

So this brings me to the three critical errors that I made when naming my business and then naming my packages. And I'm going to walk you through step by step each one of those three errors, and I'm going to suggest what you might want to do instead so that you don't repeat the errors that I made early on in my business. 

Error number one was that I chose something that held meaning to me, but did not necessarily hold any sort of meaning for my clients. Caravel Coaching was completely a nod to my roots and the importance that sailing and boating and the ocean and the water have held in my life. And there's nothing wrong with infusing what matters to you and your business. In fact, you should do that. 

But when that becomes the only thing that you are basing your decisions on, and you're not bringing your clients into the equation, well, that's where it becomes problematic – and that's exactly what I did. I didn't even realize I was doing it, and in fact, I tried to justify that it was the right choice by creating this beautiful metaphor to explain why it was so perfect for coaching. But all that meant was that then every time I talked about Caravel Coaching, and people were like, oh, I've never heard of that before. What does it mean? I would then have to go into this long description of what a Caravel was, and what it was originally intended to do and how it transformed and how that's the perfect metaphor for coaching etc, etc. 

And here's the thing – when you are spending more time explaining your business name than you are talking about what you do, then you have a problem. And that was absolutely the case for me with Caravel Coaching. I knew what it was, it was important to me, it made sense to me, I understood the meaning. But if you were an ideal client of mine, and you went to my website, you would have no idea what a Caravel was, or why it mattered. There's nothing about that name that would draw you into my business and inspire you to work with me. 

So that's error number one is anchoring. Haha anchor, another little nautical pun. But truly, when you anchor your business name in something that is important to you and ONLY you, then we have a problem. 

So the solution to this error is to talk to your ideal clients. Listen to them, get into their worlds, explore what it is they want in their lives, what it is they expect from coaching, the change that they want to achieve. And not only are you listening to what they are saying, because that's absolutely going to inform what you offer (and again, go back to Episode Six of this podcast to learn more about that process), but you are also listening to the words they use, and that language is so important. It will inform how you speak to your clients, how you frame your work and your offers. Again, it's like you are learning a second language and it's their language. 

So when you can use those words and incorporate them into your website copy, your marketing materials, and yes, your business name, then your ideal clients will immediately feel like you get them, you understand them, you are talking to them because you are using their language. 

So before you go about naming your business, I strongly encourage you to have conversations with people who hold some of the qualities or traits of your ideal client. They don't necessarily have to be people that you would ever work with. So for example, if you have a family member or a friend, and your relationship is a little too close for you to want to serve them as a coach, and yet they still represent someone that you might want to work with, then they are the perfect person to have this kind of conversation with, listen very closely to the language and their word choice. And as you hold several of these conversations, notice what words come up most frequently, what themes are articulated because that is where you will find a treasure trove of information to support you as you are naming your business and your offers. 

I learned a lesson from error number one, choosing something that had meaning only to me, when I realized that Caravel Coaching wasn't really representing me, nor was it representing the kind of coaching work I wanted to do. When I went back to all of the information I had received from potential clients from existing clients for the people I most wanted to work with, I heard one word more often than any other word. In every single interview or every single coaching session I did. And that word was clarity. 

Every single one of my clients talked about wanting to feel a greater sense of clarity around their business, around their purpose, and in their lives. Clarity was the word I kept circling over and over again in notes that I would take or in transcripts that I would listen to. That word clearly meant a lot to the people I most wanted to serve, so it made sense then that it should be a part of my business and brand identity. 

Initially, I used the word clarity in a tool kit that I created, a system of templates and guides that I was providing to my coaching clients as a part of their coaching package. And then eventually, I made it available as a standalone offer for people, but it was the Coach with Clarity tool kit, that's all it was. And then Coach with Clarity started to take on a life of its own. It's almost as if it said, “Hey, this Coach with Clarity thing, pay attention to me, because this is the core of what your people want. They want to become coaches and they want greater clarity. Why are you not leading with this?” 

And it was about a year ago or so that I realized Coach with Clarity wants to be more than a tool kit. It wanted to be a membership, and now it is a membership. And then it was like “It's more than just a membership, Lee – Coach with Clarity is your brand. It is your business.” And I knew that because I had all of the data from my client base saying this is what we want. 

So it made natural sense for me to position myself not as Caravel Coaching, but as Coach with Clarity. It still held meaning for me, but I was also using language that really resonated with my clients. So I corrected my own error, I learned from my mistakes, and adopted Coach with Clarity as my main brand identifier. That's why this is the Coach with Clarity podcast. That's why I offer the Coach with Clarity membership and in the future, I will be having new offerings under the Coach with Clarity umbrella. 

So error number one is to choose a name that holds meaning for you, but that has little to no meaning for your clients or simply doesn't make sense. Don't do what I did four years ago, do what I did last year when I pivoted into Coach with Clarity, because again, that speaks to my clients desires while using the very language they use too. 

Now let's talk about error number two that I experienced when I initially named my business. Error number two is that I went for cute and clever, over clear and concise. So in choosing Caravel, I went for clever, I looked at this metaphor of exploration and transformation and decided that it was so smart and such a great way to represent what coaching was about that that was going to be the best way to represent my business. 

And then from there, I came up with super cute names for all of my coaching offers, and they were all nautically themed. And isn't this funny? Because Caravel is a boat, and maybe nobody knows that, but I do and so all of my offers are going to be nautically themed. Isn't this cute? Isn't this clever? Well, it may have been cute and yes, maybe it was clever. But it was also incredibly confusing. 

Because think about it, would I really go up to someone and say, Oh, you want my “Chart Your Course” package, or you want the “Align your Compass” package, or whatever it was? No, because that does not tell you anything about what I'm offering. So I let being cute and clever, take the lead, instead of being very clear and concise about what it was I was offering. 

And I'll be honest with you, the minute I stripped my packages ofthose cute titles, and simply called them the three-month package and the six-month package, I saw more sales. Yes, it was boring. It wasn't cute. But it was much more effective, because it clearly communicated to the client, what it was, which was coaching, and how long it would last three months, six months or 12 months. The minute I released the cute titles and went towards simplicity, I had much more success. 

So if error number two is going for cute and clever over clear and concise, then the solution should be pretty obvious. I want you to focus more on what you provide and the results your client can expect, and let that inform what you name your packages, rather than some cute motif or clever metaphor. Ask yourself, would someone know what I'm offering based solely on what I've named it? If someone were to tell you, would you like the “Chart Your Course” package or would you like the “Align your Compass” package, you as a client would be left scratching your head going, “I have no idea because I don't know what those are.” 

Whereas if you were to say, “Would you like the three month kickstart package? Or would you be more interested in the six month comprehensive package?” Well, now the client has a little more information just in the name in order to make a decision. They're still probably going to want to know a little more about what differentiates the two packages besides just time, and that's where you engage them in a conversation. 

But we do not want our potential client feeling confused. People do not commit when they are feeling confused. So the more that we can provide a clear process and a clear explanation, and yes, a clear name for what it is we're providing, the more likely it is that that potential client may become a committed client. So the solution to error number two is to let go of cute and clever and go for clear and concise. I know it may not be as fun and it may not be as pretty but it will be much more effective. 

So this leads me to error number three, and that is… I wasn't really thinking about the big picture. When I was coming up with the name of my business, Caravel Coaching, I was very much focused on the here and now and on me in this moment. I wasn't really thinking about where could I be in five years or even 10 years, what kind of business do I want to have, and what type of brand identity do I want associated with the work that I do. 

Caravel Coaching, it's an alliterative, beautiful sounding name, but again, it doesn't tell you a whole lot about who I am or what I stand for, versus Coach with Clarity. That definitely tells you who I am and what's possible. You will become a Coach with Clarity, you will Coach with Clarity, and there is a feeling of grounded intentionality to that name. Had I thought about that from the beginning, I might have chosen a name that would have allowed me more opportunity for expansion and growth than care about coaching. 

And this is tricky, because when you are first starting your business, you don't know what you don't know. I certainly didn't, I didn't know enough to be thinking in those terms. Now I do and so I'm able to make decisions and pivot accordingly. And that's why I'm sharing my experience with you. Because if you can hear this now and think to yourself, okay, I need to think long term, I need to think about three 5, 10 years down the road, what I want to be possible in my business, and then ask yourself, does this business name support that, then you are already miles ahead of where I was when I first started out. 

So the solution to error number three is to think about what you want to be known for, and what qualities or attributes you want to be associated with your business and with your brand. So when it comes to choosing a name, you can ensure that that name represents those qualities that you want to be known for. Again, allow yourself to dream. Allow yourself to think big, and to think about what's possible, step into that future, and allow what is possible to inform the name of your business and what you offer. 

Now, for those of you who have already named your business, and you are sitting there wondering, Oh, did I make a mistake? You've heard some of these errors and you thought, that's exactly what I did. What do I do now? Well, I'm evidence that it is possible to make a change in your business, even your business name and come out stronger for it. 

In my case, I had an LLC called Caravel Coaching, LLC, and I still have that as my official business entity name. But then I was able to file an assumed name, or “Doing Business As” Coach with Clarity. And that's how my business is currently structured. My LLC is still Caravel Coaching, and that's fine. That may be the name of my LLC for the rest of my business experience. But my public facing name, my “doing business as” or DBA name is Coach with Clarity. 

I was then able to do a rebrand and create a new brand identity, new logos, new website, for Coach with Clarity, and really position myself now as Coach with Clarity. Now I'm still in the process of doing that. I still have my old website, caravelcoaching.com, up and running. And I'm still working on figuring out how I can transfer some of the content and some of the audience from that website over into Coach with Clarity. 

This is a process, so If you decide to change your name, the way I did understand that, yes, there will be a process behind bringing people over and stepping forth into your new brand identity. But it's not impossible, it can be done. And actually, once you step into that name that better suits your clients and better suits your business, it's going to allow for such growth and you'll be connecting with new clients that really connect with your messaging, and it makes the transfer process totally worth it. 

So if you're sitting there, and you're having the same experience I had about 18 months ago, thinking, this name is really not working for me or for my business anymore, it's okay. All is not lost. It is possible to rebrand and even change your business name midstream without losing everything. I'm definitely evidence of that. 

So we've just gone over the three errors that I made when naming my business and I've given you some solutions for each one. Error number one is choosing something that holds meaning for you, but not your clients. Error number two is going for cute and clever over clear and concise. And error number three is not thinking big picture. So to correct those errors, you want to talk to your ideal clients, and let their experiences inform your decisions around naming your business. You want to focus on the results that your clients can expect, and allow that to inform the name of your business and your offers. And finally, you want to give yourself permission to really step into what's possible in your future, and let that inform your brand identity and your business name. 

So now I think it's time that we move into this week's Clarity in Action moment. This week's Clarity in Action moment is brought to you by my Business Basics for Coaches workshop. I work with a lot of new and up and coming people coaches who are so passionate about supporting their ideal clients through coaching. But when it comes to getting their business off the ground, they feel a little uncertain. 

That's why I have created the Business Basics for Coaches workshop. It is a three-part live workshop that walks you through the who, what and how of your audience, getting really clear on who you serve, what they need, and how you are going to address that need. Then we move into creating a business plan so that you can anchor your business decisions in a solid internal document that will guide you every step of the way. And then we wrap up with a deep dive into what I call the marketing model. So it is a model that you can use to create an intentional marketing strategy that plays to your strengths, honors your priorities, and actually feels good while you're implementing it. 

So this is a three-part live workshop that I will be running this month, so to learn more, head over to https://www.coachwithclarity.com/bbworkshop, and you'll get all of the information about dates and how to register there, and I would love to welcome you into the next round of the workshop. 

So this week, your Clarity in Action moment is to get really clear on the words you want associated with your business. This might look like brainstorming a list of words that embody who you are and the type of coaching you provide. It definitely should involve connecting with your ideal clients or with your current clients and learning more from them what they want from coaching, and what they expect when they coach with you. This is where you're going to start pulling out the language that you can use to inform the name of your business. 

I also want you to do a little visioning work to imagine yourself three, five years, even 10 years down the road. You have this extraordinarily successful coaching business, you're living out every single one of your business goals, I want you to think about what that looks like, what type of work you would be doing, what type of offers, you would be making available, and allow that spirit to guide you in the name of your business as well. 

So we want to blend the words that are important to us, the words that are important to our clients, and the words that are evoked from our big picture vision, and let all of that come together and serve as inspiration for your business name. 

And remember, even though I have gone over the three errors that I made in naming my business, I don't believe in mistakes. There was a reason I named my business Caravel Coaching. There was a reason I transitioned into Coach with Clarity later. Everything is part of the process, and I suspect that part of the reason was that I could show up today and guide you through the process of naming your business and using my own experiences as a way for you to have greater clarity and feel more confident moving forward in your business as well. 

I so hope you have found today's episode helpful. And I would love to know what is the name of your coaching business. So come find me over at Instagram, I'm @coachwithclarity. You can also head over to the Coach with Clarity podcast Facebook group by going to https://www.coachwithclarity.com/facebookgroup, and let me know what your key takeaways were from today's episode and what you've decided to name your coaching business. I can't wait to hear about it. 

Thank you again for joining me this week. I will be back in your podcast feed with a new episode next week. But until that time, this is Lee Chaix McDonough, reminding you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.

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