Try to avoid having a what's-its-name

I WAS wondering how to decide on a name for my business. People talk about the importance of branding and market research but is it really all that complicated? Why did you choose Yellow Brick Road? Do you have any advice on how to choose the best name?

I WAS wondering how to decide on a name for my business. People talk about the importance of branding and market research but is it really all that complicated? Why did you choose Yellow Brick Road? Do you have any advice on how to choose the best name?

IT'S simple. Give your business a name that people will remember and don't be too concerned with what the rest of the world thinks. You can't please everyone, so don't concentrate on what's going to get you the tick of approval from your friends and family. It doesn't matter if people love the name - it's actually better to have 50 per cent who like it and 50 per cent who hate it, so long as they remember it the next day.

Virgin is a great example. Most people hated it when it first launched and now it's a household name. It was provocative and it stood out, and your business name should do the same. Concentrate on what will stick with your target audience because what really counts is that your company name becomes synonymous with the product or service you're offering.

We have a lot to remember day-to-day and we forget most of what we hear. So a business name has to be relevant and it should invoke a feeling of familiarity. That's why I chose Wizard and Yellow Brick Road. Those names conjure up emotion and give people a sense of comfort. Strong letters and words are important and I've always found that hard consonants like R, V and Z stick in my mind.

I've never been a big a fan of using surnames, unless they are short, sharp and have relevance. Trump is a good example because it has so many strong connotations, and those connotations reflect him as a person and his businesses. Otherwise, I'd stay away from using a surname unless you can properly leverage it.

I'M PART of a small-business coalition and one question always comes up in our group. How do you find the right people to work for you and how do you retain good staff? I know a lot of people who run small businesses and they seem to have trouble finding dedicated people. What are your tips for getting the best employees possible?

WHEN hiring staff you want to look for people who are resilient and who don't mind being challenged. You want people who aren't afraid to be asked tough questions and are prepared to answer them.

I find that the best employees always want to be better.

Finding someone who is the best is great, but I tend to look for people who are at 70 per cent of their capacity. You want to hire a person, not a CV, and a piece of paper is never a true reflection of the real person and their true capabilities.

In business, and especially in small business, you need people who are going to fight for you and will jump in the trenches when things get tough. Small business is a street fight and you need people in your corner who are loyal and not afraid to get dirty.

Skills are important, but you really need to look for an employee who is dynamic and can evolve with your business as it grows and changes.

One last thing, don't underestimate the power of a three-month trial. People always want to put their best foot forward, but as a business owner you need to protect yourself and make sure you're doing the best for your business and your future.

Mark Bouris is executive chairman of Yellow Brick Road, a wealth management company and small business adviser offering products and services for home loans, financial planning, insurance, superannuation, investments, accounting and tax through www.ybr.com.au.

If you have a question for Mark Bouris, email it to the MySmallBusiness editor, Larissa Ham, at lham@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

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