Choosing a business name and why it matters in tourism

So how do you set up your business name and what do you need to consider? 

Two of the first decisions business owners make is what is my business structure and what makes a good business name? You may start early with a name and play around with it for awhile, before you settle on it which is a good thing as there are some things you need to consider when it comes to names, language, being recalled and being found, search engine optimization and trade name conventions.

The basic steps to starting a business in Australia are: 

1. Decide your business structure 

Sole traders or companies are the two most common types. Sole traders are the simplest and cheapest type of micro, or small business and you can always change to a company later. Setting up a new company costs around $1200 plus extra accounting fees each year. Plus companies pay 25% tax on every dollar profit earnt, so sole trader may be the best option for starting out small as there is a tax free threshold on the first $18,000 you earn. You can always turn into a company later if you are growing fast and want to protect your assets like house, vehicles or personal wealth.

2. Choose a business name (and a domain name)

Before you fall in love with a name, think it through. Your business name should be something memorable, easy to pronounce, spell and therefore recall and rank in Google searches. The aim of marketing is to reduce barriers to being found by customers, and not be confused with another business with a similar name or product. Be prepared to adjust your name so you can stand out.  When you are looking for your ‘official’ business name, research what’s available at the Australian Securities Investment Corporation or ASIC. Then consider what you want to trade as, and make sure you add this to the ‘Trading As’ fields online wherever you can, to clear up any confusion behind the scenes in case someone challenges you for stealing intellectual property or their business name.

Before you lock in your name and register it with your ABN check if you can get a domain name matching your business name or trading name. If not, you may need to go back to the drawing board. See step 5 below.

3. Market test YOUR NAME

Do some research on your preferred markets, where they will be searching from, are they Australian or international? Do they know how to spell Bazza’s Okka Tours? (Do they even know what this means?!) Search names on Google to see what other businesses appear similar to your own ideas. You can still proceed with Bazza, but be wary that some of your customers may struggle to find you. How will you outrank similar sounding companies? While it's noble to incorporate non-English or Indigenous naming conventions, research by Indigenous Business Australia showed that when consumers searched for Indigenous named tourism companies they couldn’t recall the name correctly, or misspelt it, and eventually gave up, or booked something else. It doesn’t mean don’t use your traditional language, but it is a hard lesson between being politically correct, or even just authentic, and being found and booked, sooner.

In a mass consumer market being found, recalled and remembered is important, whatever you decide to call yourself. A good search engine optimization strategy can overcome this barrier.

4. Get an Australian Business Number (ABN)

Now you have your name and structure sorted, it's time to get your ABN. ABNs are a free and mandatory 11 digit number that identifies your business as legitimate to the Australian community and government, especially for tax purposes. You can register your business name online at the Australian Business Registrar (Applying for an ABN | ABR). In future you can manage your details, GST status, contact details and trading names in the Australian Securities and Investment Commission or ASIC portal. This is where you pay for your business name registration every couple of years.

5. Secure a URL using your business name 

Now you have a business name, it’s time to secure your URL (domain name, or website address) using it. 

Your website is – or will become - a major business asset in regional tourism, when you are a long way from markets who are searching for you.  Get your peace of mind by securing a domain name (DNS) early and independently of a website designer so you retain control of it through the life of your business, as you will probably change web designers at some stage, and it will be easier if you have the DNS details at hand. Also you can learn how to set up new email addresses on the DNS portal and it's often more cost effective to self-manage.

If you build your own site you can usually purchase a ‘domain’ within that software program like Squarespace or Wix, and your URL might end in .net Alternatively, if you just want to secure a domain name aligned to your business name without yet building a site you can buy a domain outright (DNS) from places like Crazy Domains, Go Daddy, Blue Host or HostPapa and self manage your details. I recommend this even though it’s a little technically challenging, it means you retain control of your digital business assets. You can expect to pay around $150 every couple of years to your DNS provider to retain your rights to your domain name which is now part of your intellectual and brand property. 

Buy your copy of Booked Out! How to Start and Grow a Successful Regional Tourism Business here.

Contact us, call Susan Lee

0466 090 600