Exercise: Business Name

If you've made it this far congratulations. Seriously! So many people I know decide they want to head out on their own but when their dreams are pushed into reality it becomes less fun and a bit of a toil. This is OK.

I've dreamed of running a marathon someday but when I put in the work (running) I immediately decide it's pointless and stupid. I get it, I promise.


How are you feeling right now? Anxious? Excited? Ovewhelmed? All of these are OK to feel and you'll keep feeling them as this process goes on. In fact none of it will go away until a year or so after you see that you can, indeed, make money on your own.

A lot of people don't believe that. The trick is to make yourself believe that about you. So, deep breath and let's pick a business name.


You have to have a domain if you plan on creating a business. Don't spend a ton of time on this. Execute and make it happen, you can change your mind later on. Right now you need to feel the surge you get when you execute, not waiver and prevaricate over every small decision. You won't get to where you want to go if you keep noodling on it so stop that process cold by doing.

So, tell me:

  1. Where's your favorite place in the world, and what word would describe that? Think of street names, place names, businesses and Write it down.
  2. Who's your favorite actor and what did you find inspiring about their role? Write it down.
  3. One of your best friends just threw you a surprise birthday party and a load of people showed up - some you know, some you don't. They're all looking at you with a smile on their face, thinking... what? Write it down.

All of these can be as fun/silly/serious as you want. It's up to you what you want to convey but don't overthink it.

I Can't Think of Anything

Yeah this has happened to me too, so let me share with you how I came up with the names of my last businesses (Red:4 Aerospace and Big Machine).


I had just created a video for Elixir that I thought would do pretty well and the projection was enough that my accountant (who's also a friend) told me I should probably create a business before I sell anything. He charged me some money and was about to set it up when he said "give me 3 business names, ordered by preference".

I had no idea. It had been years since I had to think of any of this. At that very moment people were tweeting about Space-X and the Falcon Heavy rockets and I was like "damn I wish I could work there because that would be FUN" and it kind of hit me all of a sudden... space... rockets... why not....

I knew I wanted the name "Aerospace" in the name because it sounded retro and fun. I chose "Red:4" because The Martian was the big movie at the time and I remember thinking about Red Mars and Mars being the 4th planet from the sun.

Thus was born my company: Red:4 Aerospace. I don't strictly write code for rockets and so on, but who knows?

Big Machine

This one was a bit more ... lazy I guess? I needed a company name that sounded like "I'll get this done for you", which is a thing I had issues with in the past regarding the company name. I joined my buddy doing consulting work in the late 1990s and he came into the office one day and announced that he had registered "Persistent, Inc" as our company and domain. He was the CEO so I guess that was OK but... the name was... well...

Let's put it this way: one of my clients asked (cheekily) one day if our name indicated that we'd keep trying until we got it right. Yeah... not a good thing. Everyone asked how to spell it!

So I wanted a name for my new company that would be easy to hear and easier to say. I thought of the essence of what I was trying to do and I said "I want to write code like some kind of ... big machine" and there it was.

Pick Something, Let's Register It

This might take you a few minutes, so come up with 5 names and see how they feel. Shoot for easy to spell and easy to say because next we need to register that name.
I got lucky with Big Machine and Red:4 - both of the ".io" TLDs were available - but these days there are so many TLDs that it really shouldn't matter.

Head over to Google Domains and start looking. Check TLDs like ".io" and ".dev", the latter being really popular with solo contractors out there. If you plan on staying solo that's fine - but I would urge you to think about more options that could come your way... like creating some kind of app that you might want to sell.

Street names, place names, fictional characters - just pick something and let's MOVE. We have a lot of work to do and you really can't get much worse than the name Google, and look how that turned out!