What’s in a name? Naming my baby and my business.


Names are strange. We just give stuff names; we decide this name suits this thing, person, or business, and we go for it. Most people I know couldn’t be named anything else. I could not imagine being called Cliona, which I was very nearly called. Your name is your identity. Business names are like a person’s name, can you imagine Google being anything other than Google? Well, it was, it was founded as ‘Backrub’ in 1996. Yes, BackRub….go backrub (google) it for yourself, it’s true.

I have had the challenge and honour of naming my baby and my business in recent years.

The challenge:

Must be a mutual agreement

First of all, the names that you had imagined calling your children may be met with tuts or even laughter. Be prepared. Your partner and you need to agree on a name, and if you are anything like us, you tend to have different tastes in most things. Having varied tastes often works well within a relationship, but when you must agree on a tiny human’s name it may lead to all out war. It didn’t in our case because we came to a lovely little compromise – Rosie. Her full name is her dad’s favourite while the shortened version happens to be a name I imagined I would call my daughter. If however we had had a boy, then this blog post would be a whole other animal.

Naming your business is similar, if you have a partner, you must come to an agreement. However naming my personalised book business Writing for Tiny was different, as I did it on my own. At the time, I had no one to answer to, to discuss it with. I started a little website, and I wrote the title I thought best described what the business does. I had other names I played around with, most of them centered around ‘Lady Tiny’, but Writing for Tiny felt right and I believed in it. We write books for your tiny people. I’ve never looked back.

Like my baby, I couldn’t imagine my business being called anything else. If somebody ever suggested I change it, I would say no. It would be the single piece of advice I wouldn’t even consider taking. I listen to and digest all of the feedback from my advisers and other people who say things for no reason, but I would shut down on this one. Luckily everyone seems to love the name, and it’s here to stay.

Pressure from the outside

Mick and I didn’t officially know we were having a girl until she was born. I say officially because I knew she was a girl instinctively, Mick had his doubts but I just knew. This affected our baby naming in that I never worried too much about boys’ names. In fact, I think I had two on the list, but only one I really considered. Mick and I often tested the potential names out on our families and friends; I will never do that again. What I learned is this; no matter what you choose people are going to have preconceived notions, they may have had a school mate that bullied them with the name, or it may be an evil character’s name in a book. Whatever the reason, it’s their issue. Your baby’s personality will soon flourish, and the name will mean something else entirely to them. Follow your instinct.

There are lots of opinions in the start-up circuit about how to name your business. One article contradicts the next. There is no exact science. I have taken part in two business incubators, Trinity College Dublin’s Launchbox and I’m currently in Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers. I have seen businesses stress over their name, identity and branding only for someone to come along and undo their work because it’s already a name in China, their message is confused, or they see something everyone else missed.

I would say, like with naming your baby, just follow your instinct. If you, as a founder are proud of your business name and it means something to you, stick with it (unless of course it’s taken). It is your business, your ‘baby’, your name.

Honour the name

Do you remember the first name you were allowed to choose? I remember naming my first guinea pig. It felt so meaningful and even if I was eight-years-old, I felt like a mum. She was called Nick Nack and it filled me with pride. Writing for Tiny has gone from strength-to-strength, I write this as we are about to launch our first hard-backed books. The name has remained the same throughout all of its development. It has kept its meaning and its message. No matter how big it gets it will always have been named by me, and like a mum with a child, I want my business to grow up, to become independent. I have given it its roots and its wings, and it will always be Writing for Tiny.

My baby will grow up too. Despite being quite set on her name we did ‘shop’ around. The search terms I used on the baby names websites were ‘old lady names’ ‘traditional names’ or ‘classic names’. Some of the potential names on the list were a little too ‘out there’, but I blame the hormones for that. I showed very few people this list, which I made on my iPhone. The last entry was 11 November at 15:38. She was born at 23:06. The last name on the list was hers, the full name including surname. Like a love struck teenager I practiced her name with the surname of the main man in her life… in this case her dad. I have kept the list, and it’s now safely hand-written in a memory journal. One day she may look at it and ask why we didn’t go with one of the more ‘out there’ names, and I will tell her. The minute she was born she was Rosalie. There was no doubt in my mind or her Dad’s. The middle name was easy too – after my sister – she is the kind of sister that deserves to have a baby named after her. We named her Rosalie Clare Carter or Rosie for short.

Naming a baby and a business is both an honour and a challenge. If it feels right to you, then it is right. Good luck.