How to Name Your Startup

“It is a pretty recognizable brand name. Originally it was ‘Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web’ but we settled on ‘Yahoo.’” -Jerry Yang, Yahoo founder

It is no secret at this point that I love being an entrepreneur, and it’s a profession that I would recommend to virtually anyone. At the first mention of job-related trouble, the de facto advice I’ll dispense is to quit your job: burn the bridge behind you and don’t look back. I’ve given away more copies of The 4-Hour Workweek than I can count.

I am often asked, “what is the hardest part of starting a business?”

Like most things in life, the process of starting a business seems impossibly complex until you actually begin to undertake it – what appears from afar to be a mysterious black art becomes fairly simple and straightforward upon closer examination.

With my companies, I have negotiated distribution deals with Amazon.com, manufactured life-or-death components for 200 mph race cars in China, and managed 1,650+ different SKUs – without any full-time employees or a background in engineering, and all while living in South America for a six month stretch…without a cell phone.

Having said that, I can tell you – without hesitation – that the hardest part of starting a business is naming it. And, thanks to a booming startup market and the shrinking availability of .com domains, it is getting harder every day.

But fear not, my friends – while the proliferation of tech startups has certainly dwindled the supply of available .coms, it has also given birth to a series of fantastic tools and resources for solving this frustrating problem.

Below, we’ll go over some rules of naming, and subsequently I’ll divulge my heretofore secret arsenal that will turn you into a dark wizard in the mysterious and elusive art of startup naming.

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Investing in Loss

The view of Pike’s Peak from the top of the climb. Credit: Jordan Hayes

My forearms are burning. I open and close my hands a few times, observing the frustrating sensation of having them respond at about half the speed that I’m requesting of them. Over my left shoulder is a spectacular view of Pike’s Peak, far below me a group of climbers – some onlookers, some stealing a moment of shelter in the shade – but the view that’s really capturing my attention is the rock formation six inches in front of my face.

My right hand – and by hand, I mean some portion of a few of my fingers – is gripping onto a rock just barely within my reach. My feet are resting on a natural shelf cut into the mountain, the route above me jutting out towards my torso, pushing me into a backwards-leaning posture that feels, well, about as unnatural as leaning backwards off the edge of a cliff.

It’s my first time sport climbing.

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10 Killer Negotiating Tactics (or, how I got $125,000 for nothing)

A nice bonus.

I once was contacted by a multibillion dollar, publicly traded German company that wanted to use one of our trademarks for their new line of products.

I asked them how much they were willing to offer in exchange for a licensing agreement. In their response below, you’ll see them inform me that company policy prohibits them from compensating me for it, but they’d be happy to cover reasonable legal fees.

Translation: they wanted to use my trademark and they were offering me absolutely nothing in return.

It was a starting point. Continue reading

Want To Live A Happy, Healthy Life? Fire Your Boss

People tell me time and time again that they want to quit their job, but entrepreneurship is just too risky. Here’s a few facts I’ve collected that show you that staying in the cubicle farm is more detrimental than you may think.

1. Your boss is slowly killing you.

According to a study of 3,000 Swedish workers, workers who rated their managers most incompetent had a nearly 25% higher risk of developing serious heart problems (the gluttons for punishment who stayed four years or longer increased that risk to 39%).

I personally believe that bosses should be subject to the same labeling regulations as cigarettes: 25% of their viewable surface area should display a warning from the Surgeon General.

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How To Make $7 Million: Ignore Your Critics

The $7,000,000 watch

If you follow any sort of tech news, I’m sure you’ve heard about Pebble – the runaway Kickstarter success story that has sold over $7 million worth of watches virtually overnight.

The project was launched by a 25 year old guy and a couple friends. As with many success stories, they turned to Kickstarter as a last resort after being turned down by a number of (regretful) venture capitalists.

I was reading a New York Times article today and it quoted one of their critics, Robert Fabricant – the VP of some big-time development firm – “casting doubt” on their success:

“Mr. Fabricant, like others in his field, cast some doubt on the notion that it was possible to sidestep the traditional routes to building a business, particularly through a service like Kickstarter. They say young, inexperienced business people need advisers, mentors and a network of support to help them deal with the problems that can emerge.”

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How to Apply Business Principles for a Better Personal Life

We’ve all heard stories about the workaholic corporate-type with no personal life, or the driven entrepreneur with a singular focus on business. But in reality, there’s a lot we can learn from the business world – ideas, practices, and philosophies that can be applied to lead an easier, more fulfilling, and more productive life.

I have a few favorites that I’ve raided from my entrepreneurial war chest and implemented successfully in my day-to-day routine. Follow along as we transform boring corporate jargon into Zen-like awesomeness.

Businessman meditating

Today, we're going to breathe some new life into stuffy business concepts.

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Are you happy? (My year in review)

For me, New Years Eve was never so much about resolutions as it was about drinking champagne. Sure, on December 31st I can’t help but think back nostalgically on the year that has passed, but I have always felt that the holiday was too public a time to really reflect. Besides, champagne has a way of…uh, narrowing your focus down to the moment at hand, rather than looking at the big picture. Continue reading