What happens when someone else owns my .com?

After days of brainstorming, you finally come up with the perfect business name.

You check for trademarks.

All clear. 

You check to make sure the name was available with your state.

All clear.

You type it into GoDaddy to buy the domain name.

Not available. 

You have a sinking feeling in your stomach and you're pissed some other jerk stole your name. 

There are a few steps you can take before you start the name search all over again. 

1. Check to see if someone is actually using the domain. A.k.a type it in the URL bar and see if something comes up. If it's in use, you probably should pick a new name (see this post on picking a name that doesn't suck). If it's not in use, proceed to step 2. 

2. Check to see who owns it. Use GoDaddy WhoIS to find the owner and their contact information. 

 You have two options here - Try to get it yourself or hire a domain broker who gets paid off a commission to handle the process for you. Typically you'd pay them a flat rate, you'd give them a budget, and if they could negotiate within that budget then you would pay them a commission (usually around 20%). The broker would take care of the entire domain transfer to make it painless for you. There are tons of reputable options. You can find one with just a simple Google search

3. If you prefer the DIY approach, then go ahead and attempt to contact the owner. Let them know you're interested in buying their domain if they are willing to let it go. See Step 5 for negotiation tactics. You can run an appraisal of the domain name based on comps. Don't get discouraged by the number, many people holding domains don't know how much they are worth. 

4. Start negotiating. Set a budget first so you know what you're willing to pay. Don't tell them what your budget is. It's always better to ask what they would consider letting it go for instead of naming a price first. That's my only negotiation tactic. 

5. Once a price is agreed on - pay for and transfer ownership. 

 Use a third party for this. 

Use a third party for this.

  Use a third party for this.  

My favorite is Escrow.com. They hold the money until the name is accepted and confirmed in the buyer's account, and then clear funds for the seller prior to authorizing the movement of the domain to the buyer. 

6. Voila. Congrats on your new baby. You're ready to hire a web designer. 

Pick a name that doesn't suck.

Picking a name for your new or re-branded business can truly be the most frustrating part of the entire start-up process. Many entrepreneurs turn to friends and family for name ideas and to provide feedback, but it can get complicated when everyone has a different opinion. Many times, the easy way out becomes naming the business after yourself.  

But when is naming your company after yourself a bad idea?

The number one reason - it’s limiting. When first starting, most small business owners don’t know where the company will go or what the best business model may be. So much of business development happens by trial and error, that it is usually a good idea to leave your options as open as possible, and that comes down to using a name that could provide more flexibility in the future.

Another consideration - if you plan on expanding, and/or there’s a possibility of selling your company down the road, it may be a good idea to skip using your name. As you grow, “me” becomes “we”. It’s easy when first starting out to think small. Entrepreneurs constantly undermine their own growth potential by not thinking years into the future. Envision your company’s trajectory over the next five to ten years, and then decide whether or not your name would still be as good of a fit.


Most importantly, when your brand is your name, people expect you to be the brand 24/7.


For some entrepreneurs, this makes complete sense. When your company and brand is based on your own individual talents or original ideas, you become the product. However, for some, the pressure to always be “on” is mentally exhausting.

Ultimately, if your business is one person (you), and you’re providing a product that is specific to you or is a service that only you perform, then naming the business after yourself isn’t typically a bad idea.  However, if your company brand requires you to project a commercial image, or you have a vision for growth that goes farther than employing just yourself, you should consider options that don’t involve your name.

Need some help building a perfect brand? I can help