Ep. # 73: Indulgent Business Names

Indulgent names for your business or products serve you and not your customers. Listen to this episode to learn three ways to spot an indulgent business name, and how it can hurt your business.


Welcome to Rich & Thin™ Radio, the only podcast that helps you earn more and weigh less. I’m Kelly Hollingsworth and I’m happy you’re here because today I want to discuss indulgent business names–what they are, how to spot them, and how they undermine your profitability, and I’m also going to make an announcement related to a bit of indulgence that’s going on in this show, and what I’m going to do about it.

First, let’s define our terms. What do I mean by an indulgent business name? You may have heard the term “indulgent writing” at some point in your life. When we’re talking about indulgent writing, we’re talking about writing that pleases the writer, but doesn’t serve the reader.

And the exact same thing can be said about an indulgent business name. It’s a name that serves the business owner, but not the customers.

How to Tell if You Have an Indulgent Business Name

Anything in your business that serves you and not not your customers is an issue, so now let’s talk about how to spot if you have an indulgent business name.

You’re repeatedly asked to repeat the name

The first sign that you have an indulgent business name is that people are always asking you to repeat the name. If you say the name of your business, or the name of your program or product—those can have indulgent names, too–and people look at you with quizzical expressions and you have to say it again, you have an indulgent name.

When does this come up? Often it’s when you’ve invented a word. I don’t want to throw anyone’s business under the bus, so I’m going to give you an example that I saw regarding the name of a little girl I met recently. I don’t think she’s a listener of this show, so I don’t think I’ll hurt her feelings.

I asked her what her name was, and she said, “Abcde.” Initially I was thinking the name must be spelled A-b-s-i-d-y, so I asked her how her name was spelled because I was a spelling bee champion way back in the day and I still like to win at spelling. I’m almost never wrong. But in this case I lost, because she told me her name was spelled, “A-b-c-d-e.” I’m serious as a heart attack. A-B-C-D-E,  and to this all I can say is that if your child is named Abcde, that name is an indulgence because it is not about your child and the moniker she carries through the world. That name is not going to serve her success or her relationships or facilitate her introductions and grease the wheels for her as she goes through life. Every single time someone is introduced to Abcde, instead of the focus being on her and who she is, at least initially, eyebrows are going to go up and people are very reasonably going to wonder, what the heck were her parents thinking? They’re going to be thinking about the parents and why they gave their child that name. they’re not going to be thinking about the person who carries that name and their experiences in meeting that person.

And why is this is going to happen? Because when the parents of little Abcde named her Abcde, they weren’t thinking about their daughter and her experience of the name They were thinking about themselves, and what they thought was cool. What they thought was cute. What they thought was clever. That is the textbook definition of an indulgence, and for the child it’s a disaster. I guess I should say it’s going to be a life-long opportunity to manage her mind about what other people are thinking every time she says her name. Every time I say the name Abcde in my voice recognition software right now, the software types it as “absurdity.” According to a hilarious post on a site I found called vocative, there were 328 people named Abcde living in the United States of America in 2014, they’re citing the social security administration records, and they said at the end of the post, “We’d like to think at least one of these young women will one day get a little brother named Lmnop.”

The idea of that is hilarious, but it’s also a little bit horrifying. Very few of us would do something this indulgent and horrifying to our children in selecting their names, but this kind of thing is pretty common when we’re selecting the names for our businesses and our products. I see indulgent names a lot, so if you are a client of mine and I’ve talked with you about an indulgent business name recently, I am not talking about you specifically right now.

What I am talking about is the fairly common problem that if you do have an indulgent business or product name because you’ve made up a word, or you’ve done with a name that seems cute or clever or funny but that other people don’t understand, that’s a problem for your business because, just as people who meet little Abcde aren’t going to be thinking about her, they’re going to be wondering about her parents, if you have a name like this, the brains of your prospective customers, when they hear the name, are going to be diverted away from what you’re offering and into wondering, now what the heck does that mean?

And this is a problem for your business, because our brains are mono-taskers. If they’re thinking about why you decided to name your business THAT, they’re not opening up their minds to the problem that your business solves, and whether they need that problem solved in their own life. And if they’re not thinking about this, they won’t buy from you and they won’t get your solution and they won’t tell their friends. All of this negative domino effect can begin with a name.

You constantly have to spell the name

Another sign of an indulgent name is a weird spelling that you have to explain. Either you have to spell the name every time you mention your business, because you’ve invented a spelling, or you have to tell people how the name is pronounced because the spelling is non-standard.

For example, the other day I saw a woman named Michelle but spelled in a non-standard way introduce herself in an online forum. She couldn’t’ just say, “Hi, I’m Michelle.” It was, “Hi I’m Michelle, and she wrote her name the way her name is actually spelled, and then she put in parentheses (pronounced Michelle),” so everyone would know how to say her name, because the spelling wasn’t clear.

This is so rampant I can’t even tell you. Some of my oldest friends works in schools and this problem is rampant these days, and it happens with businesses and products as well. You look at the name and you don’t know how to say it, or you hear the name and you don’t know how to spell it.

With my hedge fund clients, they do this a lot, they always want to put the symbol for alpha in place of the As in their names. Why? Because alpha means skill. If the stock market goes up 20%, and all the hedge fund managers who buy stocks in their funds are up 20%, that’s not alpha. There is no skill involved. They’re just riding a wave. The presumption is that their funds are up just because the stock market is up. Anyone can do that.

The real genius is rare. If the stock market goes down 20% but a particular hedge fund manager who buys stocks is up 5%, that’s alpha. So alpha is the difference between, “a rising tide that raises all boats” and “all of the boats were sinking, except this one boat, because the captain was so skilled.“

Every fund manager wants to be that person, and so they want to put alphas in the names in place of As. That’s The business problem that comes from this is exactly what Michelle encounters when she enters an online forum. And do you really want that in your business? A constant need to explain something that doesn’t need to be explained, over and over again.

This kind of thing doesn’t serve anyone, and don’t even get me started on what you do about the domain name for a product like this. Money coaches do this, too. They often try to use the word cents c-e-n-t-s instead of sense s-e-n-s-e to be clever in their domain names, and that just means they are doomed for the rest of their lives to spelling that out every time they tell someone how to find them online.

So that’s another indicator of an indulgent name. If has a spelling that gives you an emotional charge on some level—the non-standard or sometimes non-sensical spelling seems fun or amusing or important in some way—but later it requires a lot of explanation and creates a lot of hassle, the name doesn’t serve the purpose. It’s an indulgent name that bogs everything down. If you do this in business, it bogs down your conversations and makes it difficult for customers to pronounce your name and find you online. If the spelling is so odd they look at it and they don’t know how to pronounce it, that certainly can’t help word-of-mouth.

You constantly have to explain the name

A third sign that you have an indulgent business or product name is that you constantly have to explain the name. And here I’m going to throw my own podcast—this podcast—a bit under the bus to illustrate what I mean by this point.

My podcast name isn’t entirely indulgent. For some people, it’s obvious what we do here—talk about the relationship between earning more and weighing less, and they’re in for all of it. No big surprise here, these folks are primarily weight loss coaches these days. Who, more than a weight-loss coach, would e interested in the relationship between those two things? It’s right up their alley.  Anyone else who owns a business or wants to own a business and wants to lose weight is listening, too.

But there are other listeners and other clients who’ve come to me through the podcast who who want and need my help, but they have no interest in weight loss, and they’re having to listen to my money-making advice on this show through a weight-loss lens that is of really no interest to them.

I’m doing two episodes almost every week, so housing them both in a single show is a bit of an indulgence on my part, and I feel the indulgence when I’m talking to the folks who aren’t interested in weight loss. What happens in those conversations is I have the perfect prospect in front of me. I can hear what their problems are, and I know I can help them, and then when I’m explaining who I am and what I do, if I mention the podcast, then I have to explain why it’s called Rich & Thin™ Radio, there’s a weight loss overlay to the whole thing because they’re all very related, and the whole thing turns into a bit of a mess, because they’re not interested in the weight loss piece.

This is another way to recognize an indulgence. An indulgence means clients, maybe not all of them, but some of them, are coming to you in spite of the way your message is currently structured, not because of it, and there’s a bit of that going on with these clients. They like the show and they think it’s well done, but the general idea is, tone from them has been, “I know you know a lot about money and investing and business, and I know you can help me level up my earnings and my profitability, I don’t know what you’re doing with that weight loss thing over there, but I need help with my business so let’s do this.”

How does this affect this show and my business? Well, whenever you have an indulgence, whether it’s a weird name or a nonsensical name or a hard-to-pronounce name, you miss out on word-of-mouth buzz. Are serious entrepreneurs who like my business advice and listening to this show telling other serious entrepreneurs about my show? Probably not as much as they would if the show had a different name, or they had a different vehicle that didn’t have the weight-loss piece attached to it, where they receive the advice.

So here’s what I’m doing about this. Rich & Thin™ Radio is going to focus exclusively on the relationship between earning more and weighing less. Some of you are here for exactly that. It is right within the name of the show and that’s exactly what we’re going to keep doing.

For those of you who are just interested in the money side of things, and I know you’re out there because you’ve also become my clients, first I want to say thank you for listening to my advice about making more money through a weight-loss lens. For you folks, you will soon find that advice in a separate show. It’s called Make More Money and it’s going to launch soon. This show is for high-performing people who underearn. This is the other category of people who’ve come to me since I started podcasting, aside from the weight-loss coaches. You’re the folks who put your shoulder to the wheel and who really make things happen, and you’re perplexed about why that’s not resulting in the kinds of profits that your “lazier” colleagues and competitors, for lack of a better word, are earning. There are reasons and they’re very solvable and I can help you solve them. That’s what’s going into that show.

So if Rich & Thin™ is what you’re after, you’re still going to get it, but those of you who aren’t interested in thin and are only interested in rich are going to get that, too. So that’s the announcement. The money episodes will soon be found in a separate show for high-performing underearners, that’s the Make More Money podcast, and the body episodes, and the relationship between earnings and overeating, will be in this show. We’re going to talk about  the relationship between earning more and weighing less, so if you’re good at money but bad at weight loss, or vice versa, this is still the show for you.

And with that, I’ll close for today. I want to thank you for being here and I look forward to talking with you in our upcoming body episode where we’re going to talk about indulgences and what they are for your body.

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