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Business, Education, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Mentorship, Productivity, Success

What You Need to Know about Finding a Business Mentor

Running a small home business (that hopefully grows into a large business!) is a dream many people share. However, not all people with this dream pursue it.

There are many reasons this is the case, but many people feel they lack the knowledge and experience they would need to build a strong business, and they don’t know where to turn for help.

Luckily, there are many resources available to budding entrepreneurs interested in developing their knowledge and talents. In particular, a mentor can serve as one of the most valuable sources of support and advice for new entrepreneurs. A mentor who has built their own business can share their expertise, answer your questions, offer feedback, provide encouragement, and generally assist you during the early stages of growing your business.

But what do you do if you don’t know any successful business owners who would be willing to act as your mentor? How do you meet people who would be willing to mentor you? The following tips can help you find a mentor who will help you launch and grow your business.

 

Attend Networking Events

It’s important to understand that you shouldn’t think of your business mentor simply as a resource to help you achieve your goals. You can only benefit from mentorship in the long run if you have a genuine relationship with the person helping you grow your business.

speaker

Start your mentor search by attending networking events. Trade shows, conferences, professional organizations, university alumni groups, events hosted by local business incubators, and small business development centers (SBDCs) all offer great opportunities for networking. Don’t try to find a mentor right away at these events. Instead, focus on meeting people and developing relationships with them.

Volunteering is another good strategy for finding a mentor, particularly if you volunteer with an organization that’s related to your field. Even if you volunteer with an organization outside your field, you’ll still meet plenty of people from many walks of life, all of whom can teach you something new and expand your personal network. And of course, you’ll also be giving back to your community.

 

Use Online Resources

If you’re only looking to pick up a specific skill, consider that you might not need a mentor for that purpose. There are plenty of learning resources available to you online, including sites like Study.com, Udemy, Khan Academy, and others. Community colleges and university extensions often offer online classes as well.

However, the internet is also your friend when you’re seeking a mentor. Online services such as MicroMentor and SCORE mentoring are designed specifically to connect business mentors with mentees. You may also want to try looking for local groups on Meetup focused on careers and business networking.

 

Ask Friends & Family

This probably seems obvious to you. Of course, if you already know someone who has successfully grown a business, you would have likely asked them to serve as your mentor already.

However, even if none of your friends and family members have ever owned a business, they might know someone else who has. There’s a good chance one of your friends is also friends with a business owner, and you just weren’t aware of it. So if you ask your friends and family if they know anyone who could serve as your mentor, they may be able to set up a meeting with someone.

This point underscores an important truth about networking: even if a connection can’t directly help you, they can probably put you in touch with people who can. Increasing your primary connections exponentially increases your secondary connections and your odds of finding the help you need.

 

Contact Owners of Similar Businesses

You obviously don’t want to look for a mentor who owns a business that would compete with yours. There’s little chance they’d be willing to help you out.

That said, you might consider looking for businesses that are somewhat similar to yours, but not direct competitors.

business

For instance, perhaps you want to start your own graphic design business. If you’re looking for a mentor, you could research similar creative businesses in your area to find a mentor. Because the nature of their work is similar to yours, but not similar enough to make them a competitor, you might reach out to the owners of these businesses to ask if they’d like to take you on as a mentee.

 

An Essential Point to Keep in Mind

As the above tips illustrate, finding a business mentor doesn’t need to be as difficult as you might assume. However, you do need to remember a key point when developing this type of relationship: the relationship also needs to be valuable for your mentor.

There are plenty of instances when mentors simply enjoy the rewarding experience of helping someone grow a business. However, even if your mentor is helping you for altruistic reasons, you should still ask yourself how you can help them. Maybe you have a different form of expertise they lack. As they mentor you in business, you could mentor them in another area. Maybe you could introduce them to a helpful connection, or you could provide your business’ product or service to them free of charge.

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Business, Education, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Organization, Productivity, Success, Work at Home

How to Stay Productive When Building Your Home Business

Building a small business from home involves a lot of work. Of course, that work can be rewarding, but when you’re performing key tasks outside of a traditional office environment, it can be difficult to stay focused and productive. This puts the future of your enterprise in jeopardy. You need to treat this job as an office job if you’re going to turn your small business into a thriving operation.

Luckily, it isn’t as hard as it sounds. The following key tips will help you better understand how to maximize your own productivity as a home business owner. Keep them in mind to boost your odds of success.

 

Set up a Home Office

Your work environment plays a major role in your ability to complete the items on your to-do list. That’s why it’s a good idea to try and find a dedicated space you can turn into a home office. Granted, you may not have a room in your house or apartment that can be exclusively used for this purpose, but ideally, you want a space that allows you to avoid distractions while also providing the resources you need to get work done.

 

Consider Coworking Spaces

Coworking spaces offer the resources and amenities of a traditional office for budding entrepreneurs like you. Yes, you will have to invest some money to rent space at a coworking office, but the investment will be worthwhile in the long run as the office will typically supply key resources like printers, reliable Internet, and conference rooms (should you ever want to hold face-to-face meetings with potential clients). The money you save on certain items and facilities could justify the cost of renting the space. Additionally, if you have trouble focusing when working at home, an office environment may be just the ticket.

 

office

 

Dress for Success

Did you know that the clothes you wear can play a major role in your mental attitude toward work? Studies have confirmed that dressing formally, like you would if you were going to the office, “primes” you to be productive.

Sure, it can be tempting to wear your most comfortable clothes when you’re not sharing an office with coworkers, but you’ll probably get more work done if you dress the same way you would if you were an employee at a business.

 

Take Breaks

Don’t underestimate the importance of taking breaks. As you strive to be more productive, it can be easy to assume you should stay laser-focused and work long hours without rest. It’s particularly tempting to adopt this attitude when you’re just starting to grow your small business. You have goals you wish to achieve, so you assume working non-stop to achieve them is the only way you’ll keep up your business’ momentum.

It’s easy to understand why someone would think this way. However, studies show that people work more productively when they take 15-minute breaks every 90 minutes. Giving yourself a chance to step away from work is key to getting more work done in the long run.

 

Make Plans

It may sound obvious, but it’s something many overlook when starting small businesses: the importance of setting goals ahead of time.

It can be overwhelming to sit down at your home office desk with the vague goal of building up your business. You probably have many tasks you could be working on, and thus, you might find it difficult to choose which are most important to focus on at that moment. As a result, you’ll likely waste time. Schedule your tasks beforehand, however, and you’ll achieve more.

 

home office

 

Turn off Notifications

Ideally, you should put your phone away when working on your home business. That might be an option to consider if you don’t need your phone for work. However, many small business owners use their phones for key tasks. If this is the case, you should at least turn off notifications for any apps that aren’t relevant to your business. Minimizing distractions is key to optimizing your productivity.

 

Keep Your Space Clean

At a traditional office, you would probably try to maintain a relatively clean, organized workspace. You’d typically do so even if you’re not a naturally organized person. After all, you don’t want your supervisor seeing all that clutter.

Treat your home office the same. Make sure you have all the materials you’ll need access to arranged on your desk before starting work, and clean the space at least once a week. The amount of time it takes to do so will be worth the gains in productivity.

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Business, Education, Entrepreneurship, Management, Organization, Productivity, Technology

Here Are the Best Tips for Entrepreneurs Designing a Business Plan

For many entrepreneurs, choosing to finally go into business for yourself is an exciting decision that is the first step toward accomplishing a lifelong dream. While many people who choose to establish their own company have likely conceptualized a business idea long before they ultimately choose to go into business, not all are aware of the early steps they must take to set their company successfully in motion.

If you are a new entrepreneur who has recently settled on a business idea, your first order of business is research—entrepreneurs must thoroughly investigate the market they are about to enter to test the viability of their business concept. After this initial research comes the first true step you take toward officially establishing your company: the creation of a business plan. Listed below are eight useful tips to help you write a business plan that successfully serves your new company.

 

  1. Consider your audience.

The first thing to do when developing a business plan is to think about the primary purpose the document will serve. For example, if your main goal is to find funding for your company, you will want to write a business plan that caters to potential investors. Conversely, if you already have the capital you need to get your business started, and instead need to attract a client base, you will want to design a business plan that answers a different set of questions than those investors would ask about your venture. Determine what you want to accomplish before you sit down to write, and then keep your audience in mind as you develop your plan.

client phone call

  1. Start with a vision.

Begin your business plan with an explanation of your company’s values, mission, and short-term goals. A simple outline that demonstrates your overarching vision for your venture will give your readers a succinct idea of the business and set them up to better understand the details you provide further in the document. If you aren’t comfortable expressing a vision for the company and would like to be more direct, start the document with a simple executive summary that explains your company’s basic purpose and achievements to date.

 

  1. Demonstrate your research.

Once you get into the details of your business plan, make sure you demonstrate the extent of the research you conducted prior to writing. What’s most important to convey is that there are people willing to pay for your product or service. Include information about the market size, contrasting its current status and its projected growth for the future. Show that you’ve studied your competition and make it clear how your company will enter the market, what hurdles it may confront, and how it will overcome them. In contrast, if you are pioneering a whole new category of products or services, explain how you’ll be able to successfully create a market for your company.

meeting

  1. Be cautious in your financial projections.

Financial analysis is an important part of creating a well-rounded business plan, especially if your primary use of the document will be to attract investors. When you do assess your budget and create a financial forecast, stay realistic and root every projection you make in reality, rather than your own feelings. You may have high hopes for your enterprise, but those who read your business plan need to see your idea as credible, which can only be done if you back up all of your numbers with facts. No matter how ambitious you are about your company’s potential, try to be conservative with your estimates and realistic about your financing needs. If you’re inexperienced in working with financial data, enlisting the help of an accountant for this aspect of your plan can help immensely.

 

  1. Introduce your team.

If you have brought other management employees on board before your company has been fully established, include their credentials in your business plan. This doesn’t have to be an extensive section of the document, but it should represent the work that each person has done prior to joining your team and what he or she will contribute moving forward. Many investors are keen to see this information; it’s sometimes said that investors invest not so much in ideas, but in people. They have to trust you and your team—your experience, passion, and diligence—before they will give you money.

employees

  1. Use visuals.

Break up walls of text within your business plan by including helpful visuals that illustrate key concepts. Consider using graphs and charts to make a powerful impact on your readers when communicating numbers. Include pictures of products or samples of advertising within your plan to give your audience a better idea of what your business is about and how it will function. These elements can strengthen the overall impression your business plan makes and encourage the audience to feel more confident about your ideas.

 

  1. Get creative.

Though your business plan should demonstrate a commitment to professionalism throughout, don’t be afraid to get creative with elements like template or design. Weed out unnecessary information, but include personal elements that show your readers who you are and what kind of entrepreneur you will be as you lead the company. A few unique elements can go a long way toward grabbing the attention of investors or customers and make your business seem more authentic.

insight

  1. Get an objective opinion.

Once you’ve finished your business plan, make sure you have an objective third party review it before you present it to anyone within your professional network. Even if you feel completely confident about the work you’ve done, having another person with experience look over your work can help identify potential weaknesses and raise questions that end up making the plan even more compelling.

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Education, Improvement, Management, Mentorship, Productivity, Success

6 Things Entrepreneurs Should Consider When Seeking Out a Mentor

From the CEOs of the world’s most successful corporations to startup founders who operate from their home offices, studies show that professionals from all backgrounds have something to gain from cultivating a mentoring relationship with a more experienced business leader. If you are an entrepreneur who is thinking of seeking out a mentor, you may benefit from knowing the following things about mentoring relationships.

  1. You need to choose a mentor with the right qualities.

meeting

Not all mentors are created equal. Not only should the person whom you choose as a mentor have experience in building a business, but he or she should also be honest, available, and possess values similar to your own. Good mentors are inspiring leaders who come to the relationship from a place of mutual respect and who will take the time to listen to your questions and opinions, rather than simply provide you with useless advice and speak to boost their own ego.

  1. Having a mentor may help you stay in business.

It’s common knowledge among entrepreneurs that a significant number of startups and small business ventures ultimately fail to find success. According to recent studies, only about half of small businesses remain in operation after five years. However, research indicates that professionals who enlist the help of a mentor may increase the longevity of their business. Of those companies run by leaders who sought out a mentor, around 70 percent were still in business after reaching the five-year mark. A good mentor will be able to evaluate your business plan from a neutral point of view and help you to identify those areas that need improvement, which can help your company stay in operation longer than it would have otherwise.

  1. Mentors can provide you with insight that you can’t get anywhere else.

insight

In many cases, entrepreneurs must learn lessons about company leadership through personal experience. However, talented mentors will be able to share valuable insights learned from the triumphs and mistakes that they made in their own careers. Many small business leaders look for helpful information in books written by notable business executives, but these tools often omit the more intimate experiences that teach the most worthwhile lessons. Developing a strong relationship with an experienced mentor may allow you to gain insights that you would otherwise have had to learn over time, which can help you to avoid common but unnecessary mistakes.

  1. A mentor provides networking opportunities.

The value of having a mentor encompasses more than the ability to provide useful insight and help you improve your skills as a leader. Having a mentor is also an excellent way to broaden your professional network. Experienced mentors who have earned the respect of professionals in their industry are likely to have made a number of beneficial connections with others. When appropriate, your mentor may be willing to help you connect with these professionals, as well. However, it is important to note that you should never ask a mentor to introduce you to any member of his or her professional circle. Instead, you should wait for the mentor to offer. A good mentor will recognize when an introduction would be beneficial and will likely suggest setting up a meeting if your relationship is a positive one.

  1. There’s no “right” way to interact with a mentor.

conversation

If you choose to seek out a mentor, it’s important to remember that there is no “correct” way to conduct the partnership. Some entrepreneurs and their mentors hold in-person meetings, while others choose to communicate exclusively over the phone or by email. Some meet regularly, while others hold meetings on a particular occasion. The only thing that should always be present in a healthy mentoring relationship is a mentor who makes him or herself available to the mentee and is willing to answer questions. In turn, mentees should never expect to be a top priority in their mentors’ professional lives, and they should always be respectful of their mentors’ time. When you find a mentor, you should set your own standards for the relationship, while ensuring that you both agree ahead of time about how often and through what means the two of you will communicate.

  1. Mentors benefit from the relationship, too.

While you will undoubtedly derive value from a mentor’s influence, you must also recognize that the relationship should not be one-sided. Through your mentoring relationship, the professional whom you’ve chosen as your mentor may strengthen his or own skills in business, reinforcing what he or she has learned through the act of teaching you. In addition, your mentor may have the opportunity to learn new skills or meet new valuable business contacts through you and your company. Remember that simply because you have less experience does not mean that you have nothing to offer. To ensure that the relationship is mutually beneficial, both you and your mentor should be respectful of each other’s time and boundaries and never take advantage of one another.

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Education, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Productivity, Success

9 Simple Tips for Better Storytelling as an Entrepreneur

Whether launching a side business or laying the foundation for the next Fortune 500 powerhouse, starting a company also means beginning a story. Strong narratives set businesses in motion, and they help employees, investors, and consumers understand a company and form a personal connection to it. Even if, down the road, an entrepreneur hires a marketing team or a chief storyteller, the ability to craft a business story and relate it to others can help reinforce the entrepreneur’s reputation as a leader.

Storytelling is definitely an art, but entrepreneurs don’t need a degree in creative writing or film to get started. Instead, here are a few pointers for entrepreneurs (or marketers) who want to tell their company’s story.

  1. Put something on the page.

writing

Jodi Picoult, a New York Times bestselling author of multiple novels, once said, “You can’t edit a blank page.” This applies to any business narrative. Entrepreneurs should focus on putting something in writing to begin with and worry about editing later. Similarly, one cannot expect feedback unless the story is shared—incomplete or rough-edged though it may be—with others.

  1. Keep things simple.

Entrepreneurs should aim for simplicity when crafting and presenting the narrative of their company. Too many complex details can bore people or cause them to lose interest if they’re not an expert, and they unnecessarily complicate the story. Avoid overloading the audience with information. Allow the plot to unfold piece-by-piece, and don’t be afraid to start somewhere in the middle.

  1. Cast customers as characters.

The purpose behind thinking of customers as characters is to recognize that the business and its story cannot progress without them. With this mindset, marketers can remove a lot of the guesswork because they can rely on consumer sentiment when deciding how to move the “plot” forward. People want a story they can follow, and they choose the ones that engage them the most.

  1. Support numbers with empathy and emotion.

workplace

Sharing statistics on the performance of the company, how well a product or service works, and other important metrics is valuable. Even more valuable is positioning these figures within engaging anecdotes. After all, people remember stories more than facts and numbers—they don’t develop an emotional connection with percentages and pie charts. To get at the story behind the numbers, think: Do these numbers reflect some type of goal reached? How has a certain product improved the life of a specific client? These human details are necessary to include in your story, no matter who your audience is.

  1. Pay attention to the context.

When telling a business story, entrepreneurs need to be mindful of the context in which their plot develops. This includes following competitors and retooling the company’s story so that it remains relevant. It also means helping consumers differentiate the company from its competitors. In other words, business leaders should strive to not only tell an engaging story, but also to highlight why their narrative is more compelling than the next one.

  1. Define and emphasize the hero.

People are attracted to heroes, underdogs, and relatable protagonists, whether in books, television shows, or movies. The top businesses find ways to create a leading character in their narratives. It can be the business itself, a product, a customer—really, anything or anyone can function as the hero if the story supports that role. Choose whatever resonates most and make that a point of emphasis as the story unfolds.

  1. Strengthen the story with vulnerability.

cyber vulnerability

The surest way to achieve a compelling story is to find a balance between conflict and resolution. In business terms, this can have a number of applications. One example is to point out an unmet need and then offer the client a solution, or to share that the company failed to reach a goal and outline the steps that will be taken to do better next time.

  1. Tie in the call to action.

Even the most engaging story can fall flat without a smooth transition to the call to action. Every piece of the story should lead to some type of action, whether it’s a purchase, an investment in the company, or just sharing a video on social media. Business leaders should therefore focus intently on the final transition, so that the ultimate invitation feels natural.

  1. Leverage a variety of platforms and voices.

One major advantage for storytelling in the business world is that the narrative does not need to be entirely linear. In other words, entrepreneurs can develop bits and pieces and gather little anecdotes here and there to share with consumers. These accounts can be combined to create an overall story. With this approach, entrepreneurs and marketers should utilize every possible platform and medium available to them, from social media posts to website videos.

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Business, Education, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Productivity, Success

11 of the Best Books for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Global literacy percentages are on the rise, yet fewer and fewer people take time to read, with fewer still reading deeply. Books seem to have lost the interest of many, but even as they may have fallen out of vogue, the benefits of reading have not. This is especially true for entrepreneurs and those aspiring to start a business.

Reading enhances verbal and emotional intelligence, and it can foster greater levels of creativity and refine problem-solving skills. Studies also show that spending time turning the pages of a book can significantly reduce stress and can serve as a preventative measure for Alzheimer’s.

For the full effect of reading, scholars recommend that business leaders explore a variety of genres to gain more perspectives. Framing a finance problem as a physical science one, for example, or looking at marketing strategy through the lens of sociological theory can prove advantageous.

Taking the read-to-lead approach is clearly advisable in the business world and in life in general. Here are a few book recommendations to help build up a solid reading list.

  1. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike – Phil Knight

Phil Knight’s memoir grants insight into how he brought the $30 billion dollar Nike brand into existence. The book includes details on the small loan Knight received from his father, the original business model, and how he commissioned the design of the well-known “swoosh” logo, among other fascinating accounts.

  1. Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One – Jenny Blake

In this publication, Jenny Blake helps entrepreneurs understand the importance of making their next move and how to prepare for it. She stresses the importance of building on personal strengths in any period of transition, and she outlines steps for finding opportunities and completing the necessary research to move from A to B.

  1. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers – Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss, host of the popular podcast by the same name, has compiled in book form bits and pieces of knowledge gained through his interviews with said “billionaires, icons, and world-class performers.” Ferriss presents the strategies and habits observed by some of the most successful people living today, from Jamie Foxx to Malcolm Gladwell.

  1. The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed on Your Own Terms – Vishen Lakhiani

With the purpose of helping people rethink their perspectives on life, Vishen Lakhiani proposes a set of 10 laws for setting aside traditional ways of thinking and to redefine success and fulfillment. Entrepreneurs will want to experiment with the lessons in this book to improve not only their businesses but also their personal lives.

  1. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – Angela Duckworth

A well-regarded psychologist, Angela Duckworth has focused much of her research on what kinds of people achieve success and how they get there. In this book, she leverages a number of stories to argue against talent and intellect and in favor of grit, or the mixture of persistence and passion, something people can learn independent of their circumstances.

  1. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World – Adam Grant

Adam Grant, a psychologist and business professor, is interested in how people improve the world around them by means of originality. He looks at the experiences of prominent and not-so-prominent figures in history, as well as a formidable selection of research, to determine what kind of people are able to disrupt the status quo.

  1. Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

A major New York Times bestseller, this book offers an in-depth look into how people negotiate and balance their intuition and logic. Written by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel laureate in economics, this book addresses when it’s best to trust snap judgments and when it’s best to take some time to ponder.

  1. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear – Elizabeth Gilbert

The celebrated author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert returns with another book that promises to inspire. She covers the topic of fear as the main obstacle between people and their dreams, and she offers suggestions, through personal accounts and those of others, on how to better approach hardship with curiosity and creativity.

  1. Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, members of SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser, wrote Extreme Ownership to share winning tactics of US Navy SEALS. The book outlines the leadership principles observed by SEALS in combat, and it shows how business leaders can likewise apply them in their daily operations.

  1. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World – Cal Newport

In Deep Work, Georgetown computer science professor Cal Newport makes a case for the value of working distraction-free and spending a meaningful amount of time on any given project or task. He highlights the benefits of this approach and gives readers actionable steps on how to achieve their own “deep work.”

  1. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Greg McKeown

After 15 years of research and observation, Greg McKeown distilled his findings into a single book that aims to help people claim success through simplicity. He points out how achievement can, if left unchecked, prevent future achievement, and he shows readers how to cut out the trivial and focus on what truly matters to them.

business
Business, Education, Entrepreneurship, Organization, Success, Technology

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at How Top Businesses Got Their Names

The best businesses have iconic names. Some, like ChapStick, Kleenex, or Q-Tips, become so engrained in the lexicon that people use these titles to refer to a type of product rather than a specific brand. Some consumers even use company names, like Google or Skype, as verbs, so that these terms not only reveal what product someone is using, they also describe what that person is doing.

Company names are almost always the first thing people see when they interact with a brand. As a result, it is extremely important for entrepreneurs to pick a name that reflects the business and that also creates a positive, memorable experience. The following list gives examples of some of the best-known businesses in the world, how they came to bear their names, and why a few underwent name changes:

  1. Warby Parker

Warby Parker revolutionized the eyewear industry by offering low-priced frames and lenses online. The company name is a pairing of Warby Pepper and Zagg Parker, two characters in a book by Jack Kerouac, who the company founders say inspired them to explore the unknown.

  1. Apple

A trip to Oregon reportedly inspired Steve Jobs to call the company Apple Computers. Today, the friendly and approachable Apple name is synonymous will all things “I,” including the iPhone and iPad.

  1. Google

Google, the top search engine in the world, takes its title from the word “googol,” which mathematicians use to describe the number 1 succeeded by 100 zeros. Company founders Larry Page and Serge Brin actually started out with the label BackRub before transitioning to the name everyone knows today.

  1. Yahoo

Another notable search engine and e-mail provider, Yahoo is the brainchild of Jerry Yang and David Filo, who were pursuing doctoral degrees at Stanford when they started the company. Some sources report that Yahoo stands for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle,” but Yang and Filo claim they took their inspiration from the book Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.

  1. Nike

Nike is a giant in the footwear and apparel industry, and its title may be familiar to some as the namesake of the winged goddess of victory from Greek mythology. Originally doing business as Blue Ribbon Sports, and the company later renamed itself to reflect the inspiration behind the iconic “swoosh” logo.

  1. Reebok

A reputable contender in the athletic wear market, Reebok was founded by J. W. Foster in 1895. His grandson, Joe Foster, later renamed the firm, choosing a new name from a South African dictionary entry for a type of antelope (“rhebok”).

  1. PayPal

One of the pioneers of the electronic payment movement, PayPal actually started out as Confinity (a merging of “confidence” and “infinity”) with a focus on developing technology for Palm Pilot. In 1999, the business expanded its offerings to include e-mail payments and changed its name to PayPal.

  1. Skype

Skype is a leading communications technology that allows users to send instant messages and meet remotely through video conference calls, among other capabilities. Founded as Sky-Peer-to-Peer, the company has since condensed its name twice, first to Skyper and then to Skype.

  1. Sony

Sony has become synonymous with household electronics, but it started out as a Japanese radio repair shop called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo in 1946. The company quickly expanded and later developed the transistor television. In 1958, it took on the widely recognized name Sony Corporation.

  1. 3M

The maker of Scotch tape, Post-It notes, and other products, 3M opened for business in 1902. The founders established the company as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, but they wanted a simpler name, so they abbreviated the three M’s.

  1. Häagan-Dazs

Founded in New York, Häagan-Dazs has produced ice cream products for more than 55 years. The founder, Reuben and Rose Mattus, wanted to pick a name that no one could replicate, so they made one up. The term Häagan-Dazs has no real meaning, but the Mattus pair chose it because it sounded foreign.

  1. Ikea

An internationally recognized purveyor of furniture and home goods, Ikea is headquartered in Sweden. Its founder, Ingvar Kamprad, selected the title by placing his name and the name of his childhood village in order—Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd—and making an acronym out of the words.

  1. Best Buy

Best Buy ranks among the most successful electronics franchises, but from its inception in 1966 to 1981 it did business as Sound of Music. After a tornado hit one of its biggest stores, it held a special sale on the salvaged inventory, offering the “best buys” on products. This sale was so successful was that that company switched its name.

  1. Lego

Lego is the familiar manufacturer of plastic bricks that connect to form anything one can imagine. To come up with the company name, the founders merged together the Danish phrase “leg godt,” which means “play well.” Coincidentally, Lego is also Latin for “I put together.”