You want to set up a Web site, but when you try to register the domain name that best reflects your business, thumbtacks.com, you find that it's taken.
You think of some other ideas, but they, too, are already registered.
The next step is to list every conceivable idea that remotely relates to your business, and try to register each one until you find one that's available.
Or you could skip the whole process and go to Nameboy.com.
"Nameboy is the first intelligent name creation site," says Tom Jackson, who goes by the title of chief executive boy for the company. "It's different in that it has a variety of different techniques for creating domain names using linguistics."
In simpler terms, you enter a name you're interested in. If it isn't available, the site returns a list of many names that are similar in meaning to your original choice. For example, entering thumbtacks.com reveals that it is taken, but the site offers a list of alternatives that aren't, such as ethumbtacks.com and thumbtacksnet.com. It also lists words that are similar in meaning to help you find a related term. In this case, pushpin and paper fastener are two of the alternatives.
The company has one linguist on staff and another consultant to help keep the search engine fine tuned.
"We also help in the naming process by providing names that are already taken," says Jackson. "This can help stimulate brainstorming. There is also a good chance the name may be for sale if you like it. We provide information on who owns the name and how to get ahold of them."
The site gets 85 percent of its customers from small businesses. The service is free -- Nameboy makes its money on referrals to other sites.
"We're the only intelligent naming site out there," says Jackson. "They say that Network Solutions (the company primarily responsible for registering domain names) is the first step on the Internet experience. But if you think about it, you can't take a step until you find a name you like, is brandable or available.
"There are people who take the 'ready, fire, aim' approach when developing a site. We precede the purchase of the name."
As the first stepping stone into the Internet, Nameboy has become an attractive focal point for businesses targeting this niche.
"We are the narrowpoint in the funnel to selling services to new businesses. The reason we started was because we recognized this was a way to attract companies who were interested in distributing their products to a highly qualified customer base."
The 25,000 top words in the English language are all currently registered as dot-coms.
"Right now, some people think every name is taken," says Jackson. "It's a challenging problem, but I hope Nameboy can continue to be the solution." How to reach: Nameboy, www.nameboy.com
Todd Shryock (email@example.com) is SBN's special reports editor.