You see it all the time across different industries; Smith & Doe Associates or Smith Legal Services for example.
Business owners name their company after themselves for a variety of reasons but those reasons aren’t always good. Sometimes (and I’ve literally heard this from businesses I know), the name is just “easy” and doesn’t take a lot of thought. Other times, the naming is associated with a sense of pride or a family legacy.
So, what about your business? Is naming your business after yourself the right choice? As with almost every question in life; it depends. Here are some considerations when deciding on the name of your company or organization.
1) What is my long-term intention with my business?
This means goals. Do you plan to have a lifestyle firm where you only serve enough clients to sustain your lifestyle? Or do you plan to grow, hire, and expand? These questions are important not only for yourself as a business owner but also for your family and employees to know.
If you do plan to eventually pass down the company to your son, for example, your last name being part of the company may not be an issue. However, if you pass it to your daughter, she may not share your last name forever and is it really ideal to work for a firm that is associated with an owner who is no longer part of the firm. Maybe or maybe not.
2) Does my name being associated with the firm create a certain perception of the size or intentions of the company?
My first boss in corporate America used to always say “Perception is reality” and while I don’t believe that perception is literally reality to the person who is being perceived, it certainly is the reality of those who are perceiving.
My point here is just that having it named after yourself may set the perception that the firm is a small family firm. If you are planning for growth or for an ultimate M&A, this perception could hinder your ability to get noticed by a larger company looking to acquire or merge with you.
Having your name as the business can also send signals to the company you may be partnering with to think that the company itself relies on one person (you) more than others. That means that when it comes to a business valuation, your valuation could suffer simply because that of that assumption, losing you hard dollars because of your decision.
3) Does it negatively impact clients’ ability to remember our name?
This is often not something that comes to mind first because there is a sense of pride in having a company named after yourself. There is an inherent silent success in having a company you created and hanging that name on your door.
It is important to think about how your last name is spelled and whether your target market would be familiar with that type of last name. Many last names are difficult to pronounce, especially if its origin isn't one your target margin is familiar with. So, while “Smith” certainly may be easy for most to pronounce and remember, Beczkiewicz may not be (no offense to anyone I know with that last name).
When words (or names in this situation) aren’t easy for us to pronounce, it’s harder to visualize the name in our head and recall it. This means that if you’re relying on prospects to remember your company name or even refer others, it may prove more difficult.
4) What benefits do I get from having a company synonymous with my name?
There are times when it’s appropriate or even advantageous to name your company after yourself. Some situations include if you have a very strong brand presence and network in the community and are very well known. This can help people not only remember you but can also improve site traffic utilizing SEO in conjunction with appearances or quotes related to your industry.
If you plan to be the brand and face of the company with a strong value or philosophy you’re sharing, this could be a good idea. Associating a business with a person can bring to life the message you’re trying to display. Additionally, there are many companies that have been passed down from generation to generation and the naming creates a family legacy many people are proud of and trust.
The point is that your decision to name your company after yourself should be taken into careful consideration and be thoughtful. It should align with your goals and objectives as a business owner and should help the right clients find you and do business with you.