As a new entrepreneur, you want to know how to name your business after yourself and to learn the pros or cons of using your personal name as a business name.
Lots of my business startup clients also ask this question so I have researched the topic and written this article which includes case study statistics and success tips from business naming experts.
You should name your business after yourself if your business products are your artistic creations such as designers, singers and actors WHO ARE their brands such as the fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg and singer Barbara Streisand.
All other types of companies selling products and services, should NOT use their personal name as the business name according to researchers at Duke School of Business who report that founder named businesses have lower company valuation results of 8%. Other reasons to not use your personal name include the difficulty of trademark registration, restricted expansion options, and less professional image.
Let’s explore this concept further of naming your business using your personal name with this list of considerations to review.
Personal Name vs Business Name
I purposely have listed the cons first on this list because I strongly recommend that you do not use your personal name as your business name for the majority of startup companies. Sure there are a few pros for using your personal name and I do list those below.
>NOTE: There are some special exceptions. Some states require professionals who are specially licensed such as attorneys and medical professionals to use their personal names within their company names. Refer to this state by state professional entities’ requirements.
Cons for Using Personal Name as Company Name
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- Your Personal Name is Your Ego on Display – If you think that your personal name is the most important thing about your company, more important than the value and benefit you offer your customers, then you are mistaken.
Successful entrepreneurs all consider their customer’s needs first and how they can satisfy those needs at a profit. Having your personal name first and foremost sends the wrong message, that of your ego over your customer’s needs.
- Your Personal Name Says Nothing About Your Business – Sure your personal name is awesome and tells people about your family heritage. But it says nothing about the type of products or services your company offers or the reasons customers should call your firm instead of your competitors.
Here’s an example to illustrate this point; who would you call first to bake your wedding cake A) Sally Sue Creations or B) Delicious Weddings. I am sure you and I both would contact B)Delicious Weddings first.
- Personal names are too long – People’s names are two or more words long which makes them too long for a good, short domain name or brand name.
Quick and catchy one-word brand names are easy to remember, spell and get the matching domain name or social media accounts.
- Your Personal Name is Generic – Even if you think that your name is unique I guarantee you that millions of people share your first or last name and sometimes both! Don’t spend time, effort and money launching a company with a name that is essentially invisible, meaningless and easily forgettable.
- Duplicate Personal Name Companies Exist – Many uninspired entrepreneurs have used their personal names for their company name. If you do the same, evidently you will be the duplicate of another mediocre company. At worst you will be tainted with their bad reputation or get sued for using their name and at best your customers will be confused and order from them instead of you.
- Hard to Register a Business Trademark for Your Personal Name – Another big disadvantage of using your personal name for your business name is the difficulty with registering a trademark.
Since the USPTO United States Patent and Trademark Office is concerned with commercial trade the laws are written to protect brand names and not personal names. Thus, if you want to trademark your personal name you must find a business usage for it and that business must be within the narrowly defined categories of products and services listed in the USPTO trademark application.
Don’t stress yourself with researching the complex trademark process instead get expert advice (on the cheap) at Legalzoom.
- Limits Your Business and Brand Growth – While locally your personal name is associated with the finest construction services, I promise you that nationally that is not the case. If you plan to expand your company outside of your local area, using your personal name for your company name is unwise.
- Difficult to Sell Your Company – If you decide to use your first or last name in your brand name you have drastically reduced your company valuation for resale. Buyers don’t want to purchase firms that are too closely connected to their founders. This is because they cannot go forward to expanding on that brand.
On the other side of the coin, is people who have sold brands with their personal names that are then dramatically limited in the ways they can use their own names in the future, such as fashion designer Halston and cookie magnet Famous Amos. PS I enjoyed reading Wally Amos’s story in his book – Man with No Name – who shares his experience.
- Creates Inheritance Issues – Similarly to limiting your resale value, naming your company after yourself can create inheritance and succession issues.
Imagine that John Smith named his company John Smith Real Estate and then his daughter, named Mary Jones inherits the business. This creates customer confusion and weakens your brand.
- Your Personal Name Could Change – These days people are changing their names for all sorts of reasons. Some married women are changing their last names to that of their spouses.
Other married couples, both straight and gay, are changing both of their names to a combination of their last names.
Additionally, with divorce and remarriages on the rise, many people’s names will change over their lifetime. Don’t fall into the trap of using your name today and thinking that it will never change. It could.
- Personal Names Don’t Age Well – I hope that you and your personal name live a long time. But it will not be forever. When you die so does your personal name.
Your business can and should be built to last many generations. An example is a local oil heating company with the name Burt’s Reliable. The company was founded in 1921 and Burt has long since passed, however, every day some customer asks to speak with Burt!
- Your Business Appears Less Professional and Trustworthy – Most companies that are named after people appear less professional and more like hobby businesses than real companies to buyers.
Some people will also consider them less trustworthy because they seem less organized and established than firms with unique brand names.
Pros for Using Your Personal Name as Your Business Name
Since we have covered all the cons of using your personal name as your business name I want to point out the few pros of using your name as your brand
- Easy to Use Your Own Name – Using your personal name removes all the stress of creating a new business name for your company. You know your name and just start using it as your company name. No stress, no worries.
But I think that if you cannot spend the time and brainpower to come up with a business name (you can use my business name ideas lists or a free business name generators check out my tips here) then you are being lazy and shortsighted. Starting a business requires work and don’t try to cut corners.
- Use Personal Bank Account for Business – You may think that this is a pro since it is easy to deposit customer payments into an existing personal bank account.
But this is the #1 way to screw up your business accounting and get the IRS to audit you. Plus, in most states, you will need to register for a DBA and get an EIN to legally accept payments for business services.
- Personal Customer Connection – Some entrepreneurs feel that using their personal name is a friendly way to connect with their customers on a deeper level. They think that this is akin to doing business with friends.
- Existing Industry Reputation – Perhaps you have developed a reputation for quality workmanship in your industry and you want to capitalize upon that by using your name in your business name.
My hope is that this article has given you good food for thought about how to name your business with your personal name and if it is a good idea for your company.
I urge you to strongly (and honestly) consider if you are trying to feed your ego or establish a strong, long-lasting business name that can expand nationally and stand the test of time over generations.
Technically, yes you can use the initials of your name as your company name. But, branding experts recommend against it. That is because a few odd letters will never communicate well the benefits of your products or services to prospective customers. Would you call ABC Electric or We Fix Your Shorts Electric?
Yes, you can name your LLC after yourself, however, legal experts recommend to then always include the letters LLC after your name when you are referring to your business company. First, you will need to search your state’s business database to be certain that another person (with your same name) has not already reserved that LLC name.
No, your LLC name does not to exactly match your business name. Learn more about how to name your LLC in my in-depth article here.