Why not to use your own name as your business name

When naming your business, you want something that’s not already registered as a trademark or limited company, and where the relevant domains are available to buy. But lots of good names are already taken. Many people trade under their own name, as you don’t have to ask permission to do that. Trouble is, using names or initials doesn’t tell customers what you do and why they should buy from you. It’s top down; not bottom-up. It’s about you; not about them.

I got talking to a man at a business event, who introduced himself as John Smith from Smith Business Solutions (I’ve changed his name to protect his identity).

I hate the word ‘Solutions’ in a business name! It’s so overused it’s become meaningless.

Can you guess what his business does? No, neither could I.

He told me he sells office supplies, using the same catalogue as everyone else with a wraparound cover.

I asked: “Why did you call the company after yourself?”

He objected: “But Ford is named after the owner!”

Yes, but Ford has already built a brand and cars sell on emotion. That’s not how people buy paperclips.

A great business name tells people what you do, how you do it, and why they should choose you. So I asked: “If I’m Mrs Ideal Client, why should I buy from you?”

We established that his company offers a more personal service than his bigger competitors, and that he delivers to London and surrounding areas.

I suggested adding a slogan: “The friendliest office supplies inside the M25.”

“Ooh, I like that,” he admitted.

If your business name doesn’t ‘do what it says on the tin’, then add a slogan to explain more. Contact me if you’d like help to write it.

3 Responses to Why not to use your own name as your business name

  1. James Coakes June 25, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    The best reason is that one day you might want to sell the business and having a unique identity will help.

  2. jackiebarrie June 25, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    Good point, thank you.

  3. Jackie April 21, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Having realised that *I* am what I sell, I’m breaking my own rules now by trading as my own name. Ah well, we all have the right to change our minds!

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