Naming your company — should you use your own name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

—Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Years ago I read the E-Myth, a book about being an entrepreneur, and concluded that I really wasn’t much of an entrepreneur. According to the book, you should start a company to build a company, and not just to create a job for yourself. It made a lot of sense, but frankly, I wasn’t interested in building my consultancy into a business or becoming a PR agency. I just wanted to work for myself, make my own hours, and choose my own projects. Not much of an entrepreneur, said the E-Myth.

When I decided that this thing I had been doing, taking contract work and freelance assignments, was some kind of business that I should name, I decided I should name it after myself. Because basically it was me a client would be hiring, even if they paid my company. It was my reputation in my field that would get me work, and I would never imagine building up a business that wasn’t really just my job.

Luckily, my parents gave me the name they did. Because kitschy as it was when I was living in Ottawa, by the time I settled in Vancouver, calling my company C-Shore Communications, using my own name but sounding business-like all the same, was a natural for me.

Recently, a friend who is setting up a business asked my opinion on what to call her company. She’s in a similar situation in terms of building a consultancy and not aiming to create a business that she can work on, not in (as the E-Myth says any good entrepreneur should do). My first instinct was she should use her name in the title. After all, she already has a reputation in her field, and it seems right to build on that.

But there’s one problem — she has the exact same name as another woman working in the same field in the same city. She does, however, have a cause/industry with which she is closely associated, and while it’s mildly obscure, it also works well to sum up her skills and passions. So she named her company after that, rather than her name.

In my field, public relations, most companies are named after a person. It’s the same in advertising and law when you think about it. And I’m talking about big companies, not just one-person businesses like mine. You build your reputation, name your company after yourself, then if you want to be a true entrepreneur, hire lots of people and let them work “in” the business while you work “on” the business.

How did you name your company and why?

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One Response to Naming your company — should you use your own name?

  1. GenXwords says:

    Interesting…I named my non-profit consulting company after my name as well (or at least the first letter of my name) just seemed a natural fit.

    You are right, in consulting, you are selling you. Your skills, talents, expertise, academic preparation, ideas etc. Seems odd to name it anything other than after your name.

    I also got tired of writing out Vanessa all the time and started signing all correspondence with just a “V”. Granted, going by V Consulting does sometimes conjure up images of that bad mini-series in the 80’s named “V” but I’m happy with the name, it is clear, easy to remember and tied closely to my brand and image-me.

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