When an why you should use your own name for your business

Many people consider using their own name for their business but don’t know whether it is the right decision or not. Others don’t even consider using their own name but it would actually be a great name for their business model.

In this post I am writing about when you should use own own name for your business, why using your own name can be great for your business as well as what the advantages and disadvantages are

When-use-your-own-name-for-your-business | MNFL Design

Here are some reasons why people don’t use their own name. Maybe you can relate?

  • My name is difficult to remember

  • My name is not pretty

  • My name is difficult to pronounce

  • My name is difficult to spell

  • My name is not an international name

  • My name is so common

  • The URL is not free anymore

  • My business is not about me

  • I don’t want people to get a false understanding because of the name

  • I don’t know how to name my email address

Some industries are ideal for the use of your own name

If you have a service based business and you are the person delivering the service the chances are high that it would be great to use your own name for your business. Often your clients are mainly booking your companies and services because of YOU! You are the heart and soul of your business and are behind everything. This does not mean that you have to be a solo entrepreneur, you can have people working for you, and the overall brand is still build around you.

In these cases your customer wants to relate to and get to know the person behind the business better before booking them. The name of a business is often the first contact point and having the business named after the owner is already very personal. So often it helps to break the ice :-)

The above is often the case for photographers, coaches of any kind, teachers, actors, artists, speakers, designers, personal trainer, some bloggers, event organizers and the list goes on.

Even restaurant owners and store owners can very well fall into this category. And it’s the best example where the use of your name makes total sense and is even recommendable.

Pros of using your own name for your business

If you are one of those people you might think ‘but I don’t want to be the center of my business, my clients and my services are.’ Yes I thought so too! And yes you are right: Your client should always be the center of your business and attention. However most likely your client is looking for this personal connection and personalized service when looking to book in your industry. And the name is a great starting point for this extra personal touch.

  • Using your own name makes your business automatically more about you, it gives your business a heart and makes it very personal. For many businesses, when they are about the founder/owner anyway (like a photographer or a coach) and the interaction between the owner and the customer is quite personal, the name can support this and guide potential customers and clients in the right direction.

  • Using your own name gives you flexibility of being able to go into all kinds of directions in the future. You are not constrained to one industry (in my case Design).

  • It makes it easy to remember - and also easy to find on social media.

  • There is no confusion when people talk about the business and the owner. It is the same. (In my case I know people use MNFL Design and Emilia Ohrtmann interchangeably and it can be confusing and it sometimes takes some time to realize that we are basically one.)

These are no real disadvantages (only excuses)

The initial reactions of many entrepreneurs of using their name for their business is hesitant and I named a few reasons above why. You might have found the answers why the initial reactions of so many entrepreneurs of using their own name are no real disadvantages, however I still want to give you my thoughts to all the comments I get so often:

  • My name is difficult to remember
    NO! If you hear a name over and over again, people will remember it. Think of the names of politicians or pop stars or movie stars, you do remember their names because you have seen them and read them so often. On the contrary if a name is different, people might even be more likely to remember it.

  • My name is not pretty
    Every name is unique and pretty in its own way. And a business name does not need to be pretty. It needs to make sense. Think about all the big names you might know (Marie Forleo, Gary V, Gabby Bernstein, - do think you about whether the name is pretty or not? I don’t, I remember them and their name because they are good in what they do and they resonate with me!

  • My name is difficult to pronounce Yes, that can really be the case but you can think of an abbreviation or a simpler version of your name (think Gary V). Plus often you might think so and actually that is not the case and people will still remember your name.

  • My name is difficult to spell
    Yes, again, this might be true. But people will learn more quickly than you might think. They might even remember you more because of it. (think Melyssa Griffin - with a Y) and again you could think of a simpler version of your name.

  • My name is not an international name
    Yes, same as above is that really the case or only an excuse? Would your name make you even more interesting? Again you could think of a simpler version or abbreviation.

  • My name is so common
    If you think so, you can google your name and see what really comes up. If there really are many other businesses with the same name you can use part of your name or an abbreviation or a different version of your name.

  • The URL is not free anymore
    Is there another option with another ending free? Can you buy the domain name from the current owner?

  • My business is not about me
    Well, yes, but I do want to challenge you and ask you to be honest with yourself. Is it really? Or does it just feel uncomfortable?

  • I don’t want people to get a false understanding because of the name
    Why? What can people misunderstand?

  • I don’t know how to name my email address
    Be creative! Some ideas are:

Cons of using your own name for your business

Well, if you are one of the people I mentioned above there are actually not many disadvantages. However there are some things to consider:

  • If you business it not a service based business but a product based business and it is not about you at all.

  • If you know you want to sell your company at some point it might be wise to use a fictional name.

  • If you know in advance you want to get one or more partners in the future.

  • If you want to grow and have many employees and you feel it might be strange to use your name. However an option would be to use only your first name or your surname for example.

  • If you want to expand into areas where the name does not make sense anymore or you want to hire experts for those areas.

Saying that for the last two points there can still be great solutions. You can for example form a sub company or use a different name for these areas.

Two examples would be if you offer a course, you can name just the course differently. And secondly if you develop a certain method or technique for coaching or fitness or dieting (there are many examples) you can give this method a different name.

My own story

When I started MNFL Design, I had exactly the same thoughts. “My name is not so pretty, it is difficult to pronounce in English and to spell (Emilia Ohrtmann). Also I wanted my business to be about my customers and I wanted my customers to book my knowledge and services.” In the back of my head I kind of knew my customers would book me and my own name would make sense as a business name. But I did not listen to that voice. Instead I told myself the name is not so important and I can still change it later. (Which is true but of course it requires some work).

Well, now I am still super happy with the name MNFL Design. It has a very personal connection for me and it is a conversation starter over and over again as people always ask what the four letters stand for. Still it is difficult to remember…

And I realized really quickly that my clients are booking my company and my services because of me and because they trust me and like me and my style. Also when people recommend me, they use my name and not my business name. So having sort of two names can be confusing sometimes. To wrap it up, it would have made total sense to use my own name for my business and I am still considering to change it in the near future.

Can you relate to my story? I would love to hear your opinions and reasons behind naming your own business the way you did. And, as usual, you can ask me any questions you might have!

xx Emilia

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