When you build your freelancing business, at some point the question of branding will come up. What do you want to call your business, and what image do you want to project?
This is when you’ll want to think hard about your freelancing business’ name and identity.
You have two choices: either use your personal name or come up with a “formal” business name.
Either one has advantages and disadvantages, which you’ll see below.
Using Your Personal Name: Pros and Cons
Using your personal name as your business name is, of course, the easiest and fastest way to come up with a brand.
In some areas, if you use your own name and conduct business as a single proprietorship, you don’t need to register it. (Please double-check the laws in your location to make sure this applies.)
If you’re just starting out and don’t have the resources to formally register a business name, or are not sure if you’re into freelancing for the long haul, this may be the best option for you. (However, if you have a common name, it’s a good idea to register your personal name anyway, to avoid duplication.)
On the other hand, using your personal name as your business name does have its disadvantages too.
For one thing, your business may be perceived as less professional, less serious and even less credible than if you had a “real” business name.
Secondly, it may be much harder to sell your business later. Investors in general would be unwilling to purchase an existing business that’s tied too much to a specific person–unless you become rich and famous, of course.
It’s also impossible to communicate your Unique Selling Proposition by using your personal name, instead of a punchy but meaningful business name.
Finally, in some countries, markets, and cultures, your name may be inappropriate to use. For example, if it is difficult to pronounce, spell or remember, then you’d be harming your business by using your personal name. This can be a big issue if you want to work with clients in different countries and cultures.
Using a Formal Business Name: Advantages and Disadvantages
After reading the above, you may conclude that using a formal business name is the best way to go.
It has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The benefits of using a business name rather than your personal name are that, first of all, you can clearly communicate your USP, main benefit or value in a business name. Your business name alone, if well crafted, can immediately communicate to your prospects.
A good business name will also lend you credibility. Plus, it’s much easier to sell your business later on (if you choose to do so).
That said using a business name also has its drawbacks. In the first place, you’ll want to put a lot of thought into crafting one. It needs to be memorable, punchy, and meaningful. Some companies spend thousands of dollars working with consultants just to identify good brand names for their products.
If you’re up to it, you could conduct market research to make sure your business name is attractive and effective with your target market.
And then, after you’ve found the business name you’re happy with, you’ll need to go through the process of registering it. You’ll need to make sure that it’s unique and hasn’t been registered by another business, at least in your locality. The entire process requires money, time, and effort.
Also, choosing a business name entails making a long-term commitment. That name will be on all your communication materials, such as business cards, stationery, email signatures, website, and advertisements.
If you suddenly change your mind, decide to reinvent your business, or have to switch markets or focus, it may not be easy to do so with your existing business name. Changing your business name will result in additional costs, time and effort as well.
What It All Boils Down To
In the end, how you brand your business will depend on your personal preference and business goals.
The easiest path to take is to begin with your personal name and then, as your business grows, to acquire a business name.
All businesses need to “grow up” at one point. It’s possible that you build such a good reputation that your personal name would make your business more marketable and even more sellable. Names of big advertising agencies come to mind.
Or, you could prefer to keep your business distinct from your personality and go with a formal business name.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Personally, I’m still too fickle-minded to commit to a business name right now–although I know I will pick one someday soon.
How about you? Do you use your personal name as your business name, or did you come up with another business name? May I know how you came to that decision?
Do share your thoughts in the comments below and help other freelancers make their choice.
Image by kaibara87