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When To Use Your Name As Your Consulting Firm Name

By Michael Zipursky
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As a follow up to my last post on ‘Consulting Business Names: How To Decide What Works Best’ I realized there is one area that many of you likely wanted an answer to yet I completely forgot to discuss.

That is, when is it right to use your own name as your consulting firm’s name.

The answer is a simple one, but I want you to understand that there are no hard and fast rules here. This is my opinion from years in the trenches, but ask someone else and they may do their best to prove me wrong – and I’d welcome that.

So without further ado, how to decide?

Ask yourself these questions:
Do I want the business to revolve around me? Do I want to become THE personality and driving force behind it? Do I want to be front and center? If you answered yes to all of these then you’re one step closer to using your name in whole or in part as your firm’s.

For the most part, not all mind you, businesses that don’t plan to grow beyond a couple of people – where you are the driver of the business and doing all or most of the client interaction – are a good fit for using the owner’s name.

This doesn’t mean that you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you use your name as the company’s but there may be some challenges.

You need to consider is will this be a legacy business. Do you want this carried on past your lifetime? If so what will happen when you’ve moved on, will this be an issue when selling the company or a hindrance to running it?

Think about the many law firms that use their name as the practice’s name. It all works out well but what happens when one of the partners retires? Will everyone feel comfortable keeping the name? More importantly what happens if you now need to change it? (The headaches associated with rebranding, updating cards, emails, etc).

Look at the companies that have made this choice, Giorgio Armani has pretty much become Armani, Louis Vuitton as become Vuitton, and Dell well is still Dell. In the cases of growth companies, clearly the last name takes over – so if you’re going this route consider starting with the last name as the focus.

Perry Marshall the Adwords and marketing consultant uses “Perry Marshall & Associates” and he’s one of the smartest guys around with a booming business. But if you ask Perry I think he’d say that it works for him because he’s still the front-and-center personality of the business on a daily basis. It makes sense.

It’s better to ask these questions now than when it comes down to crunch time.

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