Ever considered becoming a freelancer? There might seem like a lot to think about before you get started. So let’s start at the beginning, “What should I call my company?” is often the first question on a budding freelancer’s lips. Some spend weeks trying to come up with a snappy company name, while others prefer to jump right and name their company after themselves or use their initials as a business name. Which way is right for you?
Your decision will depend on various factors. Of course, there are pros and cons to both options. In this post, I’ll explain what to look out for and how to make the best naming decision for your new business.
Should I use my own name as my business name?
Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of naming your freelance business after yourself.
Advantages of using your own name
1. Showcase your story
Using your own name for your company will show customers that you have a story to tell. People like to learn about the businesses they’re buying from, especially now that there’s so much competition out there in the digital freelance community. Having a story to captivate your target audience will help you build a personal connection with them and generate interest in your business, so it’ll be easier for you to find freelance work.
2. Look friendly and accessible
Companies named after their founders tend to appear as friendlier, more accessible, and more affordable to customers than companies with “real” business names. Whether or not this is true, it can help you attract customers. But the expectation of a lower price certainly plays a role, so make sure you’re happy to pitch at a lower price point.
3. Use your unique name to boost SEO
If you have a unique name, you’re already at an advantage when it comes to SEO. So use it! Depending on how rare your given name is, you could be the only business trading under that name. This is going to make life a lot easier when it comes to ranking in search engines. But if your name is “John Smith,” for example, you probably won’t find yourself on page one of Google—regardless of how successful your business is.
Disadvantages of using your own name
1. You could limit long-term growth
It can be tempting to name your company after yourself, especially when you’re first starting out. Why? Because it’ll save you time trying to come up with a clever company name. But if you plan to hire employees in the future, or to do business with bigger corporations, then building a company named after yourself could stand in the way of your success. When pitching to a corporation, for example, trading under your own name could make you seem less professional or too small to cope with big projects.
2. It’s difficult to sell-up
If you want the option to sell your business one day, then using a company name that’s not tied to you, personally, will make this easier. When you go to sell-up, having your business branded under your own name could make a sale tricky because part of the brand and its value would be tied to you.
3. Offers less privacy
These days, when we’re interested in a business we can find out everything we want to know about it online. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys sharing your personal updates on social media—like posting holiday snaps on Facebook or Instagram—then I’d advise you not to name your business after yourself for privacy reasons. Choosing a business name that’s different from your own will keep your personal and private online presence separate. You’ll look professional and your customers won’t be confused when they accidentally land on your personal Facebook page when searching for your business.
Should I use a company name for my freelance business?
Advantages of using a company name
1. Attract higher-paying clients
Big businesses attract big clients. In fact, many large corporations will avoid working with independent freelancers because they consider it more of a risk. Your company name will have an effect on the type of clients you attract and give them an impression of your company’s possible size. If you want to work with indie retailers or startup companies, for example, then being a single freelancer might be a real selling point. But if your goal is to attract bigger, corporate clients, then you can use a distinctive company name to give your freelance business the feel of a larger organization. Using the right business name could help you catch a “big fish” in your freelance net.
2. Encourage future employees
Do you want to be a solopreneur forever, or are you planning to grow your team? The most talented professionals are more likely to stay in a business where they see an opportunity for serious career progression. If the business is named after you, then this could discourage ambitious employees from working with your company in the long term if they think there’s no space for them at the top.
Disadvantages of using a company name
1. Customers like small companies
While this isn’t true of everyone, many customers prefer to work with smaller companies where they believe they’ll be more valued. This is truer in the B2C (business to consumer) sector when businesses work directly with customers (as opposed to business to business). An abstract or unrelatable business name might scare off clients who aren’t part of a bigger enterprise. Think carefully about your target market and which customers you want to attract before choosing your naming strategy.
2. Creativity takes time
Finding the perfect company name can be tricky. There are countless possibilities, but the more time you spend thinking about a name the longer it’ll take to launch your freelance business. We’re not all creative enough to come up with a totally unique business name—that’s why most big brands employ a creative agency to take care of naming for them. There’s a reason why many companies are named after their founders—it saves you a lot of work!
When you’re starting out as a freelancer, coming up with a unique business name is often more work than it’s worth. All in all, I’d suggest going with your own name to give you complete flexibility as your business grows and develops. Company names can be useful if you want to work with bigger corporations, but often, these names also explain what the business is all about. That’s fine at the start, but one day you might want to change the direction of your business and do something different. If you go with a company name and decide to change your focus down the line, you’re more likely to have to rebrand and change it. That’s why I’d advise you trade under your own name, so you’ll always have the freedom to make changes in the future.
This post is brought to you by our friends at freelancermap.
As a pioneer of digital order procurement, freelancermap has specialized in clients and highly qualified freelancers in the IT and engineering industry. The company was founded in 2005, as an open marketplace and since then has grown into a reliable contact point for experts and contract projects. The annual freelancer compass is an extensive study by freelancermap that shows trends in the freelance market. Thomas Maas is the Managing Director of the Nuremberg.