Should I use a business name or my real name? Is “it depends” a good answer? It depends on your goals and aspirations for the endeavor. There is no consensus on which is strictly correct. You can find reasoned and cogent arguments both for and against using your name. Two schools of thought have developed.
The first is the “More Options” argument. If you use a nom de plume you have more flexibility and possibilities. Can you imagine hiring additional employees, expanding, or selling the business at some point? Then a company name has more value. One of strongest arguments for a business name is that is easier to brand. Unless you are already established under your personal name, there is no connotation or reputation attached to it. When you create a name you can control the message. There is also value in distancing your business from your personal life in the case of some unexpected legal or unforeseen circumstances that could permanently damage your name.
You Be You
The second major argument revolves around “You Be You” and the notion that interpersonal connections are the basis for any strong business. Jessica Hische shares these thoughts:
“When I graduated, everyone wanted to set up a studio under a different name than their own. They wanted to be treated as an agency rather than an individual. This is really useful if the kind of clients you want to attract are the kind that want an agency behind the work, but for me it became really important that people know me before they hired me. It can be really hard to develop a relationship with a client to the point that you don’t question each other’s feedback and know that you’re not being made to run around a hamster wheel to please some cost-analysis person behind the scenes. I think putting myself out there has helped clients feel like they know me before they make first contact, and maybe made them more likely to contact me over someone with similar work but less transparent of a personality.”
What If Still Can’t Decide?
If you do your due diligence and still can’t decide then you should go with your gut. Are you comfortable being the face of the business all the time, or do you like the idea of a business name providing a little cover? Pick the one that makes you happy. It will give you the best chance to be successful.
One last thought. Your name being hard to spell or pronounce is not reason enough to use a business name. In fact, I’d argue the opposite, people may get it wrong but they won’t forget it.