How Using Your Own Name For Your Firm Can Go Wrong

When consultants ask me about using their own name for their firm, my first reaction is to ask a few questions, like:

What’s your ultimate vision for the company?

Does it include hiring other people (beyond say a VA) to serve clients?

Do you have an exit strategy that includes a sale at some point?

Usually, if you plan to use other people—even as contractors—you’re better off NOT using your own name.

But if you decide to do it anyway, you want to be highly transparent so your clients know when they’ll get you vs. a colleague.

Case in point: my electrician uses his name for his business: “Joe Smith Electric”. I used him twice to test him out before contracting for a tricky lighting installation.

Never did I see even a helper, much less any evidence he hired contractors.

So imagine my surprise when I opened the door at the appointed time to someone who was not “Joe”. So yes, I sent him away and rescheduled for Joe.

But Joe completely missed the chance to socialize the idea of my using his contractor—which would have saved him time AND built more leverage for his business. (For this job I’d have said no, but probably yes on a more routine thing if it meant I’d get it fixed faster.)

The thing is, Joe didn’t quite get why having a strange guy show up on our doorstep was off-putting.

“But I’m ultimately responsible for the work” he said.

Sure, but if it’s not right, they’re sawing more giant holes in the drywall that I must have fixed, not to mention my time to deal with possible errors from a junior guy.

Easy fix? 100% transparency and give your clients a say in the process (or find new clients who don’t care as much).

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