Ask Steve

Ask Steve: How Specific (and Personal) Should I be in Naming my Company?

Cleaning VanHi Steve,

My wife and I in the throes of getting our cleaning business set up, including the agonizing “choosing of our business name” issue. We were all set to include the words “carpet cleaning” and the name of our town or maybe just put either my first name (Charlie) or our last name and the words “carpet cleaning” after it.

But some of your earlier “Ask Steve” advice to others has me all excited about eventually moving into the big profits of insurance restoration. So I’m concerned I would be restricting myself with the words “carpet cleaning” in the business name.

Also, my wife is concerned about having the business named after us. She says it might be harder for us to sell our business down the road. So tell us your thoughts, Steve, and hopefully you can bring peace back into our marriage!

-Conflicted Charlie in California


Wow, Conflicted. We don’t want your marriage being affected by all this start-up stress! (Even though it inevitably will be!) So let’s focus on your wife’s concerns first about using a personal name in your business. And the answer is…

It all depends! I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear! But seriously, there isn’t a single best answer for everything.

But here are a few observations…

1. Begin with the end in mind: Try and “think big- think long.” Sure, I know right now you may just want to pay the rent or buy groceries with your business income! But as your company grows (and hopefully prospers) where do you want it to go? This will affect your naming of it now.

For example, if you even remotely think you will want to offer restoration, don’t limit your future plans by including the words “carpet cleaning” in your business name. There are so many other services you might want to offer down the road. On the other hand…

2. Don’t be too general either: For example, I’m not real fond of names like “California Services, Inc.” I mean, what does that say to your prospect about what you do/offer? So it would probably be good to include the phrase “cleaning and restoration” in your name. Or when you start offering restoration it would be fairly simple to rebrand your business by tagging on “restoration” at the end of your company name. Now on using your personal name, ask yourself once again…

3. Where do you want to go? This is pretty important. If you are sure you want to stay small and always be on the truck, then sure, go ahead and put your personal name up there! But sooner or later most people want to “get off the truck” which eventually leads to “I want (need) to sell my business.” And as much as I like the name “Charlie,” all things being equal a less personal business name will appeal to more buyers.

4. Consider introducing emotions into your business name: Simply put, people make buying decisions emotionally. How customers feel about your company (and business name) is especially important when you are marketing your services.

NOTE: Download our free SFS Special Report “Hub Marketing: Breaking Down Barriers” HERE for lots more ideas or just write me at and I’ll e-mail you the report - no charge!

So consider incorporating emotional words like “clean,” “fresh,” “sparkling,” “lustrous,” “bright,” “fresh,” “beautiful,” “healthy,” or my favorite, “superb” into your name.

Remember too that you can use these words in your tagline (i.e., a descriptive phrase that you consistently run behind your business name). For example, my tag line was “Superb carpet, upholstery and drapery cleaning.” Both descriptive and emotional!

Let us know what you decide, Conflicted, and then we’ll focus on the much more important task of making your phone ring all the time!

 Steve and ICS want to consult for you! For a personal reply write Steve HERE with your questions, problems, struggles and challenges! Your help is on the way! A new “Ask Steve” premieres in the ICS eNewsletter every Thursday. Register to receive it by clicking here

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