It's All In The Name
I once knew a dentist named Dr. Payne. It wasn't my dentist, of course. Dentists are scary enough without adding the mental anguish that would surely come with gambling on the last name of Payne. What was he thinking? Of all the careers he could have chosen, he chose the one that most defied his name.
With a last name like Payne, he would've made an awesome CIA interrogator, wouldn't he? I mean, just his name would elicit information from the most tight-lipped criminal. As a dentist, wouldn't his business card have to have a disclaimer: "Dr. Payne, D.D.S., I won't hurt you. really!"
My husband thinks that I should have started an accounting business just because I can find my way around QuickBooks. My horror was reflected in my eyes when I looked at him and said, "I only took 2 semesters of accounting in college; what would I call my business? Best Guess Accounting? Approximately Accurate Accounting? I know: I could just brush up by reading Accounting For Dummies and then I'd surely qualify for CFO of Microsoft. We'll make millions!. Are you out of your mind?"
People expect that the name for your business will reflect the kind of business you have, be that good or bad. I'm reminded of an old Three Stooges episode - I'm dating myself, here (That means I'm old, not a narcissist) - where Curly, Larry & Moe were attorneys named Duey, Cheatem & Howe. Perhaps that is where the trend for bad business names started.
Does a person really name their electrical contracting business Short's Electric just because their last name is Short? How is anyone else supposed to know that Short is their last name and not just a bad combination of crossed wires that results in fried appliances? It seems like that would be the last word you'd want associated with your electrical contracting business. This is just another example of a brave soul who went into a business in spite of his last name. Why didn't he become a plumber?
When I was growing up, I knew a Catholic Priest named Father Deville. Scared me to death! I was in second grade and I read his name before I heard it pronounced. In second grade, you can barely read the easy words. I got the silent "e" right, but I would have saved myself a lot of grief had I been able to pronounce the word in a way that sounded like something other than the Lord of the Underworld. That last name would've worked in almost any other field, but as a kid, I was convinced that Father Deville was a spy for the other side... and nobody knew except me.
There was an Asian guy who was a neighbor of mine years ago. His last name was Mei (pronounced Me). Now with a last name like that, his parents really needed to be careful because, depending on what his first name was, they could've caused all kinds of trouble for him. So they carefully picked out an unaggressive, but noble first name: William. William grew up and promptly complicated his life by shortening his name to Bill Mei. Bill has gone bankrupt four times and lives in abject poverty with his parents and has an obsessive desire to off the postal worker who stuffs his mailbox with bills.
Just kidding. I don't know what Bill is doing now, I just have a good imagination. Good thing his parents didn't name him Killean.
So, yeah, names mean a great deal, especially with respect to your profession. Names define you to a certain extent. That's why wrestlers and boxers rename themselves: The Rock, Stone Cold, The Undertaker. Nobody would take Irwin "The Big Meany" Smith seriously.
Imagine a banker named Ima Crook. Imagine anybody named Ima Crook. That person would be doing 30 years to life eventually. You can only say Ima Crook so many times before you start believing it. The last name Rich, however, is a gold mine. I.M. Rich; I. Wilby Rich; and even the first name Filth would be good if E. was his middle initial. If your first name was Rich, you could introduce yourself to fame and fortune: "Hi, I'm Rich."
If you have choice in the naming of your own business, I hope that you will put more than a moment's worth of thought into it. Not like the owners of a store I once saw. There was a sign on a bakery in a quaint little town in the mountains. It read: Ye Olde Bakery Goods. If this was the winning name, just how bad were the other contenders?
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more info.