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Naming a New Business

Naming a New Business

Naming a New Business

I am in the early stages of setting up my own consulting business and I am struggling with, of all things, naming my new company.  Sounds like a simple task until you try to do it.  I was thinking about using my surname in the title but I was advised by a lawyer not to do this since it might make it easier to "pierce the corporate veil".  Of course this lawyer had his name and all of his partners names in the title of their firm. Regardless, I would be interested in hearing how some of you guys tackled this "simple" task since my original idea has apparently been thrown out the window.

RE: Naming a New Business


I don't own a company but my parent does. The name is an acronym of what the firm focuses on. While not overly descriptive unless you actually know what it means, it's easy to remember and is actually such that it makes up a word that sounds "technical".
I think your lawyer is right in a way, using last names as a name of the firm is a tradition in their practice, mainly, I think, because that's what they sell: themselves. (Please don't take this the MEAN way winky smile ). I'd try and make a company name somehow related to what the company does, or at least to the general industry they're in.

RE: Naming a New Business

The company I work for decided to rebrand itself with a new name (why ffs?) and hired management consultants to do the job. They thought of a name that had nothing to do with the product, wasn't an acronym of anything, and wasn't even the correct spelling of the word they intended to use. Still the consultants all got porsches out of it.

Save yourself some money and name your company after your cat/dog/goldfish. Rover has already been taken by the way.


RE: Naming a New Business

A couple of ideas here......if you are a professional engineer, in most states your company will have to have a cert. of authorization (more fees and paperwork) to register in each state. If your company name is "your name, P.E." or similar, then only you have to be registered instead of you AND your company.

As far as names, I started with a logo that was descriptive and went from there. Brainstorm, draw logos, put it on stationary and see how it looks. Then ask friends and family, etc. to do your own consumer study.

After that, do an internet search on all variations of your proposed name.  Think about what words your customers would use to search for you. You don't want the first thing to come up to be a gentlemen's club (unless that is the business you are starting).

Finally, make sure to search the business license site for your state / county and the trademark database to make sure someone hasn't already beat you to the name you want.


RE: Naming a New Business

If you are a PE then the majority of the reasons that you can be sued have nothing to do with your type of business organization--the PE is liable, not the company.  I looked at this and decided that (for a PE) the cost of incorporation was difficult to justify.  

My business is organized as a Sole Proprietership.  I was going to name it after myself but all of my friends and family thought that was boring.  One day a friend walked into my office with the intention of giving me grief about my company name and I looked over and saw a salted-up half muleshoe on my back table (it is a fitting that goes on the end of a string of tubing to be run in a gas well) and told him "the name will be MuleShoe Engineering".  

I've been asked where the name came from hundreds of times and been told it is a memorable story and a memorable name.  "Your Name, PE Engineering" is not memorable and no one will every ask why you picked it.  I would suggest looking for an object that is mainstream for the field you hope to work in, but is little known outside the field and has a colorful name.  That way insiders will get it and outsiders will ask questions like "Are you from Muleshoe, TX?" but will remember the conversation.  

If you'll look at my logo (on the link below) you'll see what a MuleShoe looks like.  I have that picture on my business card and a lot of people who know what it is don't get the connection to the name, but a lot do.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering
Please see FAQ731-376 for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips Fora.

The harder I work, the luckier I seem

RE: Naming a New Business

Simple and memorable.

RE: Naming a New Business

When I started my company, I had access to a search of all existing company names in my field, in the jurisdiction of my incorporation. I needed to avoid using an exisitng name, and to avoid trademark infringements, etc.

That gave me a lot of ideas while I was looking.

"Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater."   
Albert Einstein
Have you read FAQ731-376 to make the best use of Eng-Tips Forums?

RE: Naming a New Business

Some things to remember:

1. You can't trademark your surname as the business name.
  This can be an issue if there is another Smith out there and he/she is a terrible engineer.
2. If your name's generic, then it's also forgettable.
3. If you use email to communicate with clients, then make sure there's a web domain available that fits your name.


RE: Naming a New Business

Wow!  Great feedback everyone.  You have given me alot of great ideas.  My initial thought for using my last name is that it is unique and people tend to remember it.  I've had many occasions where I hadn't talked to customers for many years and then when I mention my last last name they repond with an emphatic "Oh, i remember you!".  I just thought I could take advantage of whatever recognition I might already have out there.  My alternative thought was to have a name descriptive of the area in which I work and the type of engineering I would be performing.  For example, "Mid-Atlantic Structural Engineering" or something to that effect.  It may be boring but it leaves little guess work as to what type of business this is.  Either way you have all given me some great food for thought as I head back to the drawing board.



RE: Naming a New Business

The tpye of business entity you create has everything to do with who will be sued.  The reason for incorporating in the United States is to limit liablity to the company not the individual.  This may not be the case if gross negligence is invloved.

E&O and G/L insurance is typically in the name of the company with supervising professional named as employees of that company.  You should talk to your lawyer about what corporate entity type protects you and your family the most and how to manage your corporate assets to limit liability in the case of a suit.  First and foremost, the proper E&O and G/L insurance amounts must be obtained (and Workers Comp if you have employees).  

If the work was or is completed under the corporation then the business entity will be liable, not the individual in MOST cases.  Therefore it doesn't matter what you name your firm as long as it is registered, properly licensed and insured in the correct amounts.

If a laywer files a suit he's going to know who the supervising professional of record is wheather the surname is used in the compay name or not.  I say, use your surname if you prefer (but I may be partial).  Good luck.

Matthew R. Harmon, P.E.
Harmon Engineering, LLC

RE: Naming a New Business

I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.  I consulted both an attorney and an accountant before starting my company and of course I am insured up to my ears.

The discussion was very specific to the states where I'm licensed and the more I learned, the less value I saw to the more complex organizations.  While incorporation, LLC, or Sub-Chapter "S" organizations will generally protect the officers of the company against personal liability for most things done in the name of the company there was no way to distance the actions of a PE from the PE's own finances.  In fact for lawsuits against PE's my attorney said that they sue the PE for whatever and then sue the company for hiring him.  Two separate actions that definately enrich lawyers more than anyone else.

Bottom line is that if you get legal advice from eng-tips.com (for god's sake) you are an idiot.  The best you'll get here is some engineer's intrepretaion of a conversation with an attorney that will not be perfectly remembered nor will it be exactly parallel to your question.  Maybe Tecumsa should start Attorney-At-Law.com?


RE: Naming a New Business

For an exhorbitant licensing fee, I will let you name your business after me.

RE: Naming a New Business

I thought the OP was advise on naming a business?

I think the name is sometimes not as "memorable" as the logo. For example, IBM. Not a great name, but memorable logo with the powder blue letters and white horizontal lines through it. Also, Lucent with the big red brush "O".

So, maybe Atlantic Structural is kind of dull, but a cool logo may make up for it. It'll also look good on the golf shirts you give away as swag.

Let me know what name you settle on, if you will. I'm curious now.

"Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater."   
Albert Einstein
Have you read FAQ731-376 to make the best use of Eng-Tips Forums?

RE: Naming a New Business


You are right on both counts.

I agree that a good logo is very important.  People will be more willing to wear the swag if it has a well designed graphic.  I'm hoping I can create one as nice as the one I had.  I may need to enlist the help of my graphic artist buddy.

I will let you know the name I decide upon if I can ever find one.  I came up with 6 ideas last night all of which have already been taken in some similar form.  I'm almost going to need to come up with an abstract name just to avoid infringing on someone elses company title.

Keep you posted.

RE: Naming a New Business

As a student, I worked part time for a company named Anilam Electronics.

Anilam was the founders surname spelled backwards.

They specialized in retrofit CNC controls.

The company was founded in a Hialeah FL garage some 25 yrs befor I got there.

RE: Naming a New Business

Like Harpo?  smile

RE: Naming a New Business

waytsh wrote, "I was thinking about using my surname in the title but I was advised by a lawyer not to do this since it might make it easier to 'pierce the corporate veil'."

There is no corporate veil to pierce if you're not a corporation, and it would offer little protection to the principal employee of a corporation providing consulting services.

Rob Campbell, PE
Finite Monkeys - www.livejournal.com/users/robcampbell

RE: Naming a New Business

When I was looking into naming my business I used these free word creators I found on the web. Depending on what one you choose gives you a different outcome.

Go Here: http://www.wordlab.com/tools/t_index.cfm

Best Regards,

Challenges are what makes life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.

Solidworks 2006 SP0.0

RE: Naming a New Business

I think "Big Thumb Engineering" sounds good...

Go ahead and use it.



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