The worst advice I ever received about small business

When we first moved to the States (27 years ago!) we relied a lot on my brother and his wife who also lived in New Jersey. Joe had moved to the US in the 1970’s and had traveled extensively across the country – at one time or another he lived in Juno (Alaska), Springfield (IL) and Birmingham (AL). Safe to say he knew his way around.

When I first decided to go out on my own and start my own business I was torn with what to call the company. My first thought was to call it “Tully Marketing”. My brother was dead set against it “Makes you sound to small”, he said, “John Tully of Tully Marketing makes it sound as though you are the only employee”

William Shakespeare whats in a nameHe suggested I pick something more generic, less specific so people wouldn’t be able to determine how big or small the company was or exactly what it did, in case I needed to change my offerings.

So I picked Distributor Sales Management, which somewhat spoke to my business plan at the time but wasn’t too specific.

Within a year I realized the mistake I’d made:

  1. Distributor Sales Management was a long name, not particularly memorable and difficult to spell especially when strung together for an e-mail address ([email protected])
  2. People really had no idea what the company did and I’d spend precious time explaining the derivation of the name rather than what my business did
  3. It was clear that people really didn’t have a negative opinion of a small solo practitioner business – if you were the only employee, so what?

For every day use I shortened the name to dsm-llc which is generally easier to spell but still doesn’t give a good sense of what the company does.

So, 5 years into my business I’m exploring changing the company name to – you guessed it – Tully Marketing (or something similar).

Three morals to this story:

  1. Think long and hard about your company name before settling in on something you’ll have to live with for a while
  2. Big brother’s aren’t always your best resource for business advice
  3. Going with your first instincts is often the best way to go!

What was the worst advice you ever received about your small business? Or perhaps you are guilty of issuing bad advice – fess up below in the comments.

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