If there was one thing I would have done differently in starting my private practice, it would have been to pick a different name. Seems silly and maybe a bit vain, but with growth, these are some of the things you look back on, your starting points, and realize that there were areas you could have done better.
Knowing what I know now, I want to share with you how to name your private practice.
Which name are we talking about?
For some of you, you will have two names – your entity name and a DBA (doing business as). This varies from state to state, so please seek legal consultation regarding this.
For example, in the state of California, your corporation must be your full name and licensure, fully spelled out. However, you can get a DBA under which your counseling center operates. Thus you could have two names.
So for when I speak of what name to choose, I am referring to the name you will use for marketing purposes. Whether or not that is the name of your entity or simply a DBA depends on your government regulations.
What’s in a name?
Your name is your brand. It is the name by which others find you and remember you. It sets the stage.
Now when we picked the name ZynnyMe, Inc., it was a fun, silly name that just stuck with us. However, I get tired of giving out my email to people and having to say Z-as in zebra, Y- as in Yack, N- as in Nancy, N- as in Nancy, Y- as in Yack, M-as in Mary E-as in elephant . com.
Which brings me to the first point, pick a name you can easily spell. I literally recommend typing out the name and seeing if you have spelling errors or if it was difficult. Also, pay attention to how it looks. That’s why the top worst website names mostly include the title therapist because in a domain name it looks like the-rapist.
Secondly, it’s best to have a name that conveys your type of business. For all the frustration with spelling ZynnyMe, it is a great conversation started. But we switched this past year to focusing on Kelly + Miranda with the tag line, Private Practice Experts. That says a lot more than ZynnyMe.
Your name doesn’t necessarily have to say counseling or therapy. You can pick a value and then use a tag line to clarify your type of business. Below I have a free download where you can work on names for your practice, but here is an example:
The Quiet Place – Brain Calming Counseling
When should you use your name?
In my opinion, use your name when you want to be the brand. Maybe you will have other kinds of services beyond counseling, for example speaking and writing. Even then you don’t have to do use your name for marketing, but if you are going to be the next Oprah, then it is something to consider.
I also recommend owning your name as a domain name. Even if you don’t use it, you just never know where your business might take you, so be prepared. Which brings me to my final point.
So why do I wish I had done this differently?
I didn’t plan for growth.
When I started my private practice, I was thinking small. Looking back knowing what I know now, that is easy to say. I need to be a bit more compassionate. My dream was to leave the county. That was the goal and I didn’t think much beyond it.
I did know I did not want to supervise clinicians, but I hadn’t considered other types of growth, multiple locations, programs, or even selling the practice.
For example, I own counselinglagunahills.com. Which has been awesome for my findability in the area. However, if I wanted to expand a counseling center on the other side of my county, it wouldn’t work. Just something to consider when picking a name.
It’s not impossible when everything is under your name, it just makes it more complicated when the value of your business is founded on you. So if in the future you would ever like to add clinicians in your practice, think of what you want your center to be known for and go with a name that is reflective of that. If you would like to sell your practice one day or have the ability to sell it, set up the legal structure properly and then brand that entity to make it viable to grow or sell.
And if you have a name you wish you didn’t have, you can change it. It just takes time and some planning to gently switch your followers over. If you have the opportunity to start out with a name that works best for you, then I wish you the best and would love to hear what you decided upon.
*Please also note, you want to adhere to the advertising regulations of your board. You may still have to put your name and license on materials with the addition of your business name. Check before you choose your name.