Why changing your name could be bad for business

Reported by Kate Toon, Flying Solo
Thursday, April 11, 2013

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Female soloists planning to take their husband’s name after their nuptials really need to stop and think. Dropping your maiden name could have a significant effect on your business.

This post is NOT just for women. It’s also for anyone planning on marrying a female soloist, or who has a soloist sister, daughter or friend.

Okay, let’s talk about pros. Changing your name is a tradition, and it’s nice to share a family name with your partner and your offspring. And if your last name is something embarrassing like ‘Titts’ or ‘Buttwangle’, or an impossible-to-spell ten-syllable nightmare, changing it to ‘Smith’ might be a welcome relief.

But – and it’s a big but – changing your name is bad for business. Here’s why:

The cost: You’ll need to update your business cards and any other printed material.

The time: Think of the hours you’ll spend updating your:

  • Website (let’s hope you don’t have an eponymous domain name like me)
  • Social media profiles (Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Youtube etc.)*
  • Directory listings
  • Forum profiles
  • Gravatar details

  • The hassle: You’ll have to change your bank account, credit card, driver’s licence, Medicare card and a host of other government and finance-related records.

    The loss of reputation: According to a study in the Netherlands, clients will take women who change their name less seriously.

    Participants thought that a hypothetical woman who took her husband’s surname was “more caring, more dependent, less intelligent, more emotional, less competent, and less ambitious in comparison with a woman who kept her own name.”

    The loss of Author Rank: At the moment there’s no way to link one name to another in your Google+ profile, so Google may not recognise articles written under your old name as yours.

    The decline in search-engine ranking: Whatever juice you’ve built up for your maiden name will slowly decline, and it may take several months for your new name to rank.

    It’s also possible that any professional achievements, awards and accreditations listed under your birth name might be lost in the transition.

    Then there’s the fact that changing your name is a little archaic. It’s a throwback to the days when women were literally chattels exchanged between father and future husband as they would a bale of hay or a goat. And, without wanting to get all “doom and gloom” about it, what if you get divorced down the track? You may have to do the whole process again in reverse.

    You can try a half-and-half approach such as:

  • Keeping your professional name, and just changing your name for personal bits and bobs
  • Using both names (i.e. Mrs Jones (nee Buttwangle))
  • But both options can lead to customer confusion, especially as so much personal information is shared in the professional world these days.

    Now you might think this name-changing hassle is totally worth it, and of course that’s your choice.

    But before you get all romantic about taking your husband’s name, remember this: your wedding is just one day.

    But your name lasts a long, long time.

    *Also be aware that Facebook business pages make it tricky to change the name of your page if you have more than 100 fans, and you may have to start from scratch.

    Did you change your name when you got married? Was it an easy transition? What challenges did you face?

    To comment on this article by Kate Toon, head here.

    Run your own business? You’ll love Australia's community for solo and micro business owners. Get small business advice and earn cash by joining their research panel at microbusinessresearch.com.au

    24/04/2014 12:03Sydney, Australia. 24 April,2014
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