The problem is that the business is the business owner. Not in the sense of a sole-trader, although it is inevitably true in that case. But larger owner-operated businesses employing several people also revolve too much around the owner.
In marketing we try to find a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) or whatever the vogue terminology is at any given time. And for many small businesses that USP is the business owner. In fact it is often a matter of pride that the business is the business owner. “Customers buy because of me”, says many a business owner, and often they’re right.
I even heard a marketing consultant advise recently that they should name their business after themselves because “people buy from people”. [By the way, given that is true, why do people spend so much money with Amazon?]
The problem is the attitude and mindset that it cultivates within the business owner when the business has their name. It reinforces in their mind that the business is them. What starts out as a matter of pride that they are good at what they do and so their reputation will sell, becomes self-limiting. And it’s hard to disconnect themselves from the day-to day of the business, which they must do if they ever want to own more than just a job.
To own a business it must work without you. So, for sure, start it based on your reputation, but don’t let it stop there or it will stagnate and never grow beyond you.
Instead of giving your business your good name, give it your good values. After all it’s not really your name that people are buying into, it’s what that name, and you, stand for…
You see, building your business reputation and USP around what you stand for is not just appealing to customers. It is also engaging and enrolling to your team.
And then, since your business is no longer mainly about you (but what you and your team believe in) your mindset can shift naturally to building a business that works without you and is bigger than you.
Now that sounds like a legacy to be proud of regardless of what it’s called…