As a new entrepreneur it’s easy to stress when it comes to picking out a web design business name. I’ve got 5 things that happen when you change your business name and how pivoting your business can actually help it grow.
One of the most popular blog posts on my website right now is the post all about how to name your web design business. When I wrote that post, it wasn’t too long after I had changed my web design business name. After changing my business name I realized that too much emphasis is put on choosing the perfect name to represent your business when you’re just starting out.
It’s like choosing a major before you even get into college. You’re 17 or 18 years old and only know what you’ve been taught in school and by life lessons. How are we expected at age 17 to choose a major that will define the career path we’ll go down for the rest of our lives? With only 17 years of experience we’re expected to make a decision that impacts that next 40 or 50 years of our lives. Crazy, right?
As a new entrepreneur who knows basically nothing about running a business, how are you supposed to choose a business name that reflects the path your business will take for the next however many years? With zero years experience as a business owner, are you expected to make a decision that impacts the next 5, 10, 25, or 50 years of your life as a business owner? Simply put: you’re not.
In my blog post all about naming your web design business, I talk a lot about why it’s okay to change your business name after you’ve gotten started. But what I don’t talk about in that post is what happens after you change your business name. And there’s a reason for that. At the time, I had no idea what type of implications would come from changing my business name. But now I do.
That’s what I’m sharing with you today. What I explain below are things that I personally experienced. It doesn’t mean that everyone who changes their business name will experience the same things but it gives you an idea of what to be prepared for if you do go through a name change.
Why I Changed My Business Name
When I first started my business in 2017 the only thing I was positive about was that I wanted to quit the 9-5 corporate life forever. I didn’t know what type of business I wanted to start and I didn’t even know if I had the skills to start an online business. As the years went on, my focus became more clear and I started to understand what type of services really interested me. I went from owning a virtual assistant business to offering just branding and web design for female entrepreneurs.
My virtual assistant business was called Meraki Leigh Digital. Here’s a breakdown of what it meant:
Meraki = a greek word for putting your whole heart and soul into what you’re doing
Leigh = my middle name
Digital = an open ended business name ending that would allow me to offer any type of digital service (email marketing, web design, social media management, inbox management, and anything else that falls under a VA job description)
At the time, this business name was perfect for me. Until I started to land clients… that’s when I realized a majority of people couldn’t pronounce “meraki” correctly. While it was frustrating, it wasn’t a big enough reason to change my business name. But combining that reason with my new desire to ditch all things VA and focus just on web design, changing my business name became a necessity.
While my life certainly would have been easier and growing my business would have been easier as well if I just skipped the whole VA period and went straight to being a web design studio. It was a learning experience for me that now lets me share with you exactly what you can expect if you’re going through the same changes I did.
(If you’re totally new to being a business owner, have a desire to focus just on web design but are unsure if you should go the VA route instead – I encourage you to watch our free How to Start a Web Design Business workshop before making that decision. Niching down from the start makes your journey of becoming a successful business owner much easier!)
What Happened When I Changed My Business Name
Here are 5 things that happened when I changed my business name.
My URL Redirects Failed
My domains are all purchased through GoDaddy but my original website was hosted on Squarespace and my new website was hosted on Siteground. This didn’t seem like a big deal because GoDaddy has a feature that allows you to redirect any domain you own to another domain you own. Unfortunately for me, at the time, this feature wasn’t working whatsoever. (Full disclosure: I have no idea if this feature has been fixed since then.)
Instead of using that feature, my SEO specialist set up redirects through Google Search Console. The redirects were all set up correctly but unknown to me, they all broke the second I cancelled my Squarespace subscription. Since the website no longer existed, the URLs wouldn’t redirect to my new domain URLs. This wouldn’t have been an issue if GoDaddy’s redirect feature was working correctly.
At this point, I had a choice to make.
- Resubscribe to Squarespace just so my redirects would work
- Bite the bullet and have links out there on the interwebs go to broken pages
I chose option two. Paying for a Squarespace subscription just so my redirects would work seemed silly to me since at the time I had maybe 4 or 5 blog posts on my website and my traffic was minimal. If I would have had over a hundred blog posts like I do now, I definitely would have paid for the Squarespace subscription again. Instead, I tried to locate the links that were out there on the internet (Pinterest, Facebook, etc.) and deleted them or updated them manually.
The SEO of My Website Tanked
Since my redirects weren’t working, I basically created a brand new website that needed to be newly recognized by search engines. Any authority my previous website had built (which was pretty minimal since I wasn’t blogging consistently) was lost. I was starting from scratch once again.
PEOPLE RECOGNIZED ME HOW I WANTED THEM TO
As time goes on, your confidence as a business owner increases. For me, I didn’t see myself as a Melyssa Griffin or Marie Forleo who could confidently name my business after myself. I wasn’t a coach… so why would I name my business Kristen Leigh Digital? It didn’t feel right to me. I was basically trying to separate myself from my business.
But after a year, I realized that I am the business owner. I’m the one putting in the work, the time, the effort, and I didn’t really have any desire to build an agency. So why wasn’t my business named after me? Why weren’t people recognizing me when I am the expert?
Changing my business name to Kristen Leigh Designs was all it took for people to recognize me as an expert. Instead of working with a “business” people were working with a “person.” That felt more aligned with where I currently was at in my business at the beginning of 2019 when I rebranded.
Fun fact: I rebranded again early 2020 and dropped “designs” from my business name. We are now Kristen Leigh, LLC – Kristen Leigh for short!
Landing Clients Was Easier
This was something I wasn’t expecting. Up until late 2018, I really struggled with consistently landing web design clients. After changing my business name and business focus to solely web design, I made $30,000 in just 6 months from new web design clients.
Did I do a lot of other stuff, like marketing, to help me land clients? Yes! Obviously. But that marketing became easier because I was more focused and felt more aligned with my business. The easier it is to create marketing materials, the easier it is to create a marketing plan. And once a marketing plan has been implemented into your business… Well, landing clients becomes so much easier, too!
Pivoting My Business Was Easier
At the end of 2019 I felt a desire to help business owners shift from their corporate jobs into web design business owners. In order to add that income stream to my business I didn’t have to change my business name again but it felt right to do. That’s why Kristen Leigh Designs changed to Kristen Leigh.
We no longer offer branding and web design for female entrepreneurs unless it’s a special scenario and we feel super aligned with the company and their mission so having “designs” tacked to the end of the business name didn’t feel accurate of where the company is headed.
The cool thing about having changed my business name to my actual name was that changing it again to drop “designs” was so easy. I was able to easily pivot my business without having to totally rebrand our website, social media, emails, etc.
The new business name of Kristen Leigh is all encompassing and allows the business to grow in any direction that we see fit.
Need Help Naming Your Web Design Business?
Now that you know what happened to me, my website, and Kristen Leigh as a whole you may be wondering how to name your own web design business without having to make changes in the future. Make sure you head on over to this blog post all about naming your web design business. But remember, it’s okay to change your business name as you grow as a business owner. That’s one of the perks of working for yourself – you can shift, pivot, and make changes whenever the hell you want!