Starting a Private Practice: Choosing a Name

The name of your business or private practice is an important part of your brand which you will be working to grow as your career advances. Renaming your private practice will require you to spend time and other resources to redirect marketing efforts to your new name. Having the right name from the start will reduce the risk of possible disruptions to the growth and progress of your practice and brand.

It isn’t uncommon for business owners to change the name of their business after some time. As people grow with their business, they may gain insight and perspective that they didn’t have at the onset. Or simply, their business may undergo a significant change that renders its current name unsuitable. For example, a location-based name such as ‘Vancouver ABC Company’ may no longer make sense for a business that’s been relocated to Kelowna.

A good name will be both memorable and easy to spell. Avoid long and confusing names. Think of how easily the name of your practice can be understood over the phone and how quickly it can be searched for on a handheld device. Also, conduct a thorough search to make sure the name you are considering isn’t similar to that of an existing practice (at least in the region where you will be offering your services). Having a name that is similar to another practice can create confusion for those searching for you and could risk directing your potential clients elsewhere.

Take your time and select a name that works well today, but also provides flexibility for possible changes in the future. Consider the following:

  • What will your practice look like in the future?
  • Is relocation (or multiple locations) a possibility?
  • Will other counsellors be joining your practice?
  • Will you ever consider selling your practice?

It’s ok if you don’t have a clear vision of what your practice will look like in the future. In this case, a helpful exercise would be to list a number of possible directions you might take. Perhaps, observe the career paths of some of your more experienced peers.

A name based on a location or a landmark can help tie your private practice to a specific geographical area or community. This can be useful as you advertise your services through various marketing channels such as Google Ads. However, keep in mind that a location-based name may not be suitable if you decide to relocate your office or open multiple branches.

If the expansion or sale of your private practice is a possibility, you should consider a name that is less personal.  

Should you use your own name?

You may choose to run your private practice under your personal name. Although this is commonly done, it may not always be the ideal choice.

So, when does it make sense to use your own name and when to pick a new name?

Using your own name:

  • When building a brand around your name.  
  • May be helpful if you’re creating content that you’d like to have attached to your name.
  • Easily recognizable.  Could make it easier for clients to find you on the internet.

Using a new business name:

  • Works well if you decide to add other practitioners to the practice.
  • If you think you’ll want to step away from the practice and not be involved directly.
  • If you decide to sell your practice.

Choosing a name for your private practice is a personal and creative affair. The name of your practice is one of the first things potential clients learn about you. In other words, it is one of the first opportunities you have to communicate with your potential clients. Think about what you want them to know about your practice and the services you offer. The right name can also help evoke an emotional response (eg. happy, hopeful, etc), if that’s something you’d like to convey. Whatever you decide, it will be an integral part of your brand and will serve as the name under which you conduct business.

Once you’ve decided what to call your private practice, you will need to take steps to reserve and register it.  We will explain how in our upcoming installment.