Business name
Thread poster: oliver098

Local time: 10:23
English to French
Oct 27, 2006


I am hoping to work as a freelance translator and am looking into some of the practicalities.
For example - how important is it to spend time thinking about a striking business name? I only intend to work as a sole trader - at first anyway, it seems simpler - but is it better to come up with a more imaginitive name than just, for example, using your own surname plus translations or languages solutions etc? I thought of a couple of suitable words I could use in a name, then Googled and found one translation business for each using that word in their name. Would I be legally wrong to go ahead and use it anyway? (and should I do more than just a quick Google check anyway?). And once I have chosen my name do i need to protect it in any way, or just go ahead and use it? Thanks for any tips.


Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
English to German
+ ...
Imagine you would have to outsource a job.. Oct 27, 2006

..would you really care for their business names or rather zoom in on their profiles?



lexical  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:23
Portuguese to English
possible downside Oct 27, 2006

There is a possible downside to a business name that you may want to consider: if you are aiming to be a freelance and get much of your work from agencies rather than from direct clients (as I believe most of us do, although we might wish otherwise sometimes), the agencies may think you too are a translation agency and therefore a potential competitor. They also do not know if you are doing the work yourself of downsourcing it to God knows who.

I started off down the same route as you, thinking that a business name sounded more professional, but I had to field a lot of questions from agencies about my status before they would give me work. I found things improved tremendously when I reverted to my personal name plus the strapline "Freelance Translator". I suspect most Prozzers do the same, but it would be interesting to hear of any opposite experiences.

There is nothing to stop you using your personal name with a snappy strapline underneath, of course.


Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:23
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Legalities to consider Oct 27, 2006

Here in Italy if you operate under a business name, you have to register it and are considered a business, thereby subject to specific tax and legal requirements.
I just stuck with my name, people know it's me and that has created good working relationships with a "face".
I did run some names by friends at the begining and we realised there was also the risk of something that sounded cool in Italian being utter nonsense to an English speaker (and vice versa) or, worse still, sounding rude or ambiguous and impossible to pronounce/spell. Not worth it.
Good luck!


Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:23
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Don't give a wrong impression Oct 27, 2006

I agree with what lexical said - you might give a wrong impression when trading under a business name rather then simply your own name (ie. people might think you are an agency or a company rather then just a freelancer working on his own account). This could put off potential clients who for whatever reason want to give their work specifically to a freelancer working on their own.

From a legal point of view it doesn't make a difference in the UK. There is a field for 'Business Name' on the forms when registering as a freelancer - you can either leave the field blank or just fill in your first and last name (same applies to the tax return forms). To your state as a sole trader this won't make any difference.


Local time: 10:23
English to French
Thanks Oct 28, 2006

Thank you for the tips. So what you are saying is it's simplest not to use a business name at all - not even my surname plus Translations, which is what I was thinking of originally (although my name comes towards the end of the alphabet and I wondered if that was a downside at all)? Never mind looking at using other names.. Just use my full name plus Freelance Translator, so everyone is clear where they stand?

Just for information though, (if I did want to choose a business name other than my own) do you know if it is a problem if you use a name that is similar to another one that exists in the translation business, and are you meant to follow specific steps to check on it? And how similar does it have to be to be a problem?


Marion Schimmelpfennig  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:23
Member (2003)
English to German
Professional research required Oct 28, 2006

I have a naming company of my own and clients ask me these questions frequently, so here you go:

To determine whether a business name other than your name could lead to legal problems, you have to consider the following:

In which countries do you plan to operate? If your business name is identical or too similar to a company in one of these countries, these companies may sue you.

Being sued does not neccessarily mean that you loose, but it will cost time and money to determine the question or settle the fight.

Doing a professional research up-front is a must, but that also costs money. Searching the internet or domains is NOT enough. You will have to have brand registers and company registers researched, and only professionals can do that.

So all in all, I would go for your own name and maybe add a smart taglineicon_smile.gif


oliver098 wrote:

Just for information though, (if I did want to choose a business name other than my own) do you know if it is a problem if you use a name that is similar to another one that exists in the translation business, and are you meant to follow specific steps to check on it? And how similar does it have to be to be a problem?


Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:23
French to English
Passing off Oct 28, 2006

As you are in the UK, I think one of the issues that you seem to be anxious about is what's known as "passing off". So do some research on that, altho' it's a pretty vague area and never was the phrase "it depends" more germaneicon_smile.gif

Just don't even think about calling yerself "Easy..." anything, unless you enjoy hassle and confrontation, of courseicon_smile.gif

Altho', to be honest, as many here have said, if you really are a simple freelance self-employed one-man-show, I think just using your name is probably fine to start out with...


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