I get a lot of questions that sometimes showcase more disappointment and discomfort at a certain stage of practice building than they are questions about a business name or a cranky landlord.

One issue that comes up a lot is what to do when someone has the same practice name as you. We’ve heard about this from clinicians down the street from each other with the same name and from people upset because someone across the country has the same name.

Unless you trademark your business name, this is a risk that comes with building a private practice. Trademarking your name isn’t common practice in our industry in case you’re freaking out right now and thinking you have to. It’s absolutely something you can do, but it’s not common practice like incorporating or using an accountant.

It’s frustrating to pour yourself into something and build your business and then realize you’ve got company and that that company might be confusing for potential clients. Particularly if Same Name Company is in the same area.

And it’s disappointing: you put in a lot of brainstorming and now it feels like that work didn’t matter or you’re in scramble mode thinking you have to get new business branding or logos or re-write your website, put jumper cables on your SEO and work 10 times harder to be buoyed past this name-stealer.

Here’s the deal– you can change your name or suggest that the other party changes theirs but if you focus on delivering excellent therapy, build relationships with your colleagues, have a web page that speaks directly to your ideal clients, then you’ll be fine even if you’re sharing the same building, too. If they’re doing all of that also, great! It’s unlikely that you have the same ideal client. Everybody who wants therapy should get it and one of you is likely a better fit for each person than the other.

Is it annoying? Absolutely. Is it disappointing? Totally. Especially if you’ve put a ton into getting your business known. Is it worth reading someone the riot act and ruminating over the fate of your business? No.

Unless you have proof it was willful and this person is trying to steal some of your thunder, assume it was a mistake. I promise there are only so many combinations of your city name or landmark, empowerment, growth, resilience, harmony, clinic, counseling, therapy, bloom, wise, wisdom, trust, hope, psychological services out there. I’m not saying these words to call anyone out. I’ve worked with at least 10 people that have used each of those in their business names. Probably more but I’m not going to count.

There are plenty of clients to go around. So many need and want help, and many of them need and want your help. Your job, aside from being a great therapist, is to help them find you. Don’t let this kind of disappointment derail you. Yes, you can change names if it feels that important. But change it fast and don’t put yourself through all the worry. Or you can keep it and your people will find you if you’re doing your job right.

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