with Aliza Sherman
If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.
To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website, www.mediaegg.com.
When I got married, I told my husband that I didn’t want to change my name for my professional work but that I’d use his name along with my name for my personal life (but NO hyphen). This was 2004, not the 1700s, so I felt that a combined last name was appropriate and acceptable. But I simply refused to give up my maiden name in my work. Why did I have to anyway?
Much to my surprise, my husband asked about taking my last name along with his.
“I never liked my middle name much,” he said then after I said what a great idea I thought it was, he called my dad to ask his permission to carry on the Sherman name. My dad - who only has two daughters - cried because he was so touched.
So my husband went through all the legal rigamarole to add my last name to his including putting an ad in a newspaper and going before a judge. By 2005, both of us had the legal last name of Sherman Risdahl.
Then my next book came out. I decided to use Aliza Risdahl for short.
And suddenly, my new book could not be found under a search for Aliza Sherman. Of course it couldn’t. What was I thinking? At the time, you couldn’t even find it on Amazon.com although since then I was able to get all of my books to be connected to any combination of my names.
Then there was email. People I had been doing business with over the years no longer were getting my emails because either their spam blocker grabbed them or they didn’t recognize Risdahl and trashed them without opening them.
Google wasn’t happy about my name change either. if you put in my new full name, all of the decades-worth of search results suddenly disappeared from view. It was as if taking my husband’s last name instantly wiped out 10 years of hard work to establish my name in my industry and to make my name easily findable online.
What do you do when you spend a decade building your brand and suddenly you change your brand name?
Even though fundamentally nothing else has changed in business, you are suddenly an unknown or at least an unfamiliar entity.
I was pretty upset by this situation, to say the least. While I love my husband and love being his wife and connected with him, he knew I was hard pressed to give up my career. Then again, he may have known it in theory, but in practice he didn’t really want to accept it. He acted disappointed each time he saw my maiden name in any business context, and I’d have to remind him why I was using it.
Of course, I wanted to please him, but I had also learned some hard lessons about always trying to please someone else and ignoring your own needs. That doesn’t work for anybody involved.
Over time, he mentioned my maiden name showing up in places less and less. I’m not sure if he has gotten used to it or simply gave up on the issue. He knows I love him, and I make a point to use his name or our double last name everywhere else and our daughter uses his name or our double last name as well.
Did you take your husband’s last name, add it to yours, hyphenate or keep your own? Why did you choose to do what you did?
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