I've been asked a number of times over the years why I chose to run my business under a limited company, specifically Left Logic instead of running the business under my own name – since, for the majority, hiring Left Logic is hiring Remy Sharp. So I thought it would be useful to post it here (partly for me, partly for you).
This post is definitely rambly, so the short version is:
- There's a bit more gravitas attached to a name of a company over an individuals' name
- Using my own name didn't make sense if I wanted to have employees
- I wanted a limited company that would partly protect me from liability of catastrophic failure, but also to simplify my tax processing
- Selling or handing the business over to another entity feels weird if it were my name
If you're interested in the inner workings of my head, read on dear visitor…
Sole trader vs. limited company
This question is going to be slightly different depending on your own country, but I imagine the idea of a limited company is universal. The main difference (to me) is that as a limited company has limited liability (when the shit hits the fan). In theory, if things go wrong, the home that I own with Julie (or hope to own one day) isn't a potential source for funds to the company.
It's not as cut and dry as that, but having a limited company allowed me to separate my business affairs with my personal affairs (usually things like purchases, renting of property and so on). As a sole trader, I'd collect money from my clients, and pay taxes in a different way at the end of the year.
For my own business, I have a separate bank account for business and personal, and if I'm having a business meeting, I'll use my business card, and not rely on my personal bank card to avoid the potential mess of personal expense claims.
I had heard first hand that some potential clients won't work with non-limited companies. Though the delivered product is no different, I imagine the liability of working with a limited company benefits the client (somehow?). Though I imagine that sole traders would have insurance, but this was always something I figured would be easier to just set up a limited company and avoid any potential awkward situations.
Perceptions of one
During the weeks preceding the creation of my company I was brainstorming some ideas for a company name. I've got the original scrap of paper somewhere, but I ended up settling on two potential names:
- left logic
Although I didn't seriously consider "Remy Sharp Ltd", remitech was effectively the same thing.
The impression that remitech gives is that it's Remy you're hiring. Not a company, not a team, just a single person. Which, is not inherently bad (although arguably the name remitech was pretty bad!), but it did mean that it wouldn't allow for any growth in perception.
My original plans were always to grow my business into a very small team (I got hung up on 6 people but never made it), but under the name remitech, a potential client might expect a single individual behind the company and not a small crack team of developers. I didn't want this to hamper that impression with a name tied to me.
Top dogs 👎
I'm not a fan of top dogs, and hero worship in any industry or working place. Julie (my IRL partner) works for Left Logic as an equal to me focusing on running events for companies and running logistics in Left Logic. It makes me cringe to think that they might work for Remy Sharp Ltd.
By having my name on the company (to me) it gives the impression of importance, and I don't want that in my own working environment. My company has grown and decreased over the years, and I've had a number of employees over time all of which had their own individual strengths. When I think of other companies I've known of that ran under an individuals' name, I always imagine (perhaps unfairly) that this particular individual was the cream of their crop.
By having my name on the company (to me) it gives the impression of importance, and I don't want that in my own working environment. My company has grown and decreased over the years, and I've had a number of employees over time all of which had their own individual strengths. When I think of other companies I've known of that ran under an individuals' name, I always imagine (perhaps unfairly) that this particular individual was the cream of their crop and everyone else was an underling…otherwise wouldn't the underling's name be on the letter head?!
The reality of work acquisition
The actual reality, due to my own poor marketing techniques, is that most people I work amongst and work for, don't know about Left Logic. They know me through my blog, or my open source work, or through speaking (though those days have dwindled some what).
I've come to accept this isn't so bad, and certainly there's more I can do to promote my business, but whilst we're a business of two individuals (at time of writing) there's no urgency to do any over the top marketing the name Left Logic. To be honest, many of my peers don't even know what I do, let along that I trade under Left Logic!!!
Side note: name
The name, Left Logic, is based on properties that I wanted to include. I'm left handed, but also I consider myself a logic individual who uses logic to solve problems (well…yeah, like most developers I guess!). Also, the left side of the brain is responsible for logic and problem solving. Almost as importantly, the dot-com domain was available and it was easy to say to another person (I created the company during the time we saw a slew of incorrectly spelt dot-coms launching…like flicker, without the 'e'!).
So Left Logic secretly hides some traits I find important, so it has meaning to me without particularly having to mention me directly.