I’m a former management consultant and for the past year have been busy with numerous engagements for corporate clients on my own accord. In this, I also draw on the efforts of vendors and peers. I never created an LLC nor updated my resume or LinkedIn profile. I’m now considering a move to corporate management (as an employee) and need to update my resume. Listing “independent consultant” on my resume seems weak. Is it acceptable to simply create a company name and list myself as “principal” on my resume?
I think you shouldn't make up a company name, especially if yourself actually never presented you as such to your actual customers, for several reasons.
First, this causes confusion. If potential employers / other customers want to do some background checking, they will try to refer you with the company name, and this could lead to "XYZ company ? no, we never worked with them, it must be a mistake". If the confusion is not cleared out, the potential employer could even see you as a liar.
Secondly, there is also a risk of inadvertently using an already existing company name, creating even more confusion (and even, depending on countries, a legal issue).
When you create a company, you usually have to do some administrative paperwork to register officially, and this prevents any collision with existing company (to some extent, IANAL)
The first point I mentioned is not a problem if you make a company name with your actual name in it. However, the potential collision issue with another existing company name is still valid, especially if you have a common name, and if you didn't officially create a company afterwards.
Independant consultant is not weak
As an additional remark, and as you wrote in comments, I think that your premise of "independant Consultant title looks bad on a resume" is wrong, at least partly.
Your satisfied clients and successful projects will be the actual proof that you can be trusted, whether you're in a company or not. You should try to highlight this part.
Maybe there will be some concern on your ability to work in a team, but since your independant activity is management, it seems obvious to me that this not an issue in your case.
Also, working as independant consultant also implies positive skills that had to be built. Some that come to my mind : sense of responsibility, good organisation, self-discipline and able to work autonomously, negotiation skills...
There is nothing wrong with 'Independent Consultant' that having a company name beats. Provable experience is more important.
Either is a point against you with many employers, companies are often wary of hiring consultants and entrepreneurs full time for many excellent reasons.
I'd advise against putting anything fictitious on your resume.
If you want to use a company name, the simplest (and possibly only) way to do this honestly is to create a company.
I'm not saying it's in any way necessary to have a company name on your CV, but the only way you can have it without causing you trouble is to have a company. In the UK, you would only mention it when it can be found on the companieshouse website, which may take a few days. I assume in most countries it's easy to check if a company exists.