Choose a Business Name and Make Sure It is Available For Use

November 19, 2014 in ,

After you’ve decided on a type of entity, you need to choose a business name. Now, if you already run a sole-proprietorship, you probably already have a ‘Doing Business As’ name. But if you haven’t registered your name, we suggest writing down a few possibilities, and then performing a free name check. Most states have a database of active names, and it’s wise to check before you file any paperwork so your application isn’t rejected over something as simple as a name conflict. And, if you’re worried your name will be snapped up while the paperwork is being processed, you can actually reserve your name!

It is also a good idea at this point to do a little bit of online research to see how hard it will be to claim the domain and social media accounts that correspond with your business’s name. You want to be able to control as much of your brand as you possibly can, and if it looks like it’ll be hard to carve out a unique, online identity for your company under a particular name, it may not be a bad idea to think of something else.

Once you find out what names are available, you just register your limited liability company or corporation under that name. The paperwork that you’ll eventually file to form the business entity will have a spot for the company’s name. Neither LLCs nor corporations have to file a DBA since they’ll be organized under your chosen name. The only exception to this rule is if you’d like to do business using your current LLC or corporation, just under a different name. For example, if the company is Widgets Inc., and you’d like to market and sell under the name Widgets-R-Us, you’ll have to file a DBA.

Now after you form your LLC or corporation, your business name will be fairly well protected, at least at the state level. However, if you want to amp up that protection, or if you think you’ll eventually expand outside of your state, we recommend registering a trademark for your company’s name. Registering a mark is not the same as registering a name, as two marks using the same words can be registered, as long as one mark isn’t deceptively similar. However, a trademark is your property, and you can use it to brand your products or services. When you register your mark, that branding is protected at the federal level, and it is much easier to prosecute intellectual property theft. So once your LLC or corporation is formed, you may want to look into filing a trademark application.

But first, you need to choose a state of formation.

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