How To Register A Business - Reality Check

One of the first things you need to identify when starting a company is whether you need to registering a business name. Registering a business name is necessary if you're forming an LLC or corporation or if you're using a fictitious (DBA) or fictitious business name (ABN).

When we say registering a business name this refers to registration with the state filing office which is often the secretary of state. There are other forms of name registration such as registering a trade name or a domain name. However, these types of registration are done individually and aren't addressed in this article.

And There's So Much More!

You must first choose a name for your business that you wish to register. Almost any name will work so far as it isn't identical or deceptively similar to a company name already registered with the secretary of state.

When you operate a business as a sole owner and use your own name, then you'll probably not need to go through the process of registering a business name. However, if you're operating as a sole proprietor or general partnership and intention to use an assumed or fictitious business name (meaning a name different than your own name) then you'll need to record a business name.

As an example, if your name is Joe Jones and you want to execute a business called Plumbing Professionals, then you'll need to go through the process of registering Plumbing Professionals as your assumed business name.

Some states will permit the registering of a firm name for a corporation or LLC when the same title has already been registered as a fictitious or assumed business name. Other states won't allow the registering of any name which is already being used by another entity or as a fictitious or assumed business name.

If you're going to operate your business as a corporation, S corporation or LLC (limited liability company) then you'll need to record a name. Part of the process involved in forming a corporation or LLC is registering a business name.

Every state operates separately or individually when it is a question of registering a business name. Therefore, it doesn't matter if someone in a different state from the one you're filing in is with the same name. In other words, you could get an LLC in Ohio named XYZ Plumbing, LLC, and likewise an LLC in Michigan named XYZ Plumbing, LLC, and each one would be okay because they're filed in different states.

However, even though there can only be a problem as far as your state secretary of state is concerned with registering the same business name which is being used in another state, there may constitute a problem from a trademark or domain name standpoint. Trademark and domain names must be searched separately. This whole area has become more confusing and complicated with the spread of internet use.

Create a list of possible names for your business. Confirm availability of the company names on your list by referencing a trademark name database. Also consult a list of active businesses in your state. You must choose a name that isn't currently trademarked or being used by an active cases in the same state. Once you decide on which available name to use, register it with the corresponding department that oversees the formation of companies in your state.

The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests choosing a name that's easy to pronounce, easily remembered as it has a clear connection to the kind of business it references, and is distinguishable from competitors' names. That last piece of advice is important for avoiding trademark infringements. Additionally, imagine how the name will look on business cards and marketing material. Finally, think it over for some time. Once you choose a name, you'll be related to it; so consider all options carefully.

Hire a marketing agency to help you select a name if you cannot think of one. Entrepreneur magazine states that a marketing agency that specializes in name development will know all the trademark laws and can provide insight into which name is more likely to resonate with a target audience. However, such a marketing agency can charge up to $80, 000 for their services. If you take this line of action, negotiate a complete branding package from the agency. Ask them to contribute to the creation of a logo, business cards and other marketing materials.

If you decide that you no longer want to use the business name that is currently registered with your state department, you may choose to register a fictitious name. For example, if you registered a dog grooming business under' Rough-n-Tough Pups' but your marketing agency advises you to rename as' Clean-n-Pristine' pups because it presents a more active image, you can handle it by registering basic fictitious name paperwork with the appropriate state agency.

The words corporation, limited liability company, Inc. or LLC, are generally not considered a portion of the name for purposes of avoiding duplication. For example, you couldn't file your LLC as Smith, LLC, if the name Smith, Inc., was already being used in your filing state. The entity designation (like Inc., or LLC) is dropped off for purposes of checking the name for duplication.

There are different ways you can verify for business name registration availability. One obvious way is to draw the secretary of states office where you are going to file, and urge them to run a name check.

One of the fastest and easiest way to check business name availability is to utilize the free registering a business name table. A link to the registering a business name table is given below for your use.

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