You have created a rock solid business plan and you are ready to form an LLC. But how do you go about choosing the right name for your business?
When you form an LLC, choosing the right name is about creativity and good planning. For a small business owner, choosing a name that reflects the products and services you provide and is easy for your customer to spell and pronounce is a good place to start.
Other tips include:
- Avoid names that are geographic in nature. If you plan to expand in other areas or sell over the internet a geographic name can inhibit growth.
- Watch linking the name to one product line. Choosing a name like Luxury Lawn Chairs is great until you decide to start selling other patio furniture.
- Make your name memorable. You want to stand apart from the competition.
There are three additional key questions you should ask yourself before you decide on a business name:
- Is your business name available? Complete a business name search to determine this.
- Check if the domain name is available for the business name you selected.
- Will your business have trademark protection?
Selected the Name: Now What?
Once you come up with a great name for your business, you will need to make certain you are not stepping on any trademarks or any existing names by completing a business name search. What this means, you cannot register a business name which has already been registered by someone else in the state or holds the trademark of it.
Conduct a business name search on the state’s Secretary of State website. You can find in-depth information on how to conduct the search and choose a business name on BusinessEntity.org.
You must make sure the name you selected is unique and does not match with any existing corporation, Limited liability Corporation, or limited partnership in your state. There are also certain state-specific business name conventions which you must adhere to. You can find this information on the SOS website.
If your business will have a website, I recommend searching to see if a similar domain name is available before you finalize your business name. Using your business name in full or in part will make it easier for your customers to find you on the web.
Resist the temptation to use a famous name for your business. Choosing names like IBM International or Wal-Mart Warehouse are just going to bring heat from the big guys. Ultimately you will have to stop using the name and you could incur some hefty fines. But, trademark protection is not just for the big guys.
When you form an LLC and choose your business name, you could receive trademark protection. If your business is anything but a small local service or business, then trademark protection is worth looking into.
Trademark Protection: What is that?
Trademark protection gives a business exclusive use of their name or logo. It prevents another company from selling inferior products or services under your business name or capitalizing on the brand reputation you have worked so hard to build.
Distinctive names receive more trademark protection than common names. Small business owners should choose clever names that suggest the products or services they provide. For example, Bath and Body Works and Motherhood both suggest the type of products they carry, yet are distinctive and are therefore protected as trademarks.
Choosing a business name is an important step when you form an LLC. Choose wisely, and don’t forget to seek feedback from a variety of sources. Getting it right the first time can save you a bundle in the long run.