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Perhaps a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but you don't want to take any chances with your new small business. Your business name will often be the first thing potential clients know about your business. It may be what appears in online searches or what they find in the local Yellow Pages. Whether humorous, serious, descriptive, or abstract, naming a business is often one of the initial stumbling blocks that an entrepreneur must cross.
As you begin brainstorming names for your new venture, keep in mind these considerations.
1. Where it will be used. Your company's legal name will be used on all government forms and applications, including tax returns, employer ID applications, licenses, and permits. Then, if you want to offer service or sell products under another name, you can file a "fictitous name" statement with your local government agency.
2. The fictitious name. Also called DBA or "doing business as", a fictitious name merely refers to a name other than your personal legal name or the names of your partners or name of LLC or registered corporation.
3. Your name may be taken. In the world of shops, restaurants, blogs, and websites, your perfect name for your budding venture may already be on the business card of another venture. Do a little initial research using online search engines and then follow-up with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's website, www.uspto.gov to check whether a name has already been registered as a trademark. Local resources such as city or county clerks may also have some process of identifying whether a name has been registered.
Note that each state has its own procedures and rules regarding naming a business and registering a business name. You can take a look at the Business.gov listing of local laws to determine standard procedure in your state.
The name is just the beginning of your business, so name it well.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.