How to Select the Name for your LLC or Corporation (Ultimate Guide)

When you are attempting to name a company, a business name search is the first step. This free tool will allow you to complete a business name search in the records of the Secretary of State in any state, prior to committing to a business filing.

You can find information about all Secretary of State divisions with business search link on this page. Just click on the state you would like to check and you will be taken to the right page of the Secretary of State website. In some states, the Secretary of State will charge you for this service.

select-business-name

Selecting a Business Name: What you need to account

Did you know that a quality business name search goes much farther than just checking the Secretary of State website? Every state has its own rules for how you name a company and determining name availability goes beyond seeing if there is another company using the name you want.

Sitting down to name a company is actually one of the more enjoyable steps you will take as you are incorporating a business or forming an LLC. Generally, you have a great deal of freedom to be creative when you name a company, but there are a number of rules in every state that you must follow if you want the Secretary of State to approve your business name. This is important information to understand before you start a business filing.

The rules to name a company in each state are different, but we have put together a list of the most commonly used rules among all of the states. This is not an all inclusive list, but should give you a good starting point. If you have questions, you should feel free to give us a call. We are always glad to help!

How To Name a Company

We are often asked for our help by individuals who are about to name a company and we do our best to simplify the process. However, there are still a number of things to consider.

Before you begin a business name search, there is much to do. Determining how to name a company is first. Whether you are forming an LLC or completing an incorporation filing, selecting the right name is about creativity and good planning.  For a small business owner, you should consider:

  • choosing a name that reflects the products and services you provide
  • select a business name that is easy for your customer to spell and pronounce

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.  As you expand your business, you may find that the business name you have chosen is too restrictive
  • Make your name memorable.  You want to stand apart from the competition.
    (Read more about name selection on this page: http://fortune.com/2011/12/15/10-rules-for-picking-a-company-name/)

There are three additional key questions you should ask yourself before you decide on a business name:

  • Is your business name available?
  • If your business will have a website, is a similar domain name available?
  • Will your business have trademark protection?

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.

Complete a business name search to find out if another company is already using a business name that is the same, or perhaps too similar.

Depending on your state, you may be able to use the same name as another company, depending on the type of entity they have established, the industry they service, or in some states if they will grant you permission.

This is an area where good incorporation services can be a benefit.  One of the tools an incorporation service can provide is helping you determine the business name availability.

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.

When you name a company, don’t try to piggyback off the success of someone else’s name.  Choosing a business name that is similar to another company is 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.

Choosing a business name is an important step whether you are forming an LLC or incorporating a business and should be considered carefully before committing to a business filing.  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. Follow these steps to name a company or let us help and the entire process will go smoothly.

Name an LLC-Do’s and Don’ts

Naming an LLC

Choosing a name is truly the first step in starting an LLC and is one of the most important. The name you select:

  1. must contain, as the last words of the name, the words “limited liability company”, “L.L.C.”, or “LLC”. Some states allow other abbreviations, such as “Ltd”.
  2. may contain the name of one or more of the members
  3. must clearly be distinguishable from the name of any other LLC registered, and must also be clearly distinguishable from the names of any corporations in most states.
  4. must not contain the words any words that suggest it is in the business of issuing policies of insurance and assuming insurance risks, such as “bank”, “trust”, “trustee”, “incorporated”, “inc”, “corporation”, “insurer”, “insurance company”, etc.
  5. Must not contain any words that would indicate it is in any way associated with a corporation, such as “Incorporated”, “Corporation”, “Corp.”, or “Inc.”
  6. It cannot contain any language that that implies the business is connected with a state or federal agency or a corporation or other entity.
  7. May not contain language stating or implying that it is organized for a purpose other than that permitted by state law and its articles of organization.

Name a Corporation – Do’s and Don’ts

Deciding how to name a company is one of the first steps in the process of forming your Corporation. The name that you choose:

  • Must not the same as, or similar or deceptively similar to, the name of any other registered business entity in the state and/or any reserved names on record, subject to certain exceptions under state law.
  • May not contain language stating or implying that it is organized for a purpose other than that permitted by state law and its certificate of formation.

In addition, the name must end in one of the following words:

  • “Incorporated”
  • “Corporation”
  • “Company”
  •  “Co.”
  • “Inc.”
  • “Corp”

State law restricts the use of certain words and phrases in business names when you name a company. Because this area of law varies so greatly from state to state, we are unable to provide you with a general list.