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Educate Yourself

Naming Your Company

by Robert Kowalski

Choosing The Right Name

Choose the name of your legal entity carefully. It is important for the chosen name to portray the image you want for your new company. Legally, the name you select must not be "deceptively similar" to any existing company, or must be "distinguishable on the record" of your state.

For example, if a company named "Glow LLC" exists in your state, you probably would not be allowed to name your business "Glove LLC".

Sometimes the name you select will not be available. This is the reason we ask our clients to submit a second and a third choice of company name when forming a new entity. Additionally, most states require you to add the words "Limited Liability Company," or the abbreviation "LLC" to the end of the name (for LLCs), or "Inc." , "Corp." or "Incorporate", "Corporation", etc. for corporations.

Sticking To Your Name

Once you choose the name (including the appendix, also called entity identifier) you should stick with it. For example, if your company name is "MyCompany Inc." then all your official letterheads, correspondence, domain names, business cards, and any other company related documents and sales collateral would have to include the use of "MyCompany Inc." as opposed to "MyCompany Corp" and such.

Reserving Your Business Name

If you are not ready to form your company, but want to protect the name you want to do business under, you can reserve that name with the Secretary of State in which you plan to form your business entity. The process of company name reservation is simple and very much similar to the process of forming the actual entity. Keep in mind that name reservations are often limited to a specific period of time, so you might need to renew the reservation or risk loosing the name you have reserved.

What if My Business Needs to Operate Under Several Names?

Your business entity can only have one name, however you can file as many assumed names (also called trade name, fictitious name, "Doing Business As", DBA, or d.b.a.) as you like, as long as they are available in the state or county where you plan to use them.

Creating DBA is the easiest and most cost effective way to do business under a new business name without having to create an entirely new business entity. With DBA you can accept payments, advertise, and otherwise present yourself under that name.

READ NEXT: Who Should Incorporate? »

Company Name Reservation
DISCLAIMER REGARDING LEGAL ADVICE: This article is not intended to provide any tax advice or direction. None of information contained on this web site is intended to constitute legal or other professional advice, and you should not rely solely on the information contained on the site for making legal decisions. When necessary, you should consult with an attorney for specific advice tailored to your situation.

About The Author

Robert Kowalski is a seasoned incorporator and business filing specialist with over 10 years experience consulting emerging companies with their business filing needs. Robert served as the chief editor and one of the top contributors to Answers @ MyUSACorporation.com.

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