Whether you form an LLC or create a corporation, selecting a business name is the initial stage of the whole formation process. More than that, it is an interesting and inspiring task where you can show off some creativity and even experiment in a way. However, similar to all the steps in the business formation process, this one also has certain legal restrictions. So, before registering your company name, you need to check the availability of your desired business name by performing a name search. To do that, you can check the state business database by using a business name search tool. Though usually free and available for each and every one of the 50 states, some of those company name search tools might appear confusing or even misleading. To help you out with that, in this article, we’ve summed up the info on how to choose a business name and how to use the name search tool to check it. And, of course, we’ll provide the search tools we consider the best choice for each state.
Why Do You Need to Perform the Entity Name Search?
Once you think you find a perfect name for your new company, it might turn out that your version doubles the names of already existing businesses. According to the state laws, two businesses can’t use the same name not only to avoid confusion but also to maintain fair competition. Under the law, a new business should coincide with the registered ones neither by form nor by sound. That’s why, before you get used to the chosen name, it’s advisable to check that name availability. Even if you are not going to incorporate straight away, most states allow reserving the name for a certain period of time, which is up to 3 or 4 months.
To check a name for a new business, each state has a solid business database covering all the names currently registered in this state. Besides, there are a number of online business name searches that allow performing a name check quickly and without a hassle. Anyway, we strongly recommend that you come up with a few name ideas for your business to have an alternative if some of the variants are already existent. Besides, it won’t go amiss to check a corresponding domain name for your future company website so that nobody could use it while you are completing all the business registration formalities.
Search Tools for All 50 States
Since entrepreneurs file their business formation or incorporation documents to the Secretary of State, you can find an extensive business database and a free business name search for your state at the Secretary of State website as well. Yet, there are certain nuances for some states. So, to save you the time and effort on finding a reliable and verified name search engine, below, we’ve made a list of efficient and functional tools. To access an appropriate state’s name search tool, you just need to type in the state name.
How to Use the Search Tool
Finding a good name search tool is only halfway to success. To get the maximum out of it, you need to use the tool right. Thus, while filling in the name you are going to check, omit the business entity type identifiers such as LLC or Co. In case you find a fully identical variant, you need to change your name and try other options you have at hand. At the same time, you can also search for deceptively similar names to avoid any dubious meaning and spelling or sounding.
Other than that, some name search tools allow performing an advanced name search and optionally checking the name by keywords used in it. By reviewing results with a corresponding keyword, you’ll figure out what name forms and types are used by other similar businesses. This way, you’ll be able to avoid any sort of repetition and create a truly unique name for your business that will make your company confidently stand out among competitors from the very start.
Useful Tips for Creating a Good Name for Your Business
A company name is a sort of public identity for your business and your business signature. So, choosing a name that will stay with you for years to come is a highly responsible and challenging task. Apart from not being registered with the state, your company name should be representative of your business activity, memorable, and appealing to your potential customers. With that, you should focus not only on the associations the business name will bring but also on how it sounds and spells.
To start with the name idea, while brainstorming the options, think about the product you sell or service you provide, your target audience, and how your clients will find you. In this concern, the company name should evoke direct associations with your business activity. In the meantime, when it comes to the form, refrain from using too long and exquisite words that make up cumbersome combinations. Concise and easy-to-spell names are much easier to remember both visually and phonetically. Besides, avoid using country, city, and state names in your company name not to limit your business potential growth or bind it to any specific territory. In addition, check how your company name will adapt to the URL. In the digital era, it’s vital for any business to be present on the web and the company domain name should be easy to spot for the search engines.
To continue, apart from a creative aspect, there are some legalities to follow when creating a name for your business entity. So, make sure you comply with all applicable rules. Thus, a legally valid name of a corporation should contain such abbreviations as Inc. or Corp. or even full words like a corporation, incorporated, limited, or company. Other than that, if you have plans for registering your own trademark, it will be of great use to check the trademark database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This way, you’ll make sure your company name is not trademarked by any other legal entity in the US.
Checking a new company name before you delve deeper into the company registration process is neither a complicated nor a time-consuming job, especially given the helpful online tools you’ll have at your disposal to search business names. Yet, it’s an important step you can’t skip or neglect since the Secretary of State won’t accept the Articles of Organization containing the company name that is already in use. You’ll be allowed to form your business only when you come up with a unique business name.