How to Register a Business Name

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Business (Image: Robert Scoble, Flickr.com Creative Commons License)

Starting your own business is one of the most gratifying experiences that life has to offer. The first and most basic part of starting that business is simply registering your business name in order to make it is legally recognized company. This is usually the step that most people recall as being the first step to owning their business. Registering the business name is a relatively simple and straightforward process, and most anyone should be able to do it on their own with little or no difficulty. Here is how to register a business name.

Things You'll Need

  • Photo ID
  • Money for Filing Fees

Select a name for your business. The name is an extremely important part of your business, because it is how customers will know and refer to you. Think of a good name that reflects on your line of business and then think about how much you will still like the name in 20 years.

Conduct a name search to see if your desired name is available. The Secretary of State maintains a master list of all businesses that have been registered in your state. You should also be able to perform a name search with your local County Clerk or Chamber of Commerce. Perform the name search to see if any other business similar to yours are using a similar name. If not, you are clear to register the name for your business.

Register your internet domain. It doesn’t matter if you conduct business online at not, you should still register an internet domain name for your business, in case you want to build a web site at some point in the future. It is always a good idea to at least have a simple one-page web site for your business, if for no other reason than to provide the contact information and directions for your business.

File a DBA for the company name you have chosen. This is usually filed at your County Courthouse, or can also be mailed directly to the Secretary of State. This document says that you are doing business as (DBA) whatever company name you choose. Note that some locations may refer to it as something other than a DBA. For example, in California it is known as a Fictitious Names Statement. If you ask for a form to submit your DBA, explain what you are wanting to file and they should know exactly what you need. Filing the DBA will somewhat reserve the name for you, but you will still need to file an official business registration.

Register your business with the Secretary of State. You may also be able to perform this step at your local County Courthouse. You can register your business as a Sole Proprietor, General Partnership or as a Limited Liability Company. Each has their own unique benefits and weaknesses. Determine which best suits your needs and fill out the appropriate paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may not be required to register a business name. If you use your own name as the business name, many States will waive the requirement to register. Check with your local County Clerk’s Office to see if this condition applies to you.

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