How to Name a New Business

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Name a business by picking something that clearly communicates the purpose of the business, checking the Internet for a good domain name related to the business, and hiring an attorney to check the state for the legality of a name. Learn why it is illegal to use names that other businesses have already registered with information from a small business owner in this free video on starting a business.

Part of the Video Series: Small Business Basics
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Justyn. I'm with Justyn Power Management and I'm going to talk with you today about how to name a new business. Of course a business name is a very important part of launching a business. So buying a business or even starting one from the ground up. And so when I've clients come to me and say, "Justin I've got this great idea; I want to launch a new business. I've got a bunch of clients", whatever, first thing we do is we look at the marketing aspects of the name they're going to choose. So the marketing aspects, what I mean by that is that we go through and we say, "Okay, now what is your business going to be doing?" Let's choose a name that clearly communicates to customers what it is that your business does. So that way, when they find your name, they're trying to look you up, they do a web search, anything, the industry that you're working in is connected to your business name. Let's use Mark and let's say Mark's a plumber. He comes to me and he's got this idea; first thing I'm going to do with him is we're going to sit down; we're going to say, "Okay, Mark you've got this, this plumbing gig you want to do. Let's start with Mark's Plumbing". They'll go "Mark Smith's Plumbing" and "Plumbing by Mark". We'll go to creating fifteen different names and we'll create a list of names that we know would work that clearly communicates to customers. Next step of that would then be to do like a web search and what I'm looking for here is to see first of all if there are other companies that are using the name that pop up real quickly. Second of all, I'm looking for a good web name that has not been used; a good domain name. Last thing you want to have to do is go by some obscure extension like a .biz where people still don't know the and totally type that, had that extension in. So you can't get a .com address advisable for a business, for not for profits or non-profits, you definitely want to look at a .org. If you're doing an education-base website .edu is important. So those are, that's what I'll do next; supposed we've got two names, I'll start looking for the names and see what websites come up and see if I can find one that hasn't been used. So after we've done some marketing research, the next step that I take my customers through is the research and the legal side of things. Legal is very important and just like you can reserve a domain name and not necessarily use it, business can reserve business names without using them. And that can get you in a lot of trouble later if you launch a business and haven't done, you do diligence and realize that somebody else has already reserve that name. So what I usually do is hire an attorney to do the name search and they can actually look through all the counties in state databases and make sure the name hasn't been reserved already. The next step is you can actually reserve a business name in most states and what you do is you go to like a Secretary of State website, that's an sos.ca.gov, for a, for example for California and most states are either the extensions like ca or the full state name; like, for example, sos.california.gov. Then you can usually find a form there that will allow you to file for a fictitious name or a doing businesses. If they do not support that on state level, like California does not, you have to go to the county and register your fictitious name. So those are some great places to start. You start with kind of, with a seed list of some great names that communicate to customers, then do some quick Internet-based web search, see if you can find a good domain name. The next step would go to legal side, hire an attorney, do a name search, then actually reserve the name yourself to the Secretary of State's website.

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