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Does your business name really matter?

Does your business name really matter?  Absolutely!!!  In addition to identifying your company, the name of the business reflects the company’s reputation and is the foundation on which you will build your brand.

It is worth noting that while this step is fun and exciting, it should not be a 5 minutes exercise.  Taking the time and effort to research a name aligning with your company vision, has branding potential, and complies with all the legal requirements, will save you time and money in the long run.  The following steps will help.

  1. Brainstorm:  When brainstorming, jot down as many names as possible.  Don’t limit, hold back or judge the list at this point.
  2. Narrow Down:  Now judge the list.  Remember MOM.  Ask yourself if the business name is 
    1. Memorable – Will people remember the name?
    2. Original – An original name always trumps a name that describes your business. 
    3. Meaningful – People should be able to identify the goods or services your business promotes.
  3. Required Words:  Use required words such as LLC, Corporation, Partnership, etc.  Most states have a list of required words or phrases that are to be included in the business name.
  4. Eliminate Restrictive Words:  For example, if your company is an LLC, avoid using words such as corporation, partnership, bank, etc. Your business name should always represent the true legal entity type.
  5. Check for name availability:  This step is a vital one.  After you’ve narrowed down your list and it meets the above requirements, check if the name is available.  In most states, these records are kept with the Secretary of State and also available to search online.
  6. Check for Trademarks:  This is also a vital step.  To avoid potential trademark issues down the road, check the US Patent and Trademark Office database.
  7. Internet Readiness:  One last step.  Ensure your business name is internet friendly.  Even with a brick-n-mortar business, chances are down the line, you will need the internet to promote, expand or connect.  Check for and lock in a good domain name. 

Just like with all else, taking the time to do the extra research and steps always pays off in the end.  These steps will save you time, money and potential legal issues down the road.