Choosing a Business Name and Purchasing Domain Names
Deciding on your business name is one of the first and most important steps you will take on your journey to becoming a business owner.
Once you’ve brainstormed and batted around a few ideas in your head, you’ll want to make sure of a few things before you order your shiny new business cards!
Let’s take this example…I want to start a residential cleaning company. I’m from Austin, Texas, so I am going to name my new business “Maid in Austin.” Clever idea! Surely, no one has thought of that before! 😉
The first thing I’m going to do is run a search for current and previous businesses matching this company name.
OK! So far, so good.
Next, I am going to head over to search the United States Patent and Trademark website to see if this name infringes on someone’s trademark…
Yes! That is, No Trademark Records were FOUND!!!!
Next, I’ll need to pick out a nice website address. Something that matches my business name, it’s gotta be short, easy to remember with no dashes or numbers or any weirdness AND it must end in .COM.
Doh! I just hit my first road block…someone has already snapped that baby up…
I do another quick search, and find the plural version AND it’s been waiting out there, all alone, in the interwebs, for ME!
Remember to go back and double-check to see if “Maids In Austin” is trademarked or otherwise infringes on any one else! If all is a go, I’ll move forward. It’s not trademarked! SO, I quickly snatch up the domain name and move on to staking my claim in social media.
We’ll get more into social media later, but I want to point out that if your social media profiles are an exact match to your actual business name, it’ll be easier for people to find and remember you. This is YOUR brand and it needs to be consistent!
What Kind of Business AM I?
Now that I’ve chosen a name, snatched up the domain name, the Facebook page and the Twitter handle, it’s time to register my business officially. But before I register my business, I’ll need to decide what type of business I want to be. The most common way for a small business to start off is as a sole proprietorship. This is fine when it’s just you and maybe one or two employees, but as you grow you’ll want to consider an LLC ( aka, Limited Liability Corporation). The LLC protects you as an individual, so that if something unfortunate were to happen, a lawsuit would only have access to your business assets and NOT your personal ones. And unless you are planning on having multiple partners or you want to franchise, you needn’t worry about being a full-blown corporate entity.
Registering Your DBA
Onward! It’s time to register my shiny, new business with the proper government entities. My new business name is “Maids in Austin.” Going forward, we call this my DBA (doing business as) or Fictitious name. I have a number of choices when it comes to registering. If I’m going to file as an LLC, then I’d do this at the same time. If I were looking into a sole proprietorship then I’d just file the DBA.
I recommend that you visit The Small Business Administration (SBA), which has all the info you’ll need to register in your own state. Good luck on the new adventure!
Getting Paid, Merchant Processing and So Much More (Coming Soon!)