Business formations continue at a record-breaking pace in the U.S. This new wave of startups, government statistics show that 432,034 applications were made in November 2021, reflects the need for entrepreneurship in times of economic downturns.
On starting a business, brainstorming its name is one of the most exciting tasks. The name of your business needs careful consideration because it will provide the foundation of your brand.
Current Name Requirements for Startups
There are several processes you can use to decide on a name, including brainstorming or using a business name generator. However, these must follow the business name requirements in the U.S.:
- Unless your business is incorporated or a limited liability company, you cannot include business entity identifiers.
- Include the identifier Incorporated, Corporation, Inc., Limited Liability Company, or LLC to a business that is incorporated as such.
- Never use a name that implies the name of a government unit e.g., a borough, city, state, etc.
- Don’t include any words that infer a government entity, e.g., the United States, Federal, FBI, etc.)
- Make sure the business name you choose is not misleading to the public about what your startup provides.
- Never include words that require professional licensing e.g., Attorney, Doctor, Accounting, Engineering.
- If you are not legally authorized by a government agency, you cannot use words like insurance, bank, or trust.
- Don’t use a name that is similar to that used by an existing business.
- You also cannot use derivatives or any other form of prohibited words. This includes plurals or ending them with “ing.”
Steps to Ensure You Meet the Name Requirements
Even though most states have similar name requirements, make sure to check with the Secretary of State office for any that may differ in your state of doing business.
Find A Suitable Business Name
Now you are ready to work on the name of your new business. Whether you intend to brainstorm or use a business name generator, your business name should be unique, easy to pronounce, catchy, short, and memorable.
This website helps you get the best results with its advanced AI naming tool, helping to generate a business name suitable to your product, industry, and location.
Conduct a Name and Trademark Search
Even if you are sure that the name chosen for your startup meets all the requirements, you still must make sure it is available to use. Trademark names are protected by law in all 50 states. Make sure that the name you have chosen is free of a trademark, allowing you to use it in any state.
Protect Your Business Name
Once you have chosen your business name, you must protect it by registering it in several ways, depending on your chosen business structure and location.
Protect your entity name at the state level by registering it. A trademark offers you protection at a federal level. See if you are legally obliged to get a “doing business as” (DBA), and you may even want a DBA even if not mandatory. Make sure to get the domain name that protects your business website address.
TRUiC, the small business information company with all the tools and resources you need to start a business, gives the following advice on each:
Register Your Entity Name – At the state level, your entity name identifies your business. Choose your business structure, and then follow the requirements for forming an LLC or Corporation in your state after checking that the name is not registered by another business. Once your business name is registered, no one can open an entity using that name.
Trademark Protection – A trademark protects the name of your business and what it offers at the federal level. This is done by checking the official trademark database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Register Your DBA – With a DBA, you can conduct a business using another name than the formal name you have chosen or your personal name. If you decide on a DBA, in most states you are required to register it. With some business structures, you are required to use a DBA in some states.
Importance of Your Domain Name – Every business today needs an online presence. Choose a domain name (URL or website address) that is the same or as close to your business name. This allows you to protect the online presence of your brand. Once your domain name is registered, it’s exclusively yours for as long as you own it.
Now that you know all the current U.S. startup name requirements, you can get started with the process of naming your business and registering it. There is more to a business name than many people imagine because it is often the first point of contact most people have with your business. Make sure it leaves the right impression.