Corporate - What's In A Name?

Congratulations! You’re ready to launch your own business. Before you start, you’ll need to name your company.

First, when choosing a name, think about the type of service you plan to provide. Here, I describe two different and fictitious companies to give you an idea. Adam’s Plumbing Company is obviously a plumbing business owned by someone who chose the name Adam for a specific reason. It could be the owner’s name, a cousin, son, nephew, or just a random choice. And what about a company called, Linda’s Dream? This could be a homemade crafts company, owned by a man, and named after the man’s mother. Either way, the names of these two imaginary businesses hold specific importance for its owners.

Next, you'll need to find out if the name you want to use is already in use, or is protected by a trademark or service mark – yes, even if it’s your own name. Mistakes involving business names can be expensive. You may be forced to change your name, and have to rebuild your identity. But whether there would be legal consequences or not, using the same name as someone else can be confusing, and the money you spend on marketing may, inadvertently, lead your prospective customers to a competitor.

To find out whether the name you want is already in use, start by looking through your local phone book. You could also check the Secretary of State's database of reserved corporate names. Better yet, use an attorney who specializes in corporate law to help you avoid “potential paperwork pitfalls,” so you can focus on the business of running a successful business.

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