Naming an LLC
Updated: July 21, 2021|
Updated: July 21, 2021|
Launching a limited liability company (LLC) is easy. It requires no complicated procedures and involves filing just a few simple documents.
But, establishing your LLC starts with choosing a name. As with any other business structure, your LLC’s name shouldn’t resemble the name of other companies or violate any trademarks. You also may need to comply with additional rules when naming your LLC, depending on the state in which your business will operate.
Follow this simple guide to learn more about naming your LLC.
Ideally, you want a business name that’s memorable and easy to pronounce. It also should stand out in search engine results. Here are three searches you should conduct before settling on your LLC name:
LLC names must follow this format: “(Insert business name here), LLC.” Beyond complying with that format and confirming the availability of your LLC name in your state’s business name database, you’ll also want to choose a name that’ll make you feel proud about your brand every time you present yourself to a prospective client or investor.
While each state has its own statutes and regulations that cover the naming of LLCs, here are four common guidelines you must follow nationwide:
Choosing a name is just one of the several essential requirements involved in proper LLC formation. Always select a competent attorney or a reputable and experienced online formation service for your LLC. This will help you avoid improper or incomplete formation, which can lead to significant delays and potentially cause you to lose the limited liability and other protections afforded by an LLC.
Once you pick a name that meets all the LLC naming guidelines in the state where you plan to establish your new business, you can reserve it by filing the appropriate paperwork with the Secretary of State. It’s a fairly simple process. You’ll then receive confirmation from your state that your business name is available for use.
Even if you don’t plan to use it right away, reserving a business name is important. Why? Doing so establishes your intent to use it in the future and prevents others from acquiring that name.
Many states limit business name reservations to a specific period so you might need to renew your reservation or risk losing your preferred business name. You can reserve a business name for 60 days in California, for example, but name reservations last 120 days in Texas. Check with your Secretary of State’s office to confirm how long a business name reservation lasts in the state where you plan to do business.
The government department responsible for overseeing LLC formation varies by state. Massachusetts, for example, has a “Secretary of the Commonwealth” instead of a “Secretary of State” so the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office manages the business formation process. In Alaska, you must file LLC formation documents with the State Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development.
What if you find another business operating under a name similar to your chosen name in another state? Even if you can legally register that business name in your state, it still may not be a good choice for your LLC. Here are some best practices to consider:
Your business entity can only have one name. But, you can apply for and use assumed or fictitious names — also known as “doing business as” (DBA) names — as long as they’re available in the state or county where you plan to do business.
Creating a DBA name is the easiest and most cost-effective way to conduct business under a different name without creating an entirely new business entity. With a DBA name, your LLC can accept payments, advertise, and otherwise present itself under that name. However, three states — Kansas, New Mexico, or South Carolina — don’t allow DBA names.
After you choose a business name for your LLC, you’ll need to register a domain name and start your LLC.
As previously noted, you should conduct a domain name search to ensure the availability of your LLC’s name as a URL for your business website. You can do this by searching on domain name registration websites, website builders, and web hosting services you plan to use.
Even if you aren’t yet ready to build a business website for your LLC, it’s important to secure your domain name. Why? Domain registration enables you to get a personalized, business email address you can use to communicate with your customers. It also protects others from claiming your business’s URL.
LLCs provide pass-through taxation benefits, personal asset protection, and a flexible management structure. Forming an LLC can help you establish credibility and authority in your market because customers and investors will view it as a formal commitment to your business.
By choosing a unique business name that suits your LLC, you’ll create a strong foundation for consistent and recognizable branding. The right name also can help your LLC drive customer loyalty and more effective advertising campaigns in the long run.
Once you choose a name (including the LLC designator), you should use it consistently to avoid confusion. If you name your company “MyBusiness, LLC,” for example, then your official correspondence, website domain name, business cards, and other company-related documents should use the name “MyBusiness, LLC.”
Yes. You can name an LLC after your personal name as long as no other local business uses the same name. In fact, you can use your personal name for your own business branding.
Each state has a searchable database of current business names. Visit your Secretary of State’s official website for more information. You also can conduct web and social media searches to see if another business already uses your potential LLC name.
See the Applying LLC Naming Guidelines section above for more details.
In addition, you may want to avoid using nicknames or initials in your LLC name as well as your company’s geographic location (e.g., “California Digital Marketing Agency, LLC”). Why? Nicknames and initials may seem unprofessional and don’t provide a sense of what your business does while geographic references can limit the future growth, expansion, or direction of your business unless you plan to stay in one specific location.
If you’re ready to form your LLC, start by creating a list of potential LLC names. Then, conduct thorough research to ensure the availability of your preferred name. See the Conducting LLC Name Searches and Applying LLC Naming Guidelines sections above for more details.
Information on this page has been gathered by a multitude of sources and was most recently updated on July 2021.
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