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Business Organization – Registering the Entity Name

We often talk about the power of business ownership; with clients, on our Uncommon Life podcast, and pretty much to anyone who will listen to us! Organizing a business is nit-picky work, but it has to be done and done right. We are writing a series of articles about business organization because we know it’s important for those of you heading down the Uncommon Path. One of those nit-picky tasks is to register your entity name. This may seem like a very simple step, but it is not to be taken lightly. You want a business name that is unique and memorable, and once you’ve found that, you want it to be yours. You want to protect that name as an aspect of your brand.

Registering your business name is usually part of the process of creating your LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp. For a deeper dive into that, read our post on Business Incorporation. If you are planning on going the sole proprietorship or partnership route, you may need to file a DBA (doing business as) name. Whatever path you take, it all starts with a name.

Is this Name Taken?

You’ve got a great name, but who else has thought of that name? You need to do some research before you just register that name. Find out what other companies in your area or business vertical are using that name or something similar. Find out if a URL is available that will be simple enough to search and use.

A few states may not require a DBA as part of your business registration. But before you register your name, make sure it’s eligible for use. You may also want to trademark it, which we will get into in more detail in the future. But to be clear on this point, a DBA does not automatically protect the name from being used elsewhere.

How to Search

  • The Internet – start with a good, old-fashioned Google search for the name you want to use.
  • Local – your county clerk’s office should have a fictitious name database to check if a name is already being used in your state.
  • Corporation and LLC Database – check out the corporation and LLC database for your state or municipality typically under the Secretary of State website.

Services like Business Rocket can do a lot of this legwork for you, at a cost of course. But if you are working a day-job to support your new business habit, it might make sense to have someone else do all of this.

OK, so now you have done the legwork or outsourced it to people who know what they are doing and have a unique business name. Not it’s time to get that name registered!

Register with the IRS

You need to register your business with the IRS to receive your Employer Identification Number (EIN). Your EIN is necessary for filing your taxes (hence the IRS’ keen interest in making sure you have it!).

Register with state and local agencies

Once you are known and recognized by the IRS, you still need to register your business with one or more agencies in your state or local government, such as revenue offices or the Secretary of State. If you have employees and plan to run payroll, you may also need to register with your state agency to file payroll taxes.

Registering a name might seem like the proverbial “busy work” you hated in school, but it is an important step in building your business. Too often, business owners don’t take the time to research their business name and find out too late that their chosen name is not as unique as they thought it was. Researching and registering your entity name ensures that you are building something that will last and will stand out among your competitors.

Your business has the potential to bring you cash flow and even financial freedom in the long run. It is worth the time to do it right!