Get the newsletter everyone is talking about

Drop your email to get weekly small business advice

How To Check if a Business Name Is Taken

Brainstorming names for your business? Here’s how to ideate, research, and register your dream business name.

Bailey Keppel
Bailey Keppel
5 min read
featured_image

One of the first steps you’ll take when starting a business is deciding on a name. Sometimes a creative business name can serve as the sole inspiration for a business idea. While a poorly-researched name can create a disconnect between potential customers and your business. 

With such importance, it’s crucial to pick a quality name that’s not already in use to avoid any confusion with another business. On top of being best practice for building a unique brand, states also require filing for any new company name. 

Whether you’re currently brainstorming a few names or think your name might cause confusion between you and a competitor, keep reading to learn what databases and registrations to check. We also list a few extra tips on building your brand and picking the right name., keep reading to learn what databases and registrations to check. We also list a few extra tips on building your brand and picking the right name. 

For more small business tips and news delivered straight to your inbox, drop your email below! 

Is My Business Name Taken?

business owner on her laptop.

This question matters because by law, no two businesses within the same state may have the same name—and in some states, they can’t even be too similar. 

For example, if your business is called “Sparkle Home Cleaning,” your state may keep other cleaning companies from registering under a similar name. This is because of licensing, advertising, trademark, and other legal issues that espouse when two different brands—whether competing or not—have essentially the same name.

In most states, you can find an online business entity check tool through the Secretary of State, Department of State, or Commonwealth. 

Here are some examples of what the registrars will look like:

If you can't find an entity check tool through your Secretary of State, look for a Corporation Commission. 

What Types of Registrations are There?

business owner filling out application to register her business.

There are four types of business name registrations:

Entity Name

An entity name is what verifies your business at the state level—it is required to be recognized as an official business entity and to sell goods or services. Registering your entity name with your state will also protect your business from the undesired naming competition.

Domain Name

Once you’ve declared your business name and have certified it with your state, you should also secure it as your domain name.

A domain name is essentially the name of a website. It’s the portion a person types into the internet browser to land on a specific website. For example, if your business name is “The Best Plant Store Ever” then your domain name should be “thebestplantstoreever.com” or something very similar like “bestplantstore.com.”

Having your domain name match your business entity name professionalizes your company, helps avoid confusion, and instills trust in potential customers. If you’re building a website soon, check out these essential website features to get you started. 

Trademark

Trademarking your business name is useful when defending against copyright infringement at a national level. It’s especially important within a competitive industry or for larger enterprises and franchises.

You can register your business trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

DBA Name

DBA stands for “doing business as,” and refers to a business that operates under a name different from its entity name or the owner’s name. Before landing on a name for your company, it’s wise to check your region’s DBAs to see if one is already in use—even if it’s not registered as an entity name.

What Makes a Good Business Name?

Coffee shop showing logo and menu.

When ideating names for your up-and-coming business, be sure to choose something unique. Not only will this help your business stand out, but an uncommon name is more likely to be approved when registering your name.

Spelling, punctuation, capitalization, pluralization, and certain grammar switches are not usually enough to make a name different from competitors. For example, “3 Great Contractors” is not different enough from “Three Great Contractors.”

It’s also beneficial to choose a name that reflects what your business is all about. “Best Plant Store Ever” may not be the best business name, but the nature of the business is clear. 

One last thing to keep in mind when finalizing your name is searchability. While it may be perfectly legal and relevant to name your bookstore “Amazin Books,” you can probably see why this would be a bad idea. If somebody typed that into Google, you bet the first thing to come up would be a suggestion for Amazon Books.

All in all, you want to choose a business name while considering your brand and your competitors. Once you have it, you’re ready to register and run your business.

If you’re ready to operate your business efficiently and cut back on the busy work, start your free account with GoSite—an all-in-one platform built for small businesses like yours.

Try gosite for 14 days

Comments
GoSite-2
The easiest way to connect your business with more customers.
Group 12 (2) (1) (1)

Keep Reading

Illustration of an HVAC van.

HVAC Marketing: 11 Effective Ways to Promote Your Business

If you’re the owner of an HVAC company, you know there’s plenty of competition out there. IBIS World, a firm that ...
Sep 24, 2021 5 min read
illustration of three business owners registering their companies.

7 Steps to Register a Business in California

Are you a new business owner looking to register your company in California? First of all, congratulations! Starting a ...
Sep 17, 2021 5 min read
Illustration of a small business storefront and a business owner.

9 Small Businesses that Embody Ethical Business Values

National Small Business Week is a time to celebrate the significant impact small businesses have in our local ...
Sep 15, 2021 5 min read