Thursday, May 17, 2012
Legal Checklist: Finding a name!
Naming your business is your first legal decision! So now you have polished up your idea and you are ready to find that perfect name for your new small business. I see loads of really cute and funny or clever names out there but rarely does the chosen name tell me anything about what they do. Consider a business name that gives customers at least a hint about what you will be selling. For me, Lulu Max is not just my business name she is my alter ego. My name was being used for my law practice or I would have just used Tara Wilson Art Jewelry. Instead I used the names of my chihuahuas Lulu and Max to create Lulu Max Art Jewelry.
Now that you have a few ideas for potential names it is time to do a bit of research. Are you sensing a pattern yet? At each step of the checklist you will have a bit of homework. Sorry- I know we all hate homework. You could pay someone to help you start your business and do the research but it it not necessary. (Not to mention expensive.) You can do this!
First, you must make sure your chosen name is not being used. Start with a simple Google search of the name and see what pops up. There should be nothing similar popping up on Google. If you get hits on the name go back to the drawing board. Once you pass the Google search without finding your business name it is time to proceed to the California state website at Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development. There is a ton of information including links to check and see if the name is incorporated in the state of California. The site is complex so give yourself time to explore it fully and take advantage of all the amazing FREE information that is offered. They use checklists too which I love.
Even when you have carefully researched the availability of a name it is possible that the name you have chosen is already taken or a copyrighted phrase. Be prepared and have a "plan B" name. If you are contacted in any manner by a company or individual claiming that you cannot use your chosen business name do not ignore the request. It is time to seek legal advice immediately. There is always risk in starting a small business. Good research will help you avoid some of the risk so take the time and do your homework.
FInding the perfect name for your business is challenging but it is your first step is creating your brand and launching your idea! I would love it if you would post your business name and a brief bit about what you sell in the comments!
Lulu- I mean Tara