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Naming your business is an important part of the startup process. There are numerous aspects to consider when it comes to naming your business, including creating a unique brand identity, name availability, and future viability. There is a good chance that if you’re starting a business, you already have an idea of what to name it, but here are a few things you should consider before doing so.
First, here are some tips when it comes to naming a business:
1. Avoid names that are hard to spell. A hard to spell name can put a barrier between you and your potential customers.
2. Check to see if the domain name is available. Checking to see if a domain name is available prior to deciding on a name will make the process much easier.
3. Conduct a trademark search. To do this, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website at tmsearch.uspto.gov, click on “Basic Word Mark Search (New User)” and type in the name you want to search.
4. Make sure your name doesn’t limit your future growth. While you may want to convey what your business is through your name, if you are planning to expand your business beyond just that, it is important to plan for that now.
5. Conduct a search with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office. You can check the SilverFlume Business Entity Search at nvsilverflume.gov, and you can check the Secretary of State’s Commercial Recordings area to determine if a Nevada Corporation is using the name you have in mind. You should also check with your county clerk’s office to determine if a sole proprietor is using the name or if someone has filed a fictitious name permit using the name.
After you have selected a name for your business, it’s important to protect that name by registering it. There are four main ways to register your business name, which may vary depending on your business structure.
1. Entity name protects you at the state level. Your entity name is how the state identifies your business. The name of all entities under Title 7 must be distinguishable on the records of the state government. You can reserve an entity name by logging into silverflume.gov/login and going to Start Your Business > Reserve an Entity Name.
2. Trademark protects you at a federal level. A trademark can protect the name of your business at a federal level. Trademarks prevent others in the same (or similar) industry in the U.S. from using your trademarked names. You can file for a trademark by visiting www.uspto.gov.
3. Doing business as (DBA) or fictitious name. Every person doing business in the State of Nevada under an assumed or fictitious name that is in any way different from the legal name of each person who owns an interest in the business must file with the county clerk of each county in which the business is being conducted a certificate containing the information required by NRS 602.020. For more information on filing a DBA in Nevada, visit https://bit.ly/2Ly2sjb.
4. Domain name protects your business website address. If you want an online presence for your business, start by registering a domain name — also known as your website address, or URL. Your domain name doesn’t need to be the same as your legal business name, trademark or DBA. You’ll register your domain name through a registrar service. Consult a directory of accredited registrars.
Please join us next month in this series as we help you find an accountant and lawyer that’s right for you.
Rachel McManus, a graduate assistant for the Nevada SBDC, helps small business owners make their dreams a reality.
NCET (www.NCET.org) is a member-supported nonprofit organization that helps people explore business and technology.