Every limited liability company (LLC) must have a name established in the articles of organization. While every state has its own requirements for establishing an LLC, all include requirements for naming the LLC, such as including the phrase "Limited Liability Company," or "LLC" in the name. Some states also limit the use of other terms in the name of the LLC.
Before just choosing the first name that comes to mind, you'll want to do some research and pick out some names that truly reflect your business values and client base. Follow these steps when choosing the right name for your LLC.
1. Consider the type of business.
Your LLC name should make it clear to customers what your business does. While you don't want the name to be restrictive or prevent expansion of your business, the best names communicate the nature of your business. Your business's name will be the first impression for others, so be sure to make it lasting and positive. Avoid acronyms that become a confusing jumble of letters. Consider whether the name helps you understand what the business does. Review your business plan and mission statement before choosing a name.
2. Include others in the decision.
When choosing the name of your LLC, consult with other people. You do not have a choice when forming the LLC with other owners, also referred to as members. However, even if you plan to create a single-owner LLC, include other people as you choose a name. It's always helpful to bounce ideas off of other people, such as friends and family, to get your creative juices flowing. It also helps prevent an easily misunderstood or unintentionally offensive name.
3. Consult your state's database.
Every state has a database that contains the names of existing businesses. The Secretary of State usually maintains the database and allows online access. You cannot use a name that is too similar to a name already in use in your state. Some states allow you to reserve a name for future use if you've chosen a name but aren't ready to form your LLC. Also keep in mind what other states, if any, you might do business in. You'll need to search those state databases as well to see if the name you want to use is already in use by another LLC.
4. Consider the internet and social media.
Most companies want a website address that is close to or related to the name of their business. Spend some time exploring available website addresses when considering the name of your LLC. Do the same for any social media sites you plan to use. As discussed above, your LLC name must be different from the other businesses in your state, but you also want it to be different enough so you are able to use the website address and social media identifier of your choice.
Choosing an LLC name is necessary, but you do not need to do it alone. Consult other members or friends when deciding on a name. Make sure you have internet access available for any discussion so you can consult your Secretary of State's website and investigate the internet for website availability. Choose a name for your LLC that reflects the nature of your business. Don't forget to comply with any naming rules established by your state for your LLC. Hopefully, you will use it for many successful years to come.
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