No, you’re not stuck with that name forever
Maybe your business has changed, and its name no longer reflects what it’s all about. Maybe you’re entering a new market or expanding in a new direction. Maybe you’re tired of being mistaken for some other guy with a similar name or logo.
Whatever the reason, you’ve made up your mind: you’re changing the name of your business.
|How do I name my business in the first place?|
|Why would I need to change the name?|
|How do I change the name?|
|What kind of follow-up is necessary?|
How do I name my business in the first place?
When you’re starting a business, picking and registering a name is among the first steps.
When you’re registering your business as a distinct legal entity, like an LLC or a corporation, choosing a legal name is a key part of the process. When you’re filing your Articles of Incorporation – the set of documents defining your new company to the state – the name you’re choosing for your business will be right at the top.
It’s a fairly straightforward process. Once you’ve completed your Articles of Incorporation, turn it in (along with a small fee) to the secretary of state office for the state in which you’re based.
If you’re not registering your business as an LLC or a corporation, but you don’t want to just operate under your own name either, you register a DBA.
DBA stands for “Doing Business As,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a name your business uses in its everyday operations. For some businesses, like sole proprietorships or side hustles, this is the only name the business needs.
You’re not limited to a single DBA, either. Your business can operate under multiple names with DBAs, which can be useful. For instance, your usual name might not work as well in a different area. LLCs and corporations can also use DBAs to operate under other names or variations of their name.
DBAs can be registered with county or state agencies like your local clerk’s office.
If you want ownership over your name beyond the statewide protection granted from registering your business, go to the US Patent Office and file a trademark. This gives you exclusive nationwide rights to use your name in your industry, including the right to make a profit from the name.
Why would I need to change the name?
Circumstances like bad press or a lawsuit can make changing your name an obvious decision. But sometimes your business just outgrows the old name. You might enter a new market or change your client base.
How do I change the name?
Changing the name of an LLC or corporation
- Make sure the name you want is available: Check your state's business name search (usually through the Department of State or Secretary of State), check the USPTO trademark database, check a search engine, check social media.
- Make sure the name you want follows regulations: Each state has different requirements, so check with your local business bureau. For instance, in Florida, corporation names must clearly indicate they're a corporation and can't purposely misrepresent the business' activities.
- Approve a resolution to change the business name: Follow the procedure laid out in the LLC operating agreement or corporation bylaws to have the owners or shareholders agree to the name change.
- Prepare and file your Articles of Amendment: Check with your state's filing office and follow the procedure to amend your Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation.
Changing a DBA
Changing a DBA is pretty much exactly as straightforward as registering one in the first place: just fill out a form at the appropriate local or state agency (county clerk’s office, etc.) and pay a modest fee and you’re all set. It’s a different form, though, so make sure you grab the right one.
How much does it cost?
Speaking of modest fees, fortunately, registering your new name isn’t too pricey. It depends on the state, but it can range from $20 to $150 for an LLC or $15 to $100 for a DBA. Not bad!
What kind of follow-up is necessary?
In many ways, the hard part comes after you’ve legally changed the name of your business.
Any internal documents, like the LLC operating or corporate bylaws, must be updated to reflect the name change.
The bank and the IRS both need to be informed of the name change, and tax IDs like sales and payroll need updating along with any business licenses or permits. This is also the time to check if your state requires you to update your Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Your websites, letterheads, polo shirts, and water bottles (anything with your old name on it) all need to be updated, too, which might be the most tedious part of the entire process.
And don’t forget to inform your clients!
You’re not locked into the name of your business. In fact, changing the name can be very easy – at least on the legal side of things. But as long as you’re diligent about updating your branding and letting everyone know about the name change, you shouldn’t have a problem.
Schedule a call with DiMercurio Advisors and ask about how easy we can make it to set up your new business.