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What should you do before you name your business?

You've wanted to start a business for a long time, and after much debate, you even came up with a name you think is clever and memorable. The reality is that the name may already be taken, so you need to make sure that's not the case.

When you're ready to start a business, one of the things you'll want to do is to make sure you can get the name you want. You know what you want your business to do and even have your suppliers and financing ready, but without a name, you have no brand.

Remember that you do need to make sure to verify that the name you want is available. On top of that, you need to make sure any name you choose is not too similar to other businesses' names, since they could ask you to stop using your business's name if that's the case.

To do a name search, there are a few things you can try. To start with, look online, in the Yellow Pages and in newspapers. If no business comes up with your business name, there's a good chance you're in the clear.

Another thing to do is to look at the fictitious name database. This is kept by the state or county. All registered business names in the state are on that list. There is another list that contains the names of LLCs, corporations and limited partnerships.

If the name is available, you can register it and protect it against others who may wish to use it in the future.

Source: FindLaw, "Starting Your Business: Business Name Availability," accessed May 24, 2018

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