The first step to creating your small business is choosing the right name. The name should represent your industry, field or expertise while being catchy, memorable, and relevant to your customers or clientele. However, there are a few simple steps to consider before registering an official name for your future business.
Naming your business can be a stressful process. You want to choose a name that will last and, if possible, will embody both your values and your company's distinguishing characteristics. But screening long lists of names with a focus group composed of friends and family can return mixed results.
Technical aspects of choosing the right name –
Most start-ups are internet related and which have the most important property is the domain name and website or any app. You have to always find the domain name before choosing your company name. Sometimes most popular TLD domain like .Com is not available but you can choose a domain name where most of the popular old domain is available.
Think You're Cut out for Doing Choose the Right Name for Your Business? Take This Quiz
First impressions count - customers may infer a lot from your business name.
While it may be tempting to try to stamp your individual personality on your business name, there are many other issues to consider. Being objective and choosing a name that reflects your business strategy can be more valuable, especially as your business develops.
This guide shows you how to create the right impression, display your business name, consider whether your business name will be your brand and get your name on the web. It also outlines the specific rules that you must follow when choosing a company name for a limited company, limited liability partnership, sole trader or partnership.
2. Choosing a business name to create the right impression
Your business name will be the cornerstone of your brand. When choosing a name for your business, you should think about the following points:
- · Do you want the name to reflect what your business does - moving, cleaning, building? Or would something more abstract be suitable?
- · Would it be a good idea to include your own name?
- · Do you want a traditional-sounding name, conveying durability and old-fashioned values, or a modern name, suggesting a fresh, innovative approach?
- · Think about the future - avoid words or phrases that are likely to date quickly.
- · If you're likely to be trading overseas, check that the name doesn't mean anything inappropriate in the relevant languages
- · Think about callers and customers - avoid very long names, strange wordings and unusual spelling. If you're planning to advertise in directories such as the Yellow Pages, think about using a name that appears near the beginning of the listings for your type of business
- · If you're focusing on the local market for your product or service, think about using the name of the city or town in the business name
- · Keep your trading name creative, but your corporate name bland. This will give you the flexibility to develop other brands and trading names in the future.
3. Names for limited companies and LLPs
If you have decided to form a limited company or limited liability partnership (LLP), you must register your name and other details with Companies House.
Company and LLP names - the rules
To make sure the name you choose is acceptable, ensure that your name:
- ends with 'limited' (or Ltd), 'public limited company' (or plc)
- ends with 'limited liability partnership' a or LLP (if you have a limited liability partnership)
- isn't offensive
- isn't the same as one already on the index of company names
- doesn't include any sensitive words or expressions (unless you have obtained permission to use them)
You should ensure your proposed name is not the same or very similar to a registered trade mark.
Complaints about company or LLP names
You can make a complaint about a company or LLP name to Companies House if:
· the name is too similar to an existing company or LLP name
· within five years of registration, it is found that misleading information was given at the time of registration
· within five years of registration any conditions attached to the registration have not been fulfilled - eg the provision of support documentation for a sensitive name
· the name is misleading and as a result may cause harm to the public
You can also make a complaint about a company or LLP name to the Company Names Tribunal at the Intellectual Property Office if you believe the name has been chosen for opportunistic reasons.
4. Names for sole traders, partnerships and limited partnerships
People operating as sole traders or in general partnerships can trade under their own names, or choose a different business name.
If you decide to use a business name, it must not:
· be offensive
· include the terms public limited company (plc), limited (ltd), limited liability partnership (LLP)
· contain prescribed or sensitive words and expressions, unless you have obtained permission to use them
If you register a limited partnership you must include either 'Limited Partnership' or 'LP' at the end of your business name.
Is anyone else using your proposed business name?
Before using your chosen name, check that it isn't already being used.
If a sole trader at the other end of the country is using it, there may not be a problem. However, if another local business, company or national firm is using it, you should choose a different name.
You should do the following checks:
· check local phone books, business directories and the internet
· make sure that your proposed name - or something similar - hasn't been registered by a company
· Make sure that the name isn't too similar to a word or expression that has been registered as a trade mark.
5. Use of sensitive words and expressions in business names
These are words that might give a false impression about your business.
The rules about sensitive words apply to all types of businesses and fall into five main groups:
· words that suggest your business is of national importance or status - eg British, National, International, European
· words that suggest a special status - eg Association, Authority, Chartered, Council, Institute, Society
· words that suggest a particular function - eg Charity, Insurance, Register, Trust
· words that suggest a specialized activity - eg Health Center
· words that suggest connections with government or royalty Parliament - eg Government, Royal, Queen, Prince
6. Displaying and disclosing your business, company or limited liability partnership name
Every business must display its business name - and other details - to inform customers and suppliers who they are dealing with. You should not print your stationery until you're certain your proposed name is acceptable.
You must display a sign with your company or LLP name:
- In a place where visitors can easily and clearly see it at any time and not just during business hours
You must also include your company's or LLP's registered name on all hard copy and electronic business correspondence including
- letters, notices and other official publications
- emails,bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsements and order forms
- cheques signed by or on behalf of the company
- orders for money, goods or services signed by or on behalf of the company
- bills of parcels, invoices and other demands for payment, receipts and letters of credit
your website - you do not need to include the company name on every page but it must be displayed so it can be easily read
You do not have to state directors' names on business letters unless you want to do so. However, if you do decide to include directors' names, then you must state all the directors' names.
If you are an LLP with more than 20 members, you don't need to display the members' names. However, you must keep a list of members at your principal place of business and state that the list is available for inspection.
Displaying a name online
If your business has a website, you must display:
· general information about your business - including business name, address, email address, VAT registration number (if applicable)
· details of any relevant professional body that you belong to or any authorisation scheme to which your service is subject
7. Getting your business name on the internet
Even if you are not intending to create a website for your business immediately, you'll probably be using email and want to have a presence on the web at some point in the future.
Choosing a domain name
The website address - for example, my-new-business.co.uk - is known as a domain name. For most businesses based in the UK, a name ending with .co.uk is suitable. Your email address will normally include this name - for example, email@example.com.
Businesses and individuals that meet certain criteria can apply for the .eu domain extension - for example, www.my-new-business.eu.
If your business is active in other European Union countries, the .eu domain name can help you market your company as a pan-European business.
To reserve a domain name for your business, you need to register it through an agent, who will charge a small annual fee. You should do this as soon as possible - even if you're not going to use your domain name straight away.Registering your domain name
- Decide on a suitable domain name for your website - You can use numbers as well as letters. Hyphens can be used to separate words but not spaces, full stops or other punctuation. It's a good idea to have a few alternative names in case your first choice has already been taken.
- Check whether the name is available on the official registry for UK domain names, Nominee
- Register the name - you can do this online with any registration agent. There are hundreds of registration agents to choose from - a good starting point is nominated.