As of 2019, there were 30.7 million small businesses in the United States (US), accounting for 99.9% of total businesses. Many of those starting businesses or looking to start businesses are in the age group commonly referred to as millennials. When asked what the biggest obstacles to millennials starting a business were, many replied that they did not have the finances to start a business or that they did not know how to start a business. Knowing how to obtain financing is in fact part of knowing how to start a business. Therefore, educating millennials and the population generally on how to start a business will be important if small businesses are to continue to thrive in the US.
There are many steps to starting a business. One which may seem simple, but can be quite complex, is choosing a business name. This is one of the first steps that needs to be taken before a business can come into existence. A business name is an important part of branding and marketing. It should therefore capture the essence of the business. Naturally, it should also be something that the business owner loves.
An important thing for any prospective business owner to learn, is that once you have chosen the perfect name, you should not sit on your laurels. Steps need to be taken to ensure that the name will belong to your business.
Make Sure the Name is Available
No business may operate under the same name as another. Given the sheer number of businesses in the US, this creates an obvious obstacle to new business owners as the first name, or first several names, you come up with may already be taken. It is therefore important to do a name search in the particular state in which the business is to operate.
This step is necessary even if the name you are looking to use is a ‘doing business as’ (DBA) name as opposed to a legal name.
Register a URL
Having an online presence is important for potentially all businesses. Having the perfect name, even if available, will not help if a domain using that name already exists. Prospective business owners should therefore make sure that the domain is available and if so, register a URL before anyone else has the chance to.
Reserve the Business Name
It may be the case that the perfect business name is available, and a URL registered, but the business that should be attached to that name is not quite ready to get off the ground. In such a scenario, to avoid losing the name, prospective business owners can reserve a business name. This will give you enough time to get your business operation ready, as depending on the state, reservations last between 30 days and one year. Prospective business owners should keep aware of this time period and make sure to incorporate their business before it lapses.
An entity looking to incorporate in several states will also need to make sure to reserve the name in each and every state. This can get expensive, as the cost of registering a name in each state ranges from $10 in Oklahoma to $140 in Pennsylvania. So if the business is ready to incorporate, it may be best to avoid the unnecessary extra step and extra expenses. Although this is not possible in Alabama where a name must be reserved, at the cost of $10, before a business can be incorporated. Conversely, Florida does not offer name reservation services at all. It is therefore very important to be aware of the rules in each state.
Consider a Name Reservation Service
Since reserving a name involves extra work for an already busy entrepreneur as well as knowledge of the rules in the relevant state, for anyone who would like to reserve a name, it may be worth enlisting the assistance of a name reservation service, most of which are fairly reasonably priced. An online platform like Incorporation Rocket can provide further information on business name reservation services such as BizFIlings and MyCorporation.
It is important to spread knowledge regarding the steps required to start a business in the US, such as how to come up with a business name and then reserve that name. Name reservation may be an unnecessary extra step and extra expense for some, but for others who need time to get ther business off the ground, a business name reservation service may be of assistance.