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Choosing the right name for your business

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2023 | Business Formations

Embarking on the exciting journey of starting a business in California involves a lot of preparation, including choosing your business structure and coming up with a business plan. However, you should also devote considerable effort to selecting a name for your enterprise.

A business name must meet state legal requirements or you might not be able to use it. You could also end up the target of a lawsuit from a company with an identical or similar name. Understanding state guidelines should steer you away from possible legal pitfalls.

Make your name distinctive

Before settling on a name, conduct a thorough search to ensure its availability. The California Secretary of State online business search tool allows you to verify whether your desired name is already in use. This helps you avoid infringement on existing businesses and ensures a smoother registration process.

Include required terms

Depending on how you structure your business, you will have to include the appropriate legal identifier in your name. For example, if you plan to operate as a limited liability company, your name should include “LLC” as part of it. Similarly, businesses that are corporations should contain an approved term, such as “corporation.”

Avoid prohibited words

While your company name should accurately present what your business is, it must also not include any words that could mislead the public into thinking your company is something it is not. For instance, it cannot include the word “incorporated” if it is not a corporation. Also, some words that imply government affiliation or specific professional services may require additional approvals before you can use them.

Given that small businesses comprise 99.8% of all California businesses, there is a good chance your business will be in this category, so you will probably investigate how to create a legally compliant small business name. Still, choosing any business name in California involves a strategic blend of creativity and compliance.