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Does the Name of Your Business Really Matter?

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Business Attorney

The title to this article sums up a question that I’ve been asked many times when it comes to helping clients create and set up their business. So, does the name of the business really matter when it comes to setting or operating the business? The answer is, yes and no. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to be cute. I really will answer this question for you.

I’ll start by saying that the attorneys on our premier Idaho business law team at the Racine law office include partners Lane Erickson and TJ Budge, and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each of the attorneys on our team is skilled, knowledgeable, and experience in assisting clients with their business needs including creating and operating their business. We have the ability to help you move your business forward by guiding you through and helping you with any of your business issues including naming your business.

Hang in there with me, I really am going to answer the question. However, before we do this, we’re going to talk first about how you come up with a business name for your business and what you do with that business name to make sure that it is protected.

How Do You Come Up with a Business Name?

A business name is like naming a person. In most instances you should take some time to carefully select the name that you want to use for your business. This is especially true if you plan on turning your business into a corporation or an LLC. Anytime you are using an entity as part of your business structure, you are required to register the name of your business with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office.

So how does this really work? When I have a client come to be saying they want to start an LLC, the very first question I ask them is what do you want the name of your business to be? I then usually ask them to provide me with two or three other choices for names for the business. The reason for this is that the first step I take is to check the Idaho Secretary of State’s business listings to make sure that the business name they want to use is not already being used by some other business owner.

If the name my client wants to use is already being used, then we cannot register that name with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office. In other words, if a name is already being used, then we have to come up with a different name. Once we have a unique name, which is one that is not already being used, we can move forward with registering it with the Idaho Secretary of State.

Once a name is registered, that name is now protected and cannot be used by any other business entities in the state of Idaho. So, one short answer to the question of does the business name really matter, is yes when it comes to registering a name with the Idaho Secretary of State. In this circumstance, the name must be unique so that it does not infringe upon the use of that name by a different business.

When a Business Name Doesn’t Matter

The main circumstance that I have found where a business name really doesn’t matter, other than making sure it can be registered with the Idaho Secretary of State, is when the business is simply owning property. In other words, if the business name itself is not going to be used or is not necessarily important when it comes to promoting the business to clients, then the business name really doesn’t matter.

For example, let’s say you’ve decided that you want to invest in residential rental properties or commercial property that you can rent out to tenants. In this circumstance, the tenant probably is not going to care what the name of your business is. Rather, all they are going to care about is where the property is located, how much it costs to rent the property, and whether that property will actually work for their needs.

There are many other circumstances that are similar to this one. In short, if you are not using the name as part of your marketing program, then it doesn’t matter what the name of your business is. Again, this is true so long as the name you’ve chosen to use is not already being used by another business.

When a Business Name Might Matter

If, on the other hand, your business is service-oriented, or your business creates a unique product, the name of your business could be more important. In this circumstance, you can use the name of your business as part of your marketing campaign.

For example, let’s say that you have a business that services and installs lawn sprinkler systems. In this circumstance, the name of the business could make a difference for you. Would you rather have a business named A&B LLC, or Premium Lawn Sprinkler Systems, LLC? This is just an example, and the name used here is really not that creative of one. But the idea is easy to understand. In a service-oriented business, the name of the business may help attract people to patronize your business.

Can You Change Your Business Name?

The next thing I’ll discuss in this article is whether or not you can change your business name once it’s already been registered. The short answer is yes. Again, the key is to make sure the name you are changing to is not already taken or used by some other business. If the name is not used, not a name change is rather simple.

All that really needs to be done is the owner of the business sends in the appropriate form and fee to change the name of the business registration with the Idaho Secretary of State. Once that is completed, the Idaho Secretary of State’s office will provide paperwork to you showing that the business name has been changed. The only other things that would need to be done is changing the name on signs, on bank accounts, and also with all tax filings.

So, what’s in a business name? It really depends on the business, and what it is the business owner wants to accomplish. If you have questions about starting a business, or changing the name of your business, we have helped numerous clients through these processes that we are confident that we can help you too. Please contact us for a free 30-minute consultation where we can discuss your ideas and provide you with a solution.

Enlist an Idaho Business Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho business lawyers can help you with any of your business structure or operation needs. Whether you are seeking to create a new business or review a current business, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at lane@racineolson.com or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho business problems.

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