Greetings, dear entrepreneur! Settling on a name for your LLC can be a toughie, but don’t you fret. Many fellow founders have faced this same predicament, so you’re in good company! But let me tell you this: the perfect name doesn’t exist. Bummer, I know. However, fear not! I’ve got 25 snappy tricks up my sleeve that’ll help you pinpoint a smashin’ name for your business. So, without further ado, join me on this thrill ride as we explore my top-notch tips for naming your LLC!
Don’t Overthink the name of your LLC
Well, well, well, look who’s ready to name their LLC! Let me tell you, it’s easier than ordering pizza. You can use your name, your kids’ initials, or even the street name where you grew up playing hopscotch. Feeling fancy? Go ahead and name your biz after your favorite constellation or use a clever play on words of your name! Just remember to keep it unique and avoid any boring, generic names. After all, your LLC is a reflection of you, and you’re unique and fabulous, my friend. Take a chill pill, breathe, and pick a name that’ll make your biz thrive and bring a smile to your face!
You only need one legal name for your LLC
“Who knew naming your LLC could be such a head-scratcher? Don’t get bogged down with the thought of setting up a whole new LLC for each product or service you’re selling, my friend. That’s just overkill. Your LLC name doesn’t have to match your offerings – go crazy! Just make sure you have one legal name to rule them all. And if you want to get fancy with multiple DBA names or fictitious business names, go ahead and add some extra pizzazz to your limited liability company! You’ve got this.”
Follow the rules in your state
Ah, the joys of naming your legal business. Before you slap on a catchy name and call it a day, make sure to follow the state-specific rules and regulations. These guidelines might seem tedious, but they’re important in making sure your business name stands out, doesn’t mislead anyone, and is all-around unique. Trust me; you don’t want to risk having your Articles of Organization rejected and losing filing fees. Ouch. To avoid any mishaps, take a deep breath and research the naming requirements for each state thoroughly. Yes, I know it’s not the most exciting task, but it’s crucial if you want a seamless process. So, go ahead and put on your researching hat – your future business will thank you for it!
Use a modifier for your LLC name
When you submit your Articles of Organization, don’t forget to include the proper modifier in your name.
These could include:
- Limited Liability Company
- Limited Liability Co.
- Ltd. Liability Co.
Do a name search first – How to check if your LLC name is available
Ahoy, matey! Before you set sail on the LLC journey, it’s best to hoist your spyglass and conduct a wee bit of name searchin’. Most states have an online database that’ll make finding out whether your LLC name is available a piece of pirate’s booty. Just remember: your name needs to be both unique (no other swashbucklers using it) and distinguishable (can’t be mistaken for another name). If ye don’t do the name search, ye might end up walking the plank with a rejected application and a loss of your filing fee. So don’t be a scallywag, matey – do the name search beforehand and set sail with gusto!
Do not use any prohibited or restricted words
Well, well, well. Looks like you’re on the path to naming your business. Don’t let the power get to your head, pal. You can’t just go throwing around big-shot titles like “doctor” or “healthcare” if you ain’t qualified. And if you’re from a state like Florida, steer clear of jargon that might make someone think you’re Uncle Sam’s long lost lovechild. Don’t forget about the “no-no” lists published by the usual suspects like New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Relax, take a deep breath, and keep it simple and kosher. You got this, champ!
Use multiple DBA’s for your LLC
“Oh, torn between two names for your LLC? No worries! Let me introduce you to the magical world of fictitious names or ‘doing business as’ (DBA). You can file a DBA for a different name under the name of your LLC, oh yeah! Our recommendation? Use a generic name for your business entity and then file a DBA name that’s more product or service specific. If that brand doesn’t do the trick, no problemo! You can always file a new DBA for another product or service. And wait, there’s more! You can also use DBAs after you’ve settled on a name you want to trademark and then file a DBA for that specific name. Ta-da!”
Don’t worry about trademarking your name… yet
So, trademarking…it’s a necessary evil for some businesses but not always for online startups. Don’t jump the gun and waste time and money on a trademark application when you don’t even know what product you’ll be slinging. Plus, you can’t trademark a name until you’re using it for actual commerce. So, focus on building your brand and making sure you’re not stepping on anyone else’s trademark toes. And if you ever do decide to trademark your company name, let your LLC be the holder of that shiny new trademark while you continue to dazzle the interwebs with your various products and services. Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll be selling your business and keeping the LLC just like a hoarder keeps shiny trinkets.
Have fun with your name
Are you stressing about naming your business? Don’t! This is where you get to let your hair down and have some fun. Bring your family on board and brainstorm some unique, kooky business names that reflect your personality and values. One of my faves is Pat Flynn’s original LLC name, Flynndustries, which couldn’t be further away from his Smart Passive Income brand. But man, was it creative! So, let’s get those cogs turning, folks. What wild and wacky name can you come up with for your LLC? The crazier, the better!
Reserve your name if you aren’t ready to form your LLC
Oh, I can hear you saying, “Sounds great in theory, but what if I’m not quite ready to commit to an LLC?” Fear not, there are plenty of reasons why you might not be quite ready to take the plunge just yet. Perhaps you’re still working out the kinks in your business plan, or maybe you’re waiting to move to a bigger and better location. Or, let’s be real, you might just be comfortable flying solo for a bit. Regardless of your reasons, you can still file a DBA under your personal name if you’re operating as a sole proprietorship. And if you want to reserve a name in your home state, just be sure to check the rules first. Kansas might be the only state that doesn’t allow you to file a DBA, but there could be other quirks to keep in mind.
Pick a name you don’t anticipate changing
While it is not impossible to change the name of your LLC after the fact, it can be difficult for a variety of reasons.
- You will need to update all of your contracts to reflect the new LLC name
- You will need to update your web properties, privacy policies, terms of service and terms of sale
- You may need to update your information with your payment processor (i.e. Stripe, Paypal, etc.)
- You will need to update your name with the IRS and your state revenue department.
- If you are collecting sales taxes, your name will need to be update with the state.
- You will need to file Articles of Amendment with the secretary of state that can cost time and money with additional filing fees and reporting requirements to complete an LLC name change.
For these reasons, you should be sure that you feel good about the name you choose and that you do not anticipate changing it anytime soon.
Use Your Initials
If you are at a complete loss for what to name your LLC, and you definitely don’t want to use your personal name, then consider using your initials or even the initials of your children.
There was a time when CSH Holding Company, LLC was on the radar for my LLC name. CSH are the first initials of my kids – but that name was already taken.
Make the name generic
When I’m working with clients to help them set up their LLC, I typically recommend they pick a generic name.
The reason for this is that we want their name to work with a number of different business ideas.
If the name you choose for your LLC is too specific to a certain industry, then you run the risk of becoming misleading if you change course with your business. This of course would necessitate a name change in the future (which you should avoid for reasons already mentioned).
Use a play on words when naming your LLC
One of my favorite LLC names was Pat Flynn’s “Flynndustries, LLC”. This is an excellent example of a great use of play on words.
As you were growing up, did you have a nickname or did people call you a name that was derived from your last name, but not quite the same?
If you can find a new or different way to incorporate your name into the name of your LLC, that is a fantastic way to create a unique and distinctive name for your business.
Don’t try to trick people
A great way to get your name rejected is to try and fool people into thinking your LLC is in a different business than it actually is. This is a great reason that you should use a generic or arbitrary name.
If you are not in the business of selling legal services, then you should not use “law firm” or “legal” in your name. If you aren’t an accountant or selling tax preparation services, then keep “taxes” out of your name.
Consider using your personal name
I keep going back to the idea of using your personal name because it is one of the easiest names you can use for your LLC.
Of course there are exceptions. If you have a common name such as “Tom Smith” or someone else has already filed an LLC with your name, then this obviously won’t work.
But if you are just looking for an easy name and you want to build a personal brand, then just using your name as the name of your LLC is a great plan.
If your name is hard to spell, do this…
What about the situation where you want to use your personal name for the name of your LLC, but it is too hard to spell…
This is a common question, but not a huge problem. My recommendation is to either move forward with your name as it is spelled (remember that you will likely be selling under a different brand name anyway), or find a way to simplify your name.
A perfect example of this is Gary Vaynerchuk. Rather than use his full name in his online brand, he has become known as “Gary Vee”. And for his media company, he titled it “VaynerMedia”.
Everyone knows that Gary Vee is Gary Vaynerchuk, but Gary has found a unique way to express himself online through a simplified name.
Which means that you need to…
Make it easy to pronounce
Even though you may not be using the name of your LLC as the face of your business, you will still need this name to open a bank account, sign contracts, and complete other business.
A name that is hard to pronounce and/or spell increases the likelihood that someone (not associated with your business) will make an administrative error that could cause you problems down the line.
So try and find a name that is easy to pronounce and spell.
Don’t be too clever
But don’t be too clever with your name.
Many people come up with clever sounding names that they think sound cool, but it’s possible that they are the only one getting the joke.
Before you attempt to use a name that sounds funny or clever to you, run it by your friends or family members to see what they think.
Don’t be too specific
One big mistake I see from people forming LLC’s is to use a name that is specific to what they are selling.
For example, if you are a web designer, then you could name your LLC “Jane’s Web Services, LLC”. While this is completely normal and fine to do, I don’t recommend it.
When you make your name too specific to what you are selling, then if you decide to change the way you do business at some point, then you will have to deal with all the problems that come up in changing your name.
Brainstorm multiple options
If you are really struggling to come up with an idea for your business name, then take 20-30 minutes and brainstorm all of the ideas you can think of.
Just write down whatever comes to mind for this brainstorming session.
Don’t second guess yourself. Just get it all down on paper.
Set a timer and when the timer goes off, take another look at your list.
If nothing pops out at you, then try to narrow your list down to the top 5 ideas.
Sleep on it before making a final decision
The next step, after you have your list down to 5-10 names, take a couple of days to make a final decision. This is an important decision and you don’t want to rush it.
Sleep on it for a night or two and see if any ideas “speak to you.”
Ask your friends and family what they think
If you still can’t make a final decision, ask your friends and family what they think. But remember that at the end of the day, this is your business and you are the one that should make the final call.
Consider social media
Another way to narrow down your list is to think about how your name will sound on social media.
Even more important than that is whether or not your proposed names are even available on social media!
You can narrow down your list by cross-referencing various social media platforms to see if your names are available.
A great tool to help you with this is Namechekr.
How will your LLC name fit into your overall marketing strategy?
As mentioned above, in most situations, the name of your LLC will not be reflective of your overall business.
Remember, your LLC is merely a legal vehicle to receive income for your business, and protect your personal assets from your business debts.
After you set up your LLC, you can file separate DBA names that represent the various brands of products and services that your business is offering.
As such, except for in the rarest of circumstances, your LLC name will have no bearing on your overall marketing strategy.
Is the domain name available?
Although you may not use the name of your LLC in your marketing strategy, you may want to build a website around the name of your company.
If this is the case, then having an available domain name may be important to you.
To narrow down your list of potential names, you can use Namecheap to check on domain names.
Do a trademark search if you are using something unique
Although I’ve mentioned several times in this post that you should use a generic and arbitrary name for your LLC, I know that there will still be people out there who still want to name their LLC after the brand of product or service they are selling.
If this is the case, then it is vitally important that you do a thorough trademark search at the Federal level first. Even though your chosen LLC name may be available in your state, that does NOT mean that the brand name is not a deceptively similar name to another brand or trade name that is registered to a company through the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).
For more information on how to complete a trademark search, click here.
Are you proud of your proposed LLC name?
So you are narrowing your choices and about to make a final decision. The last question you should be asking yourself is “am I proud of this name?”
Remember, this is a name that you will be associated with for as long as you are in business for yourself (even if you sell your business, you will likely keep your LLC and sell only the assets).
Are you happy with your choice?
Does it make you proud when you think about your name?
If so, then you are ready to move forward.
Make sure you like your name
At the end of the day, you are the one who has to live with this name. And chances are, you will have this name for a very long time. Make sure you like it.
How to Name Your LLC? Make a decision and move forward
Hopefully by now you have more than enough information to come up with the best possible name for your LLC.
When you are ready to move forward, here is a link to start your first LLC.
Not Legal Advice
This post should not be taken as legal advice. This post is only for informational purposes, and if you need legal support or advice, you can schedule a strategy session with a business consultant at Biz n Brand, LLC.