What’s In a Name?


Continuing with our Texas LLC Formation series, today’s topic will cover naming your soon-to-be global enterprise. There are a few steps and only one or two things to really be careful about. The great part about choosing a name in the State of Texas is the tools they provide to let you search, choose and reserve a name before you make the big leap.

What’s In a Name?

Is the Name Available?

Texas has a funky looking website provided by the Secretary of State: SOSDirect. Once you have compiled a list of possible names (more on this later) you can use the SOSDirect portal to search for availability. At $1 per search, this is not a bad way to spend your pocket money. Before you do those searches, however, look and see if the URL is available too.

Domain Name Search

There is a chance you’ve already made a website before deciding to file your business name with the state. If so, ignore this. If not, and you think you’d like to have a website as part of your business model – you should do a domain name search. You don’t want to be Ken’s Classic Cars and have to end up with KensKlassicKars.com. You can see the implications that might have. [no political or racial associations are being made]

Check out BlueHost’s Domain search here.

Naming Guidelines

Be sure to follow the extensive, yet manageable, naming guidelines. Here’s a few to get you started:

  • Your business name can’t be deceptively similar to an established business’s name;
  • Don’t pretend to be a government entity or falsely implicate your type of business;
  • No grossly offensive names – keep it classy;
  • The name can’t contain anything to do with the Olympics – ??? This one came out of nowhere;
  • Must contain some form or abbreviation of the entity type, LLC or Limited Liability Corporation or similar.

For the complete text on naming guidelines, see the official Texas guidelines here.

Once you get all of that research done, you can go ahead and reserve your entity name using Form 501. The name reservation will last for 120 days and can be renewed during the last 30 days of reservation. Remember, filing this form doesn’t start your business, it just holds the name with the state.

Assumed Names or “Doing Business As”

This is a broad category that I’ll touch on more next week. This is something done at the county level and lets you really dial in your name if the one you want is taken. It also can give you some leeway if you feel that you want to expand your enterprise and not be “name limited”. By that, I mean AAA Industries rather than AAA Cat Food. Some day you may want to sell dog food too. I’ll talk more about this in the next post when we dig into choosing a name.

Let us know your thoughts about business naming and any hiccups you might have had along the way!

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