How to See if a Business Name is Taken

You’ve come up with a brilliant name for your business- but how do you know if it is already taken? First, you can use popular search engines to see if anything comes up. There are databases that you can search, such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but you should know that there is no all-encompassing place to search. You will likely end up searching in a few different places to verify if a business name is available.

You can do a name search through your state’s Secretary of State office. Here are some helpful links for states in the Northeast:

Connecticut Business Records Search
Maine Department of the Secretary of State Corporate Name Search
Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth Corporations Division
New Hampshire Secretary of State Business Name Lookup
New York Department of State Corporation and Business Entity Database
Rhode Island Department of State Entity Search
Vermont Secretary of State Corporations Division

In addition to searching these, you may also want to browse social media sites, such as LinkedIn, to see if anything similar or identical to your potential name comes up. Sites that have business profiles, such as Yelp, can also be worth checking.

How to See if a Web Domain is Available 

Checking to see if a web domain is available has become almost equally as important as seeing if a business name is (especially if you plan on selling product through your website). You can search domain name registration sites, such as Network Solutions, to see if a domain is up for grabs.

Young business owner with business name ideas on papers
Why Check if a Business Name is Available? 

Why does it matter if your business has the same name as another one? Well, for one, when forming a business entity such as an LLC, you’ll have to file formation documents in your state. If the name you choose is similar or identical to another business name, your formation request could be denied.

If you do business using someone else’s name, they could sue you. There may also be laws against it, depending on where you live. If the headache of a lawsuit isn’t enough to deal with, after discovering a duplicate name, you’ll have to rebrand- meaning replacing signage, business cards, advertising, and the like- which can be very expensive, especially as a new business.

All of those reasons aside, do you want your business name confused with another one? Similar names could hurt your business numbers if they are looking for your product or service, but instead go to your competitor. You want your potential customers to remember your distinct name.

IRS Business tax forms with calculator

How to Choose a Name for Your Business 

Does coming up with a name for your business have you stumped? Whether the name you had in mind is already being used, or you don’t know where to start, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Showcase Your Services

This may seem obvious, but make sure when people hear your business name, they know what you offer. If you are a videographer, consider having “video” or “films” in your name. If you are a recycling company, you might have “Green” or “Earth” in your name.

Connect with Your Target Audience

Think about the client or consumer you are trying to reach. Who are they? Where do they live? If you are targeting a specific area, like a childcare facility wanting to serve certain towns, consider using the town name in part of your business name.

Test Acronyms

 Your business name may be shortened- either by you or by someone else. Save yourself embarrassment and test these acronyms before you commit to a name.

Does My LLC Have to Match My Business Name? 

Your LLC name is used for financial and legal purposes. Your business name is used to market your business. At this time, there is no legal requirement that they have to match. Every state has differing LLC naming rules. You should research your state’s rules, and consider consulting an attorney that specializes in businesses.

female entrepreneurs using a tablet to run an LLC
Can I Name My LLC After Myself? 

If the name is not already taken, you can name your business after yourself. Before you make your decision, think about your future plans for the business. If ever you wanted to sell, it might not be the best choice.

Do I Have to Trademark My Business Name? 

If you are concerned about people using your business name without permission, you can trademark it, but it isn’t necessary. Obtaining a trademark can take time, but it can offer added protection. The decision on whether or not to trademark your name is up to you as a business owner.

Do You Need Insurance Before You Open Your Business? 

Once you complete the required documents and purchase needed equipment, you’ll want to start shopping for insurance policies to protect your new business. What policies you should consider vary depending on what type of business you are starting. Reaching out to a local insurance agent before you start taking clients is a wise choice. It doesn’t matter if your business has been open for 6 days or 6 years- life can happen. Our third-generation insurance agency has offices throughout New England, New York, and Florida. Getting in touch with a local professional is as simple as filling out our form here. You can also find a list of phone numbers for all of our offices here.


This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be relied upon or used for any particular purpose. Cross Insurance shall not be held responsible in any way for, and specifically disclaims any liability arising out of or in any way connected to, reliance on or use of any of the information contained in this article. The information contained or referenced in this article is not intended to constitute and should not be considered legal, insurance, accounting or other professional advice, nor shall it serve as a substitute for the recipient obtaining such advice. The views expressed in this article are that of its author and do not necessarily represent the views of Cross Financial Corp. and its subsidiaries and affiliates (“Cross Insurance”) or Cross Insurance’s management or shareholders.

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