When selecting a business name, include in your market research. . .
- The response of potential customers to the potential name. Is it favorable? Is the name easily recognized?
- Other businesses or entities using that name or something similar.
Register Your Business Name
Be sure to protect your name by registering it. Trademark registration, achieved via the US Patent and Trademark Office, protects your name at the federal level. Learn how to register as an entity in your state by reviewing their requirements (see the “Look up your state” menu on sba.gov’s “Register your business“).
Your Website Domain Name
You will also need a presence on the internet. Selecting a domain name may affect your business name selection and vice versa. Find a domain name for your website that corresponds to the business name. Make sure no one is using a similar name or the same name with a different file extension. It should be fairly simple, catchy, obvious, easy to say out loud, and easy to remember. If a social media presence will be important for your product, check to make sure the domain name or a truncated version is available on social media platforms.
Doing Business As (DBA)
Depending on your business structure and local laws, if the name of your business is different from your name (or your partner’s name), you may need to file the name you are “doing business as.” Depending on where your business is located, you may file via a local or county clerk’s office or a state agency. The fee is around $100.
Resources on Business Names
Choosing a Name for Your Life Science Company, Product, or Service – By David Chapin, Forma Life Science Marketing, 2014. Includes a discussion of what to consider and eight steps that end with selecting a name.
The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Business Domain Name – By Georgia McIntyre, Fundera, November 19, 2020.
DBA (Doing Business As): What is it, and how do I register? – Nerdwallet, 2022.
Tax ID Numbers
You will need a federal tax ID number and may need a state ID tax number. Taxes a business needs to consider include the following:
- Federal taxes: Employee income, employee social security, employee Medicare, excise, corporation income, and unemployment
- State taxes: Franchise, income, unemployment, sales use, and state disability
- Local taxes: Personal property, real estate
Federal Tax ID Number
Employer Identification Number (EIN): After registering your business, apply for an EIN, which is your federal tax ID and is needed to hire employees, open a bank account, and apply for business licenses and permits. It is free to apply and may be processed the same day or by the next business day. An EIN is required before an NIH award is issued. Instructions related to NIH proposals regarding the EIN are in item 6 of the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR application guide (version D).
Screenshot of LLC EIN Application
State Tax ID Numbers
You will need a state tax ID number if your business is required to pay state taxes. Review your state’s income tax, employment tax, and worker’s compensation insurance laws for information. Steps vary by state, so check state government websites.
Resources for Other Requirements
Open account(s) when you are ready to spend or accept money as a business. First, get your federal employer identification number (EIN). You will need your business formation documents, ownership agreements, and business license. Include a merchant services account if you will accept credit card transactions.
Business structure, such as being a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation, provides limited protection of your personal property from lawsuits. To protect personal assets and to fully protect your business, you will need business insurance. View the SBA resource on business insurance to learn the types of insurance available and what each type covers to determine what insurance you need.
Other kinds of insurance that may also be relevant for a small business include property, liability (casualty) commercial auto, workers compensation, health insurance for yourself and employees, life and disability for key employees.
Source: SCORE Insurance FAQs