One of the first places I look is Companies House. Their free WebCheck service allows you to search for all registered companies on their database and so see if there is already a company registered with your name.
Doing this first may save you heartache in the long run as, if you start up a competing business using the same business name as a registered company, they are well within their rights to force you to change the name.
You don’t actually have to trade as a limited company to secure it for the future. You can secure the name you want for a small fee direct with Companies House and then either trade as a limited company, or hold it on dormant with them until you want to use it for your business. If you’re wondering whether being a sole trader or limited company is going to be better for you, the best thing you can do is speak to an accountant BEFORE you do anything.
Domain names have increased in importance over recent years and will continue to do so as the web becomes even more essential for business. So head over to a domain company, like 123-reg, and search for your own name availability.
Hopefully it will be available, however if you find that it is not available, but also not in use, it’s worth investigating who owns it (see ‘who is’) and finding out if there’s a chance of getting hold of it before you write it off completely.
It’s expected that a domain name will be a close match to a business name so well worth doing your best to find one that suits. If you find more than one there’s nothing stopping you from purchasing it and forwarding it, free of charge, to your main web address.
Social Media Accounts
There are a ton of different social media platforms for you to use nowadays and the most important to check will be:
You’ll be wanting to check things like business pages and groups to see who else is doing what you do or maybe using your name. If you find that your name is available on all the accounts you want to use then waste no time securing them for when you are ready to start populating them.
It’s a good idea to check that there has been no trademark set up in your industry area with the name you’re considering using. As with the company name, you can save pain later by checking before you make the final decision for your name. You can search through the records of current trademarks free of charge here.
If there’s nothing available then it may be appropriate for you to register a trademark for your business. This can be costly to do so my advice would be to speak to an intellectual property expert before you take action. Although I also know many people who have done this themselves, if this is the route you’re going down just be sure you do you research before you apply so that you keep your costs as low as you can.
In an ideal world, you will be able to secure all of the above for you business name. If the name is not in use at Companies House but is not available by domain or social media, though not in use by competing businesses, it’s not the end of the world, but you may need to be a bit creative with your choices. Most importantly, they need to speak to your customers and be easy to remember. If your above choices are not similar or the same as your business name you may well be making a rod for your own back for the future. Keeping things simple and effective will help with your marketing later.
I’m always happy to receive feedback and ideas so please do join in the conversation and leave your comments below…