Many limited liability companies (LLC) use a personal name, especially when the LLC is comprised of only one person. A business owed and run by one person can operate as a sole proprietorship, but by forming an LLC, the LLC owner is shielding his personal assets from any liabilities the LLC may incur. Whether you are a fashion designer or a nutritionist, using your personal name to operate a LLC gives your business a personal and unique touch.
Check the availability of your name by contacting your state business department. Many states will complete a search to determine if your name is available; some states do this for free while others charge a nominal fee. In some states, you can conduct the search on your own through a website. Do not assume that your name is available, especially if you have a common name. Most states will not allow you to use your name if it is identical or similar to a name that is already registered by another LLC or corporation.
Reserve your name. Some, but not all, states allow you to reserve your name for use in business for a limited amount of time. For example, in California a name can be reserved by completing a Name Reservation Request Form and paying a $10 fee. If available, the name will be reserved for 60 days. Prior to reserving a name, consult your state's rules regarding whether you can renew a reserved name should you need additional time to form your LLC. In some states, you cannot reserve the same name consecutively.
Check the availability of your name as a domain name. Having a website domain that corresponds to your business name is important in the Internet age because people interested in your business will want to easily locate your website to validate and learn more information about your company. Again, do not assume that your name is available as a domain name. Use an online domain name database to ensure your name is available before you file formation documents with the state business department.
Add words to your personal name which indicate your company is an LLC. Many states require either the words "Limited Liability Company" or either the "LLC" or "L.L.C." abbreviations. You may also use the abbreviations "Ltd." and "Co." The importance of identifying your company as an LLC is that you are putting the public on notice that your personal liability for acts and omissions of the company is limited to assets of the LLC.
Apply for federal and state trademarks under your personal name. A trademark alerts a customer as to where, and from whom, goods and/or services originate. Obtaining a trademark under your name prevents another person or company from doing business using your name and profiting from your name and success. A state trademark is more affordable than a federal trademark, but both will afford you the option to pursue legal remedies in court should you need to pursue a trademark infringement claim.
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