I was recently invited by my colleague and fabulous blogger, Janet Barclay, to comment on a post about naming your business, and thought many could benefit from my response. So I am sharing it here. If you want to read Janet’s original post that it relates to, and other great comments, click here.

As you know, I rebranded last year (by choice). I kept the name of my professional organizing division which I founded in 2002 as LM Organizing Solutions, but now have a new parent company name, Lisa Montanaro Global Enterprises. I chose that name for several reasons: 1) I am going global, playing in a bigger sandbox, and wanted to share that intention through the name, 2) I am running a personal brand, and 3) I mostly use my real name online and that is what I noticed people would search for. To be honest, I use the business name less and less now, and focus more on my “brands” and “slogans” to market myself, always connecting them to my real name. My corporate name does not show up in many places. This was a very strategic decision.

business buildingAs a business coach and legal consultant for organizers and other entrepreneurs, I have seen the ugly side of business naming. Many clients have had to rename their businesses due to trademark disputes. I have filed trademarks for my clients, negotiated consent agreements for them to use the same name as another business owner, and advised them to rebrand altogether when the trademark issue was not on their side or too expensive to pursue.

But this can often be avoided up front, as you suggested. I use a 4-part test with my clients when choosing a business name:

  1. Domain Name Search – Check to make sure you can get the domain name that you want to represent your proposed business name.
  2. USPTO search – You can conduct a free search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office site at USPTO.gov or use a paid service to research trademarks nationwide.
  3. State Corporations Database Search – You can do a quick search on the Secretary of State web page to see whether your name is available. If the name is available, you may want to reserve the name through the Secretary of State, but you are not required to do so before forming your business entity.
  4. NAPO Member Directory Search – If you are a professional organizer, you should check to see if the proposed name is already being used by a NAPO member. Remember, it is not NAPO’s responsibility to police names as a professional association. It is the business owners!

About Lisa Montanaro

Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and enjoy productive and profitable businesses. To receive her free Toolkit, Achieve Powerhouse Success with Purpose, Passion & Productivity, visit www.LisaMontanaro.com/toolkit. Lisa is the author of "The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life" published by Peter Pauper Press. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help you be purposeful, passionate and productive, contact Lisa at (530) 302-5306 or by e-mail at .

4 Responses to “My 4-Part Test for Choosing a Business Name”

  1. Lisa Montanaro

    Janet – You are so very welcome! Thanks for starting the conversation with your original post, which was useful, relevant and very timely for a lot of business owners struggling with a rebrand or name change.

    Reply
  2. Hazel Thornton

    I won’t go into my own business name issues here (like I did on Janet’s blog), except to say that it was very helpful to me, Lisa, when you asked me to think about whether or not it was a legal issue, or a business issue. In other words (the way I took it): pick your battles and make sure you are fighting the right one!

    Reply
    • Lisa Montanaro

      Hazel – Thanks for your comment. I do remember when you and I communicated about your business name issue and I asked you to clarify whether it was a business or legal issue. So glad it helped so much! Many business owners dig their heels in and spend a lot of time and expense fighting a business name issue, but then realize they didn’t really need to or want to. It is good to know up front if something is truly a legal issue, or if it is really a business decision that can be solved without resort to legal action. So yes, I think your mantra of pick your battles and make sure you are fighting the right one is spot on! 🙂

      Reply

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