Updated November 3, 2020:

The designation names of a proprietorship firm are the names by which a business will be known and how it will be registered with the state(s) in which it operates.

Tips to Naming Your Sole Proprietorship Business

When you form your business as a sole proprietorship, you can either select a unique name that will be used solely for your business, or you can use your own name as the business name. Choosing the right name is an important first step in starting a business. As you consider name options, make sure the one you choose will set the foundation to establish awareness of your brand and sound appropriate and professional within the industry.

Identifying Your Business

The name you select for your company should also clearly identify what the purpose of the business will be, as well as set your business apart from any competitors in your industry. Consider how you will use the name on your website, social media platforms, and in a logo, as well as how well it reflects the services and products you offer. A business name should be appealing to your target audience.

Before you settle on a name, make sure some of the options you like are available and unique. Check the website of the business registration division of your state or county government office. Many of these divisions have websites with an online search functionality.

Social Media

Social media is important for modern businesses, allowing owners to connect with customers and share information about the company. Make sure to think about how your business name will work on social media platforms, including:

  • Google+
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn

One of the main issues that can come up for a new business owner is finding that the name is already registered on social media, so start by searching the main social media platforms to make sure it's available before you go too far in the registration process.

For example, Facebook has a search function that allows you to look for a vanity URL, which will be the web address for the business Facebook page. You can claim the vanity URL right then and there, although you should make sure that's the name you want as Facebook doesn't allow any changes to be made to vanity URLs. If you change your mind, you will have to register a new URL.

Internet Compatibility

Businesses also need strong online presences, so think about how the name you choose will work on a website. A business name should also include identifiable keywords, allowing potential customers to easily find the website through a search engine.

Before you register your business name, make sure to check if you can register it within the website URL. Network Solutions has a search feature on its website called the “WHOIS” search, allowing you to find out if a URL is available. If the search results show that the URL is already registered, you can get the contact information for the person who has registered it. The search results will also show if the URL is available.

DBA Laws and Sole Proprietorship Name Restrictions

After you have designated a name for your company, the next step is learning more about the laws in your state around using a “doing business as,” or DBA. Other names for a DBA include:

  • Assumed name
  • Fictitious business name
  • Trade name

Most states require business owners to file as a DBA if they use anything other than their own name as the name of the company.

Before you can use a business name, you will usually need to register the DBA with your state. Sole proprietorships using DBAs also have unique restrictions on what words can be used in the name. These words include:

These words and phrases can imply the legal structure of a business, which doesn't apply to a sole proprietorship.

Business Titles: CEO, Founder, Managing Director, Proprietor

Although many people want to start companies, make their own titles, and be their own bosses, the reality is that most businesses fail within the first two years. You may wonder if titles really matter, but the answer is that they do. A CEO is responsible for certain tasks, while a managing director takes on other responsibilities. Your title should make it clear what you are responsible for in the business.

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