by Lisa McGrimmon
Before I went through the business name registration process, I was convinced it would be a long, drawn-out, expensive and difficult process. It ended up being incredibly easy and inexpensive.
It took me less than an hour, and cost less than $100 (in Canada) to register my name. I had almost all of my paperwork in my hands that day, and the rest came in less than one month.
Procedures for business name registration vary from location to location, so it's important to check with your local business or economic development office or Chamber of Commerce to determine which regulations apply to you. The people there will refer you to the correct resources you need to register a new company name in your area.
Once you're ready to make it official, find your closest business development office, pay them a visit in person (I find tasks like this are best done face to face), and they will show you everything you need to know about registering your business name in your area.
In general, business name registration and doing a business name check is normally quite simple. However, more complex business structure (for example a corporation vs. a sole proprietorship) can mean more complex registration procedures.
I had to go through a very simple, step by step computerized process to do the check and complete the documentation for registering the company name. I didn't have any difficulties, but there were staff available to help me if I had any questions.
Although registering your company name involves paying a (usually small) fee and completing some paperwork, there are several benefits when you register a new company name.
You'll avoid losing time and money creating marketing materials that you may later discover are not appropriate
When you do a formal business name check, you will discover whether anyone is operating a company under the name you have chosen. Depending upon the location of your company and the type of business you are running, you may not be able to use a name if another company is already using it (I'm not a lawyer, so please do check with one if you have any questions about the legalities around choosing a specific company name).
If you fail to do a business name check and you later discover you are operating under a name that you were not entitled to use, you may have wasted a huge amount of time and money in creating promotional materials and developing name recognition for your company.
It is very easy to avoid this type of mistake by simply doing a business name check and registering your company.
In most locations, banks will not open a merchant account or business account for you without proper documentation that your company is registered.
If you want the professionalism and convenience of a merchant account to accept credit cards and/or a business bank account, you'll need to register your business.
In most locations, when you register your company you will be issued a business number.
This number is required by many wholesalers. If you intend to open accounts with craft supply wholesalers, registering your company will provide you with the paperwork you need to demonstrate to wholesalers that your business is, in fact, legitimate.
Depending upon where you live, you may also be issued a reseller's permit or tax ID number (the name of the actual document varies from location to location).
This number and/or document is important for a couple of reasons.
Obtaining the number is often the first step in the process of collecting and remitting to the government sales tax (which is required in many locations) on items that you sell. Again, I am not a tax law expert, so do consult an expert if you require specific advice. Your local business development office can direct you to the professionals you need to meet with.
A valid reseller's permit is required at many art and craft shows. If you carefully read the terms for participating in many art and craft shows, they will note that you must display a valid reseller's permit in your booth.
It is really not difficult or expensive to register your company and do a business name check. Registering your business name will probably be a lot easier than you would expect, it can save you from a lot of potential hassles, provide a sense of professionalism and open up plenty of great new opportunities.
For more information on business name registration in specific countries please sees the following resources:
Register a new business name in the United States
Details on registering a company name in Canada and a link to register online in Canada
Register your company in Australia
For other countries, start at the Economic Development Directory, a directory of 81 economic development agencies worldwide.
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